The teenagers and I walked back to the carport. They got back on the roof, shaken up and disturbed. I sat at the bottom of the ladder an absolute wreck.
How does someone leave kids—kids the ages of MY kids—at home, alone?! Who even thinks that’s an option?! I know how challenging, frustrating, and exasperating it can be. I also know that leaving them to fend for themselves is not an option—ever, under any circumstances.
While I stood at the bottom of that ladder, my heart breaking , I received a text message from my husband. My 18-month-old little girl was giddy over the video she was watching. Before I had left town, I had filmed myself reading her favorite books and singing Itsy Bitsy Spider and Wheels on the Bus. My baby girl was watching the video in the safety of her daddy’s lap in our comfortable home, and saying, “Again! Again!” with a smile on her face.
Hearing that my kids were happy and safe in that moment was just perfect. Realizing that the kids I’d just met didn’t have a daddy to hold them, a comfortable home to sit in, a mom who would/could take care of them was too much to bear.
It’s not fair. It’s not fair that my baby girl was watching her mom sing to her on a video while that baby boy was left to fend for himself wearing only a diaper in a housing project in a community known as “Crackville.” He’s learning now that no one can be trusted. Permanent damage has already been done to his emotional development—damage that almost guarantees a troubled adult life—if he makes it that far.
We sing to God, “break my heart for what breaks yours.” As I’ve ranted about before, when we sing to God, we’d better mean our words. I mean it. I mean for God to break my heart for what breaks his. And it hurts. And it wrecks me. And the huge, white, sad eyes in that baby boy’s coal black face haunt me. And I know it’s God breaking my heart for what breaks his. And it’s awful, and it’s necessary. I don’t know quite what to do with it, except to open my heart to be broken.
That night we sang a familiar song in worship. It’s the only time I was emotionally impacted by the worship that week:
As I sang “Our God is healer,” I begged God to heal those kids of the abandonment, neglect, and injustice they’ve already suffered.
As I sang “Awesome in power Our God,” I begged God to intervene in his power, to undo the emotional damage that’s already been done, to break through the chains of poverty and injustice that tie down these kids before they ever even have a chance.
As I sang “into the darkness you shine,” I begged for God to shine into the darkness of that housing project.
As I sang “out of the ashes we rise,” I prayed that God would raise up those kids out of the dead lives they live now and that await them.