Surprised by Hope

We convinced him to spend the three weeks of Christmas vacation with his daughter, and he reluctantly accepted. Now he sat at my kitchen table, like he had done many times before, and I asked the big question, “So, how did it go?”

Four months before, she spent a weekend with him, and when she returned to Back2Back, he said he did not want her to visit again. They didn’t have much of a relationship after the 12 years she spent in the children’s home, and he didn’t know how to control her. She doesn’t let me take care of her, he explained, she is so angry and hides from me with her friends, and in our neighborhood, those friends aren’t good for her.

As her house parent, I too struggled to guide her and help her make good choices. She didn’t want to go to school; that’s bad. She fought with her best friend and now she is depressed; that’s bad. The principal called again; that’s bad. I could not see anything good in the situations she had put herself in. I reluctantly accepted God’s call to be the one who pursued her. She could disagree with everything she had to do, but I was still going to love her, meet her needs, and love her fiercely.

The 4th month we began to see change. While putting the 16-year-old teen girl, broken from the inside, to bed one night she said, “I wanted to share during worship tonight, but I was embarrassed.”

“Well what did you want to say? Tell me, I’m listening.”

“I wanted to say I thank God for helping me through this difficult time. I’ve been thinking about my future and I want to try my best to make it through. And, well, I haven’t done any drugs…and I don’t want to .”

And there it was—the good news—from an unexpected person, in an unexpected place.

So, as I waited for a response from her father, I clinched my heart. I expected to hear bad news for I had become accustomed to hearing bad news.

“It was really good, she is different. I can see a change.”