You know that feeling of being so scared you can barely move?
I remember being little and paralyzed with fear, but somehow finding a way to sprint through the dark hallway and leap into my parents’ bed where I felt safe.
As much as I HATE being cold, tired, or sad, nothing is worse than the feeling of being scared. So, it is no surprise that I was moved to action when Mariah called me in the middle of the night and told me through tears that she was so afraid. I knew the electricity at her house had been cut off almost a week prior because I had directed her mom to an agency I thought could help her.
I also know how scary her house is when the electricity is off because this was not the first time it had happened. I have actually been inside the house during one of those times. For some reason, this house is much scarier and more uncomfortable than any other place I have been without electricity.
As I think about the frantic late-night call I got from her on a night I was determined to get some much-needed extra sleep, I realize why I could not ignore her call or deny her request for a ride somewhere less dark and lonely. It’s because I never had to face the darkness alone.
When I was around Mariah’s age, the power went off in my whole neighborhood one evening. At the time, my mom knew I would be leaving my nanny job, so she called me to tell it would be dark and that she would be home waiting for me at the front door. When I arrived, she was there just as promised, with a candle in hand, a warm smile, and a big hug.
When Mariah got kicked out of the friend’s house where she had been staying, no one was at home with a candle and a hug. No one cared that she had been kicked out unfairly because of someone else's selfishness. And no one cared that she felt afraid. I stayed on the line with Mariah as I got out of bed, put my contacts in, and got ready to head out the door. We continued to talk as I drove to her house and she packed a bag. I took Mariah to her stepmom's house, which is about a half an hour away, giving us time to pray together and find hope during the darkness. I don’t know how I would have turned out if I didn’t have the type of parents who were there when I was afraid and who did everything in their power to make sure I was safe and loved. I am confident I wouldn't have turned out as amazing as Mariah.
It breaks my heart to see kids like her who have so much potential, so much light and joy inside of them, be left alone in the dark. But seeing the way God has worked in her life reminds me that she is His and that He loves her more than I do, and more than any earthly mother or father. I wish more than anything that Mariah had the kind of mom I have, but I can be free from all worry and fear for her knowing her heavenly Father holds her in His palm every second.
A lot of the kids who I work with live in so much darkness, physical or otherwise. To be honest, sometimes I question if what I do can make a difference. That night I was reminded of the difference it makes to not be alone in the darkness. Maybe I cannot change their families or the situations they find themselves in, but I can be light by merely being present. This is all that Christ asks me to do. My friend who is a counselor recently said to me "I do not fix, change, or save people." This was a beautiful reminder for me as a missionary. Only God does that. I am called to be present and to love no matter how dark each situation is.