I could help in the healing process because I had lived their pain

Every so often I have breakfast with a good friend named Jan. Our conversations are always thought provoking, and challenging.  During breakfast last week the topic of brokenness came up.

We came to the conclusion that like us, most of the world is made up of broken people. People who over time have be scarred by various life situations and circumstances. We chatted about our own brokenness and how the brokenness from our past impacts our present.

We talked about words that we associated with brokenness; for me one word was abandonment.  I grew up in a home with 4 blood brothers, 3 adopted brothers and somewhere between 20-30 foster brothers and sisters.  The kids that were brought into our home were kids that had been abandoned by their families.  Many were beaten, bruised and pretty drugged up.  I remember trying to process it as a 5 year old, all these kids coming into my home, because nobody wanted them!

Part of the residual effect of the high needs of all these kids was that my parents were incapable of meeting the needs of their own children.  There was just nothing left emotionally at the end of the day, the week, the year…..  I grew up feeling abandoned by my parents.  I never resented them, I understood the needs of these kids and just how much attention that they were in need of.

For sure it has left me broken but that is not what I want to focus on.  The brokenness that I have felt has helped me tremendously in my work with women and children who have been abandoned by their families and need help.  I get the cliche, “I feel your pain,” in fact I do feel their emotional pain.  I think it is why I refuse to give in, give up or fade out.  Often in order to be apart of someones healing process you need to have experienced their pain.

So the pain of my experiences with  abandonment have really helped me in a profound way in my work with The Lending Journey.  It is why I don’t just raise money and then send it to Latin America.  The kids my parents helped didn’t need more money, in fact money is the last thing they needed.  They had been abandoned, forgotten, disposed of and made to feel invisible; what they needed was to be loved, cared for and to be made to feel visible.  Money doesn’t often do that, but one thing that does is when we give our most precious gift OUR TIME.  Time spent sitting on the floor in their homes, listening to their stories of joy and sorrow, time eating their local foods and as the sun sets and the heat lessens, time spent talking about their dreams for a new future.

There is a biblical quote that often drives me, it is from  the book of Job (29). Job says,

“I rescued the poor who cried for help.
I rescued the fatherless and assisted them.
I brought joy and hope to the widow.
I helped the blind who could not see for themselves.
I became a father to those in need.
I watched out from the strangers visiting my village.
I fought those who would cause injustice.”

By faith, my brokenness has become my strength, may it be the same for you.