Words by Jackie Patten
In light of Valentine’s Day, our office has a “heart attack” game going around where we have to essentially bomb each other’s work desks with goodies, candy and words of affirmation. The individual who chose me wrote words of encouragement that I really needed in this season. They reminded me that the work we do is incredibly HARD. For someone who typically masks emotion with “it’s not that hard, just do it”, I needed the reminder to feel.
Many days of this month were spent talking through the wounds my husband brings home from teaching on the South Side. What do you do when students stand up in the middle of class and scream that they hate you everyday? Or parents unload all of their own trauma on you? Other days were spent responding to emergency phone calls and texts from parents because their kids were in crisis. Finding help for someone that was relapsing or driving a student to school because they’re living in a hotel to escape a violent household. The list goes on.
My Call Into Vulnerability
Pete Scazzero says, “it’s impossible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.” In that, I am attempting to pursue vulnerability over transparency more.
I love my work deeply, but I have caught myself being consumed by this brokenness that we are constantly exposed to. Youth Works is truly on the frontlines of the South Side, and sometimes walking into your “office” feels like walking through the gates of hell. I feel so angry at the suffering, injustice and abuse of children that surrounds us on a daily basis. I feel so angry that I am, for the most part, helpless in these situations. I am so devastated that my husband is fighting his own endless battle. This is typically defined as Secondary Trauma- “the emotional duress that results when an individual hears about the firsthand trauma experiences of another person.” It is commonly experienced by hospital workers, teachers, law enforcement officers, social workers/case managers, etc.
I know all of the right answers to these problems:
- We are called to share the hope that we have in Jesus.
- God is God, and we are not.
- God is sovereign.
But to be completely candid, when it gets this heavy, it can feel like God is silent. As we continue to process through all of it, I am asking for prayer over Riverside Middle School Staff, Orchard Elementary Staff, our interns, our students, and Layne and I. Thank you for being a community that we can be honest with and call on for support through the storm.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Eph 6:12