Puddle-Jumpers and Ocean-Crossers

“There comes a time when you need to stop crossing oceans
for someone who won’t jump a puddle for you.”
During my last week of my visit in the States, something significant
(but by no means good) happened that prepared me for continuing my “redeeming
love” journey with Tenele.  It was a heartbreaking
situation with a young girl around Tenele’s age whom I had poured into over the
past four years.  “She’s your American
Tenele,” one girl told me.  And she was
right.  “She’s too far gone.  You can’t fix her.  You’ll only end up hurt if you try,” another
girl messaged me. And she was right.   “Sometimes
holding on hurts more than letting go,” another girl gave me this quote.  And she was right.  “I don’t need another Tenele.  One is already too much.  I’m ready to give up,” I said to myself.  And I was wrong.
Over the past year, so much happened with Tenele and I
was depleted, upset, confused, angry.  It
seemed that I had failed in helping her, so when my American Tenele also
rejected my love and help, it cut doubly deep. 
I became angry at them, at God, at myself.  Why do I have to care so much?  Why do I have to try to fix everyone?  Why do I have to be an ocean-crosser for
those who don’t even puddle-jump? 
Because Christ did. 
Christ is.  He carried a cross for
us, so we can cross into eternal life. 
His oceans of mercy are unending, as he continues to love us when don’t
deserve it, when we are too weak, too stubborn, or too selfish to even cross a
puddle for Him.  As Mother Teresa said
repeatedly, “Grab the chance to offer something to Jesus.”  Our oceans are only a grain of sand on the
shore, but the little we offer He can turn into a sea of glory.  Through the depressing situation with my
American Tenele, I realized I wasn’t offering it up; instead, I was holding on…
in vain—trying to fix the unfixable on my own strength.  I wasn’t offering it up, I was trying to do
it on my own.  Then I realized I was
doing the same with Tenele.   
When I got back to Swaziland, I was anxious to see Tenele
but I wasn’t eager.  When she called one
night to say hello, I struggled to quiet the anger still inside me.  In my journal I wrote:

 “Thank you for Tenele calling so I could hear her
voice!  We both don’t sound the same,
though, and it makes my stomach ache. 
She doesn’t say my name or greet me with her girlish delight
anymore.  Her “Hello, Mom” is heaving
with aching of her own.  My ache is
there, too.  But my voice doesn’t bear my
inner longing, it reveals my inner anguish, the weariness of time spent on her,
the bitterness and anger.”

 When I hung up the phone I thought of all the things I
wanted to say to her when I saw her again. 
But just as soon as those thoughts flooded me, that still small voice
inside my head told me to offer it up.  “God,
what is demanded of me for Tenele right now?” 
The immediate answer came, Grace.
Really?  I mean, really
But she deserves to be punished. 
I want to yell at her.  She should
know how angry I am.”  The still small
voice continued, You will drive her away
and do more damage. 
I sighed
slowly.  What she desperately needs is to know My grace.  Don’t yell or scold; love and hold her.
In my journal I continued: 

realized something about Tenele and me. 
I’m hurting because I’m holding onto pride, like with (American Tenele)
too.  It doesn’t need to hurt this much,
but it does and I’m bitter… because I’m being prideful.  Up until this point, Tenele and (American
Tenele) haven’t really directly sinned against me.  Now that it’s more
personal, though, now I want to give up? 
Isn’t this where I should love them more?  Because this is where it shows my love really
is the Lord’s and not mine.  Anybody and
everybody can love until they’ve been burned. 
But Christ goes further.  Forgive
70 x 7.  Lord, help me be a minister of
your grace.”

The first moments I saw Tenele
again, I couldn’t speak because my anger had not yet vanished.  We sat together in silence, but somehow it
was what we both needed.  Eventually we
began talking and she began crying.  It
was clear that she was in immense internal pain and indeed she desperately
needed grace.  The more I talked about
God’s grace and the more I said He forgives her, the more and more she
cried.  And the more and more I saw the
remarkable results of God’s mercy. (Details to come)

A minister of mercy.  It seems this is the core mission to which
God has called me.  This ministry cannot
exist without His mercy.  How often have
I asked God for wisdom in dealing with the girls and disciplining, etc. and
nearly every time He answers me, “Mary-Kate, they need Grace.”  And when I do, when I try, when I let go and
let God, oh how many burdens are lifted from me.  Oh, such Amazing Grace!  If only I could make them see…  Yes, Lord, make me an ocean-crosser, a minister of your mercy.  

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