I'd sat across the Starbucks table from her, looking into her eyes trying to channel my thoughts about her to her brain. My thoughts about how loved she was, how cherished she was by God, and how I believed in her so much, that she would be able to break the cycle. We talked about boys (we always talked about boys), and her GED classes and why she should respect her house mom. It was one of our best one-on-ones we'd had.
The next day she ran away.
This is the brutal and honest reality of working with foster kids. Just like they have had many people pop in and out of their lives, they, too, pop in and out of yours as well. They either run away, get sent to another group home, (hopefully) get fostered by a family, etc. And you're left standing here in the dust, scratching your head, wondering what just happened.
When she ran away I cried and cried and cried. First I cried for her safety, worried she was in harm. Then I cried because I was angry at her for running when I knew the potential she had and the things she could have done had she just sat still longer. And then I cried because I was heartbroken for her that she felt like that was her only other option. Now I don't know who she's with, what she's doing or where she is. It's the worst.
Selfishly I thought - did I even have a chance to make a difference in her life? Did she hear anything I said to her? Doesn't she know how much I loved her? But of course, this story is not about me. Of course no matter how much love I showed her, if she had the chance to run away because she caught even the smallest glimpse of being back with her family, she was going to take it. No matter what these kids have been through or how horrible their home lives are, they still want to be home. And that, my friends, makes my heart throb. But it is a part of our sad, broken world. Something we cannot avoid, something we really cannot blame these kids for, and we cannot understand.
After my pity party, I slowly began to feel peace about her whereabouts. She finally sent me a text and relief set in when I knew she was okay. God began to whisper sweet nothings of protection, calmness, and sovereignty to me. I pray and hope and desire and wish that I did, indeed, make a difference in her life, even if just a small one. Obviously, I was not meant to be her mentor forever, but I hope that the short time we had together was real and raw and she felt the sincerity. God is sovereign over all things, including that little girl's life. I pray for protection over her and that she will continue to see her worth in His eyes, instead of in the eyes of another. And in the meantime, I will continue to love those kids with every fiber of my being, attempting to channel my thoughts about them to their brains. That they are loved, they are cherished and they are believed in. It's all any of us can really do.
And merely days after she ran away this article I had written for Shattered Magazine was posted. Life certainly is ironic. ;)