Never before have i felt more secure in following the Lord's will for my life as i do now. God has orchestrated my life so brilliantly and continues to amaze me each and every day.
Working at an adolescent treatment center has its challenges, don't get me wrong, most days are HARD but they are incredibly, rewardingly worth it. I've never felt more at peace with what i'm doing in my life. God blesses me abundantly with ideas and opportunities to love on the kids at work, filling my mind with ideas of ways to share Jesus with them, for opportunities to pray over and for them, he fills me with words of hope to help them up when they feel like they can't gather anymore strength to go on. God has given me such a heart for these precious children of his. He has blessed me with more patience, grace and strength than i could EVER muster on my own, He is MIRACULOUS. Not to mention the crazy miracle of my community and my soon to be Power House home with the most beautiful, Jesus-loving women i could ever be so blessed to meet. Jesus knows exactly when and how to lift me up. Gosh, my Jesus is AWESOME.
I have a special spot in my heart for one of my girls at work, i have seen her battle with so much just in her own heart over these past three months. When i arrived at Devereux she craved the love and attention of those around her, so much so that she had to seek it negatively through self harming; it was the only way she knew how to feel cared for, to have someone stop her from cutting or cut a string off of her neck. It broke my heart. Constantly i battled with myself because we are taught not to feed negative attention-seeking, but at the same time i felt overwhelmed to love on her; if she needed attention that badly who am i to walk away from her.
Probably the hardest night of my job so far began with her negative attention seeking. She had been self harming and getting hurt (blowing out her knee, falling in the shower, etc) in ridiculous amounts and thus was on close observations for a week. Towards the end of the week she became very upset about close obs, feeling that she had proven to be safe over this period of time and took it out on me. She yelled, stormed off and climbed up onto the top bunk of what normally was her room (when she wasn't on restrictions and sleeping in the great room). She tends to tie things around her neck and turn away from you so as to prevent you from seeing and encourage you to look. I knew she wasn't able to be unsafe since i had been there right next to her the whole time but i had to make sure, i eventually had to climb up onto the top bunk, force her to roll over and check her neck for ties.
At this point i was drained and aggravated, frustrated with her desperate cry and need for help and love, but blind to the compassion i usually carry for her. I went to take some space while other staff watched her and upon returning she had gone into the great room and hid under a built-in bench, another one of her self harming areas. She was prompted to come out and refused so we called for staff. I stood back, watching her be pulled out and restrained, angry and hurt. A few moments later a girl comes out of her room, down into the great room, stands over her and says "Look at you now, b*tch, you're in a restraint." and starts stomping on her face, swinging punches and leaning against staff to keep them out of her way. A second girl comes out and begins to help assault this girl, helplessly restrained on the floor, unable to defend herself. I don't remember coming down from my post into the great room but all i remember was knowing i had to stop them and bear hug restraining the second girl. I pulled her back and to the ground and she began kicking her in the face so i was forced to wrap my legs around her. She turned and pulled my hair, shouting at me that i don't understand.
Picture me, wrapped around this girl, at least my size if not bigger, desperately trying to get her away from the victim, her two hands gripping the hair on both sides of my head, screaming at me. A third girl, one who decidedly dislikes me and makes a point of showing it whenever i'm around, walks up, cussing me out, telling me this is exactly what i deserve. It took everything in me not to cry at this moment, not to let my weakness show, not to let her get straight to my heart. The hair pulling and struggling, even the shouting i can handle, any day, but the malicious slander directed at me was enough to push me right to the edge.
All of the rest of the staff was in restraint still so i had to wait patiently while other clients tried to unclench her fists from my hair, until another staff was able to come to my relief.
Separated. Safe. Over. I had to walk out. In the rain, crying out loud in the dark, wishing i had my phone to call my mom or my friends, anyone to reassure me after such an attack on my heart. A cup of hot coffee and i had to walk back onto the unit, unscarred, pretending to be unaffected for the certainty and safety of the girls.
Intense. Watching this innocent girl be assaulted, punches thrown in her face, kicks to the head, as she's being held down to the ground. I don't even remember screaming or crying but i'm sure there was much. There was a moment of chaotic silence as i pulled her second assailant off of her. But i had Survived.
More than survived. I conquered. I thrived. And so did she. That was her turning point. That's when her eyes were opened to the fact that we would give her just as much attention, if not more, if she were safe. And that her peers were fed up with her seemingly selfish cries for help.
She has made incredible progress and growth over the past month and has not self harmed since that awful attack. She had a black eye and a bloody nose but she was okay, and now my heart glows with joy over her. I am proud. I am ecstatic to see her grow, get better, and learn to love and treat herself with respect. This precious child of my Father.
Now i reach another moment for growth and trust in the Lord. I find myself standing at a crossroads between choosing the hardest but certainly rewarding path (to which i feel my Papa is calling me) of signing on to the younger girls unit (Juniper); the easier, more carefree route of signing on to a boys unit, which i would prefer...or continuing to put it off and float, working at all/various units. I am torn between what i want and what i believe the Lord wants for me, but i still feel as if he's giving me the choice, which makes it even more daunting.
I LOVE my job. You might not believe it, most people think i'm crazy, even my coworkers, but Devereux is where i THRIVE. Where i fight for hope, beauty, joy, love and Jesus. Sometimes quietly, sometimes boldly, sometimes righteously frustrated, and much to my surprise, often with grace. I love that Jesus has called me here, that i feel like i am fulfilling His purpose for my precious life. I love feeling effective and needed and NECESSARY. It is such a joyous feeling. And although somedays i feel worn down, defeated, exhausted, i wouldn't change it for the world.
so for now, i pray for continued guidance, grace, patience and love enough to pour into these children. (They would hate me for calling them that saying, "I'm a teenager!") And faith and trust enough to pursue His will over my own. But for now, I wait it out, as is the human defect.
1 Peter has been my guidebook for this job, these are my words of encouragement, spurring me on.
"To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed. Be shepherd's of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers- not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.' Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's might hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxieties on him for he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you into his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen." -1 Peter 5:1-11
Thank you Jesus for this expanse of growth in my life, for the struggles and triumphs and most importantly the need to lean into You EVERY SINGLE DAY.