But you, O LORD my God, oh, deal with me according to Your Name; for Your tender mercy’s sake, deliver me. For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me. Psalm 109:20–21
Of Jesus, it is written: “In the morning, long before dawn, He got up and left the house and went off to a lonely place and prayed there.” Mark 1:35
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith--that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
So I trip over wounded hearts all day long. And one would hope that those raw and aching slashes would make everyone just a little more kindhearted, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. And the wounded heart sorts, myself included, have a propensity to react, versus to act with intentionality, with the LORD God’s tender mercies.
And every morning I bow my knees before the Father, with my list of names, that we might each know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. And yesterday morning, I bolded a bunch of words and tried to tattoo them into my brain so I would remember.
Because seventh grade is full of high-pitched drama. And one of those on center stage is a refugee girl from Rwanda not named Emily. And I talked to someone who did a home visit to her one-bedroom apartment, and after the long ten-hour school day, she is expected to take care of her six younger siblings while her parents do a night shift. And um, I cannot even imagine what chaos reigns there. Because a very silly question to ask any seventh-grade student is “What were you thinking?” when they make their myriad of bad choices because the only answer you will ever get is the wild-eyed deer-in-the-headlights look. Seventh graders never know how to answer that question, and yet I find it popping out of my mouth again and again when dealing with this girl, because bad choices swirl around her like horseflies.
And all of these bad choices include name-calling and pinching and grabbing and finger-pointing accusations, and when she filled out her Science Fair form as with whom she would like to work with on a team, she wrote “No one. Everyone hates me. No one likes me. I want to work by myself.”
And I had a brief brainstorm of maybe pairing her up with an eighth grader because she hadn’t had a chance to burn all of those bridges yet, but the eighth-grade science teacher balked big-time, even after I got permission from the SARSF lady. Like I said, bad choices swirl around this little girl.
And as I stared out sadly across the lunchroom, I noticed a tender heart, the girl who is worried about Trump getting elected and her parents being arrested and she somehow wants to do a science project on how to change people’s minds. And I knelt down beside Ruby and just asked. And her eyes got big and she said, “Miss, she hates Mexicans.” But I tried it again and talked about maybe changing a life forever and how cool would that be, and she agreed to at least talk it over with her partner.
And during study hall there was a big fat blow-up in a bunch of languages with name-calling and shoving and meanness all around. But this time, when Emily went to her desk and put her head down and cried, Ruby stood up and went over and wrapped her arms around her and held her. For a long time. And the stormy waves around them calmed. And everyone looked down at his books or desktops in shame. And just this Wednesday in-service we talked about how oddly enough shame is one of the concepts we have to learn, like forgiveness and gentleness.
And as the students lined up in the hallway with their backpacks ready to go home, the girls had their arms around each other and showed me their notebook paper plan of rotating team leadership and how they were going to start a club of kindness. And just before she walked out the door to catch her bus, Emily gave me the biggest hug ever and I couldn’t even peel her off from around my waist.