She came to my classroom like the others. She had her own story, a story with too much pain and sadness for someone so young. Her nine years of life had injured her tender heart. She arrived at Cookson Hills with a wounded heart. Unlike many of my little ones, her pain was much more visible because her fear, anxiety and anger had driven her to pull out her hair until she was almost bald. This was the girl who walked into my classroom that first day of school in July.
And so it began, the process of getting to know each other. Could she trust me? How should I interact with her? I breathe a prayer each day, each hour, sometimes moment by moment, “Please, Jesus, show her your love through me!” He hears my prayer and a little dance begins between the two of us. My hand would gently pull her hand away from her hair and I would whisper, “Just breathe.” While we are working on a worksheet together, she tells an impromptu story about her life. It’s a story that breaks my heart, but I simply respond by telling her I’m so glad she is safe now and how much I love her. Some days the dance is one of her anger and my patience. She returns from counseling with her emotions in turmoil, and I must be patient and as she processes her feelings. She says hurtful things to me and I go home and cry. I cry because I’m tired. I cry because I doubt I’m making a difference. I cry because someone hurt a little girl and now she is broken and in need of the Lord’s supernatural healing. I stop crying and remember that I have been broken, broken several times, many times, and God is faithful to put the pieces back together.
Then it happens! I see the first signs of healing. It is like the first sign of spring. Things are still gray and dreary, but a little crocus is peeking through. The smallest bit of color catches your eye, because everything else is still rather bleak. She begins to blossom. She skips out of the room at the end of the day, but stops and gives a hug and whispers, “I love you Miss Hodges.” She becomes the top student in her math class and can feel pride in earning something of her own merit. She overcomes her fear of failure and learns to try things, even if she already knows it won’t be perfect. She joins in the prayer time during Bible class. She prays for the persecuted Church and prays for those who are hurting Christians. She prays, “Lord, just take the anger out of their hearts.” She continues to blossom and speaks out for others. She helps others and is their champion when she feels they have been treated unjustly. And just as her absence of hair showed her pain, her progress is also evident. She now has curls. Curls that she styles and pins up with ribbons and bows. The joy and happiness now outweighs the fear and pain. I rejoice as I see the beginning of her healing. I thank God that he allowed me to be a witness. I am humbled that he allowed me to take part in the process.
Her time at Cookson Hills has come to an end. It is hard to let go. I want to continue to be a part of her journey, but God has other plans. This time it’s a small boy and I can’t wait to see what the Lord is going to do this time. So I put on my dancing shoes and start breathing my prayer, “Please, Jesus, show him your love through me!”