Nope, this post is not about my momma. HOWEVER she is, to me, the best mother in the world.
And this post is most definitely not about me and my inept ability to love surrendered and abandoned children in Honduras.
This post is not about Kate and her 8, or Saint and North’s mom.
This post is about women whom I’ve seen in passing while doing life. Most I’ve never met, some I’ve only seen out of rear/side view mirrors. Others I’ve had a meal with. Lately, It seems every median and corner I drive by there are women that are doing things they probably would rather not do to keep their family alive and together. They sell things, they sell themselves, and they send their children into stopped traffic to beg for money, children smaller than the hood of my car.
This would not be acceptable in many first world countries. This would not be acceptable in many Christian communities. This should not be acceptable socially and economically. It shouldn’t even exist theoretically. Yet, it does. And, I have to admit that it’s easy, very easy, to dismiss. It’s easy to slip a 1 Lempira bill out of a cracked window and whisper a blessing to the momma who is sitting sun baked under a tree surrounded by wrappings from last night’s or last week’s dinner. It is easy to judge them. It is easy to have compassion for their children and harsh criticism for the women.
And I can’t help but think how acceptable it is for them, these mommas, to do a thing like this. Most of these are women who would do just about anything to provide for their children. Things we couldn’t fathom doing. Every day I encounter women who are faced with lots of decisions to make. And the decision that seems to weigh the heaviest is, ‘how do I provide for my children?’ Do I give them up? Do I leave them in the care of my family while I try to find work? This often puts them directly at risk for abuse and neglect? Do I abandon them on the side of the road because they are born with a disability that I cannot care for? What must a woman come to when she decides to leave her child in a plastic bag alongside a pile of trash in an ally? What thoughts have ran through her head when she decides to leave the hospital room without her child? What sort of past trauma or generational sin has she endured when she decides to leave and never look back?
My highly sensitive and empathetic heart breaks as I think about their stories. And what terrifies me the most is the numbness in their eyes. For some have accepted that this is what life has to offer and these choices are apart of this life. It just isn’t right. And, it just isn’t fair.
So I turn to the scriptures to make some sense of this injustice of the heart.
‘And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for 12 years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. Because she thought, if I touch his clothes, I will be healed’.
The Gospel of Mark describes Jesus, after understanding who touched him, and the woman falling at his feet, trembling with fear confessed that it was her that touched him simply said to her,
‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering’.
Maybe we’ve seen this woman on the side of the road. Maybe she’s an outcast from her community for things that she’s done, or things that have been done to her. Maybe we’ve offered her a 1 Lempira bill. Maybe we’ve taken her to the doctor for her condition.
Some of these women have hope. After 12 years of suffering, and all of her money gone, she still has Hope. When I see someone who has nothing and still strives for everything, they give me hope. I feel like they can see something that I often can’t often see or sometimes forget to see. And maybe that’s the very active, very real presence of God’s grace that is constantly redeeming our past, preparing a future, and giving us a hopeful present. It’s not a sugar-coated hope that gives the warm and fuzzies at night. It is the ‘down on your knees praying for your next meal, or protection for your children’s purity, from your husbands rage, or from your neighbor’s son in a gang’ type of hope that propels you to do unthinkable things to keep your family fed and together. I may not agree with their choices and I may not understand their motivations, but I do respect them.
This is the very real and raw life lived in poverty and pain which bring the hope of the Gospel to life.