Our pastor told a story during this morning's service that just wrecked me. He said a girl walked up to the alter a few weeks ago and handed him a letter. Then she simply walked off. He read it and immediately set about trying to find her, without luck.
He read us the letter today. The girl is 13 and has lived in foster homes for much of her life. She's been separated from her sisters, her mother is in jail, her oldest sister is in juve. It was a litany of places, this letter. A list of cities where she'd been shuttled, residences she'd hoped would provide solace, peace, only to be moved elsewhere, five times in five years, sometimes with her little sister, sometimes not. And she wondered, at the end of the letter, if our pastor would pray for her, if he would help her find a place where she was wanted.
Because, how can you have any hope when there's nobody around who wants you?
The story itself was bad enough. The sadness of it came right into me. And I thought of AJ, how I never wanted him to feel that way when X split. How I never wanted him to feel unwanted, how I feared the fallout of our divorce would visit him.
I ran into Tony after the service. He's a friend, a sometime golf partner. He fawned over the baby and ruffled AJ's hair. In the midst of the conversation I tried to say something that I feel, something I am so blessed to have, and that's a new chance. I get to experience that love and joy and purpose all over with Caleb and I can appreciate and embrace it like I didn't get to with AJ. But I couldn't tell Tony that, because of the tears in my throat and that 13-year-old girl. I got out a bit of it, and he put his arm around me and we smiled at the baby and ruffled AJ's hair.
Walking out to the car AJ said, "Daddy, did you start to cry?" And I told him yes, and about the girl and that I was sad, but also thankful--so very thankful--for him and Emet and Caleb and that I'm blessed to always feel loved and--way more than that--that he has never felt the pain of what that girl wrote.
The pastor said the girl showed up again last night. Her situation isn't any better. But she has hope. And now she has an entire church to try to lift her up. I hope for my boys, but I can't guarantee happiness for them. Life is tribulation. There will be pain. But they will always have us, a place to feel wanted.