Sunday, June 29, 2008

Stepping out of my comfort zone

A week or so back, my dear friend Jill (the friend who also is adopting from Petits Anges de Chantel) asked me if I would be interested in mentoring a pregnant teen girl who lives at The Marion House, which is a state licensed group home for pregnant teens/teen mothers. Our friend and neighbor Mandy had recently taken a position as a house social worker, and found two girls in need of a Mom Mentor.

The mentor's role is to see the girl at least once a week, and to spend time with her, get her out of their residential home. To invite them into your own house, as many of these girls have never actually even witnessed how a stable, Christian family works. Mentors typically go through Lamaze with their girl and attend the birth. So right there, Mandy had two little light bulbs, one bearing Jill's face and one bearing my own, light up in her mind, and she got the ball rolling with a phone call to Jill.

Truth be told,I hesitated at first. All for the purely selfish reason that I was scared I was going to become attached to this girl, attached to her baby, and then be terribly hurt if she were to disappear with the baby, or not take care of the baby well, or bring the baby around unhealthy and/or dangerous people. I don't know how I could handle worrying about a little baby's safety or whereabouts if the girl wasn't able to pull it all together and handle motherhood.

While wrestling with those feelings, I thought of a dear, dear friend who was my single mom mentor back in the days when it was just me and my little Hattie. Donnell was (she's now happily married) a sharp, witty yet no-nonsense single mom who had her own fair share of birthdad woes to put up with, but which never got her down. I watched with amazement at how she budgeted, at how she ran her house, balanced her job and LOVED her little boy with everything she had. I watched her barter down medical bills, hunt for thrift store finds and drive an older car that was paid for. Donnell couldn't have cared less what anyone thought of her.

I think of the many lessons I learned by watching her, and how kind she always was to me. She is now one of my dearest friends still. I wonder how long it would have taken me to learn some of those lessons on my own, and what pitfalls I wouldn't have managed to avoid.

And I had it relatively 'easy' as a single mom: a college degree, a good-paying job with a super understanding boss, and a supporting family.

This girl never had it easy: a lack of family, history of abuse, and still in high school.

And I realized that there was absolutely no way I could turn my back on her. The thought of having a broken heart was far less painful than knowing that she was alone week by week through her pregnancy, all because I was too chicken to do so.

The moment I made the decision, I felt a sense of peace despite my discomfort at the unknowns. And yes, the discomfort is still there, ashamedly. But sometimes there are things we just must do, even if they are out of our own comfort zone.

I spoke with the director again, and she gave me "J"'s background. Just hearing about her made me feel a sort of motherly love and sense of protectiveness. There was no way I could abandon her now.

"J" had been attending church with the director, and this Sunday was to be water baptized. "M" (the director) mentioned that it would be so cool if I could come to the watch and meet "J" for the first time.

So I did just that. Excited and nervous, I bought a sweet little, "Hoping you have many blessings on this special day" card for her. I didn't know what to write, so I left it at "I look forward to spending time with you in the days ahead" and hoped that didn't come across as too generic or psychotic.

When I arrived, I took a seat in the back so I could scan the crowd for J and M, or catch them as they walked in. Never saw them. All through praise and worship, I worried that perhaps J changed her mind, or was ill. Shortly after the singing, the pastor announced they would have the water baptisms, and he announced each person one at a time, sharing a bit of their testimony with the Church.

J was the third person up. I was so far in the back of the cavernous, poorly lit room that I couldn't make out any distinguishing features other than she had short hair. As soon as the service was over, I made my way across the room to M and met J.

J is absolutely beautiful. A freshly-scrubbed, sweet-natured girl with a soft beauty about her. Not due until November, I certainly could not tell she was pregnant.

M explained to her that, unbeknownst to J, she had invited me to the baptism. J looked so surprised that someone would actually come for her, and hugged me. I gave her the card, and we chatted for a short while. I told her that I would come to see her tomorrow at the house, and she seemed happy.

Having done all of that, I know I made the right decision to begin this journey.

The path the Lord leads us on is funny sometimes. Always where we need to be (whether we like it or not), I knew that today I was meant to be at this church as a visitor. I have truly been struggling with our adoption during the past few weeks, and inside I have felt a disjointed, removed feeling from everything and everyone except my own children. The Pastor today gave a sermon which I needed to hear. I still get chills just thinking about the things he said, and I slowly felt myself waking up and snapping to. Suddenly I find myself feeling a bit more equipped to weather the peaks and valleys we have left before bringing our boys home.


small town girl said...

I never cease to be amazed at how God works in our life. For me, I also never cease to be amazed at my own self-centeredness. I believe God is efficient and uses us to benefit ourselves as well as an entire chain of humanity, if we are obedient. I predict you will have some ups and downs, but in the long run you as well as many other people will benefit tremendously from this experience, just as you did from your single mom mentor. Your post gave me chills!

Anonymous said...

I'm impressed with and proud of you for volunteering. This just confirms what I already know- I'm married to an incredible woman.

Your Ardent Admirer,

Sawatzky Kids said...

WOW! What a wonderful journey you and this girl will share! I am sure it will be an amazing time for growth and learning for both of you.

Salzwedel Family said...

God certainly does work in mysterious ways! I pray you will both be blessed by your time together.

Aves @ Call of the Phoebe said...

Amazing undertaking..I look forward to hearing how the mentoring goes.