I looked up at the sky a lot when I was little. For years whenever I was allowed to go outside and play, I always looked up at the sky and asked God to please let me go live with my mom. I missed her desperately. For six years I asked God that question, until finally, when I was in fifth grade, my mom drove up in a pick-up truck to take my sister and me home. It was the best day of my life. I remember looking out the back window as we drove away and thanking God for answering my prayer.
Like many people, my parents divorced when I was young, and it was not pretty. There was a custody battle that lasted several years, and my sister and I were shuffled around between family, stepparents and friends. It was a scary and uncertain time, but the consistent influences of my pre-school and my grandmother gave me something firm to hold onto.
It was through my pre-school and my grandmother that I first heard about God’s love for me. My pre-school was a safe place. I remember always feeling comfortable there and enjoying my time. It wasn’t a Christian pre-school, but the owners were Christians, and I felt something special in the way they took care of me during an unstable time in my life.
I always knew my grandmother loved God. She talked to me about Him all the time and although at the time it didn’t click for me, and I didn’t fully understand it, I remembered enough to pray to God for help. It comforted me. Looking back, I know that it was Him who comforted and stayed right beside me.
I was angry about my childhood for a long time. I needed healthy parents. I needed a safe place to live where I was loved. I needed to be encouraged and sustained. I needed to be with my mom. But that was not my story. That is not the family my parents created. And I had to decide how I was going to move through life. The good thing is that I came to realize that I didn’t have to do that alone.
Romans 8:28 reads, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” I know with all my heart that God. Uses. Everything. Every single thing I go through, God will use it in some way. No pain in my life has ever been wasted. And He used my childhood pain to spark in me a passion for sharing God’s love and comfort with kids who might otherwise feel alone.
Serving in Grace Kids brings me deep joy. There are Sundays when I wonder how I will possibly manage leading even one more week — a team of 40 volunteers serving more than 100 children each week. It’s bigger than me. It’s beyond me. But I want so desperately for kids to have a fun, consistent and safe place to come to each week, because sometimes home isn’t so great. I want so desperately for someone to gently whisper to them, “you aren’t alone. You can talk to Jesus about anything and everything because He MADE you, and He LOVES you and wants to be your best friend.” Someone took time to tell me those things as a child and it helped! I know what it feels like to have a broken family and to not have a stable home. But looking back I know God was with me. And I know He comforted me in my time of need.
God didn’t waste those childhood hurts. He knew all along that He would use them for good in my life and in the lives of the people around me. My decision to say yes to God and serve in Grace Kids has given Him a place to redeem my childhood hurts. God heals my heart every time a child says their memory verse, every time a child runs to give their teacher a hug as they arrive, and every time I hear them sing songs about Jesus. God uses everything.
Are you interested in checking out Grace Kids? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.