"As we were being taken away, she screamed that she couldn't live without us but all she did was live to hurt us."
My heart broke into a million tiny pieces as I sat on the floor next to this precious thirteen year old girl and rubbed her back as she wept. Tears welled up in my eyes and I fought to keep it together. You could hear the pain and hurt in her voice. This sweet girl had endured more in her thirteen years than any child should have to.
"...I just wanted to let you know that I forgive you. I love you and I want you to know that Jesus loves you, too."
Her nine year old sister wrote a letter to their stepdad, just one of their abusers. I only knew these girls for three short days but they have forever changed my life. Their strength, their faith, their vulnerability, and their ability to forgive has challenged me.
The details of these sweet sisters lives is not an anomaly. According to statics, there are approximately half a million children living in similar situations. Half a million children. Half a million children that are too afraid to say anything because they know at the end of the day, they have to sleep in the house as their abuser. Half a million children broken and bearing more than anyone should ever have to bear in their lifetime. Half a million children like Anna and Grace.
When I met Anna, I met a girl that was just beginning to heal. Just the week before, she had surrendered her life to Christ and was beginning to walk with Him and growing. When I met Grace, I met a sweet, quiet girl who didn't say much and bottled up her emotions. In those three days, I was privileged enough to watch healing begin in both of those girl's lives.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
-Matthew 11:28, NIV
At the camp where I work, we have a beautiful outdoor chapel. A cross sits on the mountain and a cross paints the stunning landscape. Anytime I'm out there and just looking in awe of God's creation, I can almost hear the wind whisper this verse to me, "Come to me. I will give you rest."
In that outdoor chapel, I watched both Anna and Grace bring their burdens, leave them at the feet of Jesus, and receive rest instead. Y'all they are thirteen and nine. At twenty-one years old, I hold on tight to my burdens, hoping that one day I'll be able to change them or make them lighter. I carry them until it makes me sick and I can't carry them anymore. Then, I finally leave them at the feet of Jesus and in an instant receive healing and rest. I do it every single time and get the same result. I'm completely broken and I need Jesus to come in and save me. We all do.
Maybe we're afraid of getting hurt. Maybe since so many people in our lives have used our burdens to hurt us, we're afraid that Jesus will do the same thing. We're afraid that it's too good to be true and that instead of receiving rest, we'll get grief and heartache instead when in reality, holding onto our burdens is what gives us grief and heartache. If there was ever a person to not trust Jesus (or anyone for that matter) with their burdens, their heartache, their brokenness, it is Anna and Grace. Jesus revealed Himself to them and instead of fighting Him tooth and nail, they surrendered with child-like faith and innocence. They gave up their burdens in exchange for healing, rest, and peace.
He'll do that for us too, every single time.
Our King didn't pick up a cross and the sins of the world for us to fight Him with our petty struggles or control of a situation (that we don't actually have control of). Our King, Savior, Redeemer picked up a cross to have a trust-filled relationship that gives us rest.
"For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
-Matthew 11:30, NIV
I want to have the same child-like faith as Anna and Grace. I want to take Jesus at His word the first time and not keep laying down (and picking right back up) the same stupid burdens and struggles. I want freedom from the same things I struggle with over and over again. I want His yoke, not mine. I can't handle mine. It's too heavy and too hard on my own. At the cross, where we ought to leave our burdens and struggles, is where the healing begins. At the nail-pierced feet of Jesus is where we receive rest and healing from the struggle of carrying our burdens.
I am currently a student learning more about life and Jesus' marvelous love and boundless grace.