Tuesday, April 28, 2009

weak and tired and full of love

She ran away almost every weekend. We would call her mom to let her know, but she never seemed too concerned. (Maybe that's why her daughter came to us, pregnant at 16.)

On Mondays, she would come back, always dirty, once with gonorrhea.

She had a terrible attitude. She was always cussing at staff; she was always so defiant. She really only talked to me when she had already pissed off the staff on her hall; she would come to me to curse about her hall staff - or once, to ask me to come and help one of my clients, who was crying in the parking lot, having just heard that a relative had passed away.

She never missed Bible study.

Last week, someone hit her in the stomach so hard that it separated her baby from the placenta. I think she was five months pregnant. She had to deliver the baby, only 2 lb. 11 oz., and over the weekend, the baby died.

It's not hard to see how every minute I spend at work is an opportunity for ministry; it's hard to know how to minister. Loving the unloveable ones sounds like such a noble thing to do - like you just need to pray for a big enough heart... but it turns out that what you need more is a very high tolerance for swearing, and patience to fax a lot of runaway persons reports.

O Father,
"He who thought it not robbery to be equal with God, made himself a servant..."
You came. The Creator, the giver of life, the maker of all. You, the single One of the heavens, the great Other of infinity, came. The Creator became creature, and you leapt into our world a little child, weak and tired and full of love.
We can only bow and wonder, amazed that you would not abandon us in our frailty, that you would not suffer us suffering alone, that you could not leave us to our own willfulness. We were lost, and you yourself became the Way. We were broken, and you embraced our frailty. We were rebellious, and you ran to meet us "a long way off."
Good Father, you gave us yourself when we sought the way, the truth, and the life. And when we longed for the way of greatness, you bent low and became the least among us - a servant and a lover - and beckoned us to follow.
"Surely he taught us to love one another; his law is love and his gospel is peace."
We long to follow, but like the shepherds so long ago, are "sore afraid." Following, serving, giving, and loving are strangers to us. We yearn to love, but we are careless students of the Way.
And so, we plead again for the near love of your coming. We pray that you would once more remind us of the fullness of your embrace in our Christ. And we ask that you would challenge us to hold near your love, even as we seek to give it away.
-A Prayer from Dwight Ozard "For They Shall Be Fed" (Ed. by Ronald J. Sider)


  1. What a powerful post for me to read first! Have you read any of Henri Nouwen's writings from when he worked at the mental health places? My mom mentioned they're very helpful.

  2. Thank you for writing, Karen. I haven't read your blog before, but you are a great writer and I enjoy it- I hope to read it more often! :) And it sounds like you have quite a job and I will pray for you with that. Thank you for being where you are for women who need God to touch them through you. May God bless you, friend!

  3. I am a first time visitor to your blog. Have not read enough posts to have the full scoop yet but wanted to thank you for the work you do ... this post is heartbreaking. :( A good friend of mine is working toward the NARM to be certified and open a small birthing center in Haiti. You sound perfect to come down and train/teach in the early stages!

  4. Livesay - I wish I could aspire to that job. (See my other response for more on my total lack of qualifications for that position!) I appreciate your visit!