This morning I found a child’s name in my Bible. A singular word, her name up in the corner of a page of Psalms with no details, no other information.
I must have prayed for her on that unrecognizable date.
An adolescent with fiery strawberry hair and a presence either marked by anger or the need for attention.
She and her siblings lived in the women’s shelter. She was the child in the middle. She was one of the three found homeless due to the mother’s dilemma.
She tried her mother and she tried us. She could not contain her emotions, her fear, her anger, her lack of being able to make sense of her current condition.
Most likely, I jotted her name the morning after a day that staff and I spent trying to manage her, hold her together, quell her violent temper.
I see her name in my Bible moments before turning to today’s Matthew reading.
Matthew 14 includes a favorite account of Jesus.
Jesus walked on water. Told the disciples not to be afraid.
“But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here! ”
Matthew 14:27 NLT
I read on to the fifteenth chapter and as happens often, I’m pulled in by just a phrase.
Jesus healed many.
I read of the mama who had a daughter she could not settle. Her outbursts were loud, unavoidable, her spirit unwell, even angry and stricken by evil.
I thought of the name in my Bible, just a name written in faint cursive in the corner of the page.
I remembered the last I heard, the child is in chorus, the family lives on land near horses. The mother is better, the sisters are well.
The disciples felt Jesus should avoid the woman and her daughter. The mother begged for different. Jesus paid attention.
Never thought of it before, the absolute gift we give by paying attention to another’s dilemma, disaster or simply discomfort.
“But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!” Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.” “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.”
Matthew 15:25-28 NLT
There are many lessons I kept from my work in the “helping profession”. One stands out though, the desperate cry for healing is a common thread between us. “Detours” I used to call them, the choices and circumstances that led to homelessness.
Jesus, on his journey, was often met by unexpected intersections with people in need and bold enough to take a chance on believing in possibility.
The child in the shelter, her mama, the men, women, mothers and children in the Bible.
One thing in common, they decided to believe in the possibility of healing.
And they found it like me, through believing in Jesus, no matter the story my past had already written, seemingly laid out in a fatal ending.
I pray it’s the same with you, this everyday decision not to be bound by your pasts, to continue.
To continue and believe.
To remember, your name is likely scribbled in the corner of someone’s Bible.
Yes. I believe.