“I am a total waste of space!” Spitting out those awful, venomous words, the 15-year old girl buried her head in her arms and let the tears cleanse the hurt that consumed her.
Carolyn is in my office because she attempted to kill herself. Just fifteen years old and she’s convinced that there is no hope for her, that happiness is an illusion that can never be grasped or attained.
Her words stab into my own memory because she reminds me so much of myself. I remember the sting of those same hateful words when they were thrown into my own face as a 12-year old and I had believed them. When you hear the words often enough, you surrender to them.
The girl that first said them to me was a pretty little princess in her cheerleader outfit and I was… I was not like her. I had tried out for the cheerleading team and was quickly informed that I did not have what it takes to be a cheerleader. Their laughter echoes mockingly inside my head, I guess it will never go away.
I know now that was the beginning of a downward spiral in my life as I experimented with one thing after another to gain the approval of others. My fingers nervously trace the scars on my wrists.
I recognize the utter desolation that Carolyn is feeling and I pray to my loving Father in heaven to give me just the right words for her. More than anything else, she needs to feel accepted. I can do that for her because Jesus has done that for me. I can be a reflection of his love to show Carolyn that there is hope. And his name is Jesus.
God planted me here where I can help young girls that suffer just as I did. My experiences are the gateway and common ground that allows me to help them because I have wandered down that same horrible path that leads nowhere.
As Carolyn pours out the misery that is overwhelming her, I hug her close and begin to softly hum my favorite song, Jesus Loves Me. As a counselor, I meet a lot of troubled girls. I’ve noticed that many respond to this because somewhere deep inside, they recognize the tune and the words that go with it. Not all, of course, some girls grow up never seeing the inside of a church; our country has changed so much. In any case, the subtle power of music helps to calm their frazzled nerves and makes them willing to listen and to trust.
A scrap of trust is usually all they have left. And they desperately guard against it being damaged any further. For some of these girls, it stems from the betrayal of a boyfriend who has moved on to new conquests. Others daily endure an abusive home life that just leaves me feeling helpless.
Across the room, behind my desk, there is a picture of Jesus with a lamb on his shoulders.
“Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders.” (Luke 15:4b-5)
That’s me as I gently care for this despondent young girl. I want to be her shepherd; the one to lead her to a safe place.
As my heart yearns to fill the emptiness inside Carolyn, I smile at the transformation God has performed in my own life. I am no longer “a waste of space” as I was so brutally told over and over as a teen-aged girl, but now I am one that fills “the empty space” in girls that don’t know where else to turn.
My prayer to God is a blended psalm of thanks for his caring for me and giving me the opportunity to help others and an imploring prayer that he will bring Carolyn to him in the same way.
“Lord, place your arms around Carolyn so that she can see that there is plenty of space for her in your kingdom. Fill her heart with your peace that is beyond understanding and rebuild a joy in her soul that is no longer there. Show her what it is like to have a Father who loves her and wants the very best for her. Let her rest in your arms.”
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