Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Being stretched, challenged and transformed...

For those of you who have been following my blog for a while and have read my previous ‘confessions’ here and here, you know that I haven’t always had a heart for children with special needs. Before discovering Reece’s Rainbow I had an inexplicable fear of children and adults with special needs. I hate admitting that but I know that there are so many out there who feel the same way I felt and I am desperate to show that God is so much bigger than our fears and discomforts. God began changing my heart the day I discovered Reece’s Rainbow and continued that work of transformation throughout my time in Ukraine but still, I wasn’t sure how that would translate when I came home. You see, my heart is for orphans. More specifically, my heart is for orphans in the greatest need, those who are forgotten and unwanted by the world. Orphans with special needs in Eastern Europe without a doubt fall into that category which is what had me pleading with God to open up a way for me to show His love to children who would normally be so far outside my comfort zone. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the kids there but there were still certain times and situations where those old fears and discomforts would creep back in. I know that many of you are familiar with Chrissie Patterson and the testimony of how she bossed her heart into beating as it should. The phrase “Boss Your Heart” which has taken on such great significance for so many people, became my mantra in Ukraine whenever I found myself in situations that were far outside my comfort zone. It reminded me that your feelings don’t have to dictate your actions. I could boss my heart into showing love and affection to children with profound needs who I would normally feel uncomfortable around and pretty soon my feelings would catch right up.

All that said, I still wasn’t sure how the change God was doing in my heart would carry over after I got home. I had developed a strong passion for neglected orphans with special needs but I still wouldn’t describe myself as someone with a heart for all children with special needs. When I came home and started looking for a job, working with children with profound special needs was not even on my radar. Yet as time went on and my options became fewer and fewer, one day on a whim I called a local school for children with special needs. They told me they were holding interviews the next day and one week later I was starting my training! The school is for children with moderate to severe intellectual handicaps, many of whom also have anywhere from mild to profound physical disabilities. The students range in ages from 4-21 and are split into an elementary and a high school campus with approximately 250 students each. On the day that I went to visit the campuses it was overwhelming… So many students, so many with such profound needs, I honestly can’t say I was any more comfortable than I would have been two years ago. I wasn’t sure I could do it but I had promised God that would walk through any door that He opened. I am no longer of the belief that ‘some people are just not cut out for this kind of work’ and I knew that it was all just a matter of bossing my heart. The amazing thing is, I only had to boss my heart for about 5 minutes and I haven’t had a moment of awkwardness or discomfort since. The job I’m doing is a lot of personal care and to be honest, I kind of love it. If you have told me that two years ago, I never would have believed you. Even if you have told me 8 months ago I would have been extremely sceptical. It all just goes to show the amazing power of God to transform our hearts. I’m working on call as a substitute and so far I’ve been working on average 2-3 days a week. Unfortunately it is extremely unlikely that this will turn into a stable, full-time job that will allow me to support myself but right now I’m trying not to worry about the future. I know that God is the one who provided this job and I believe that He has a purpose and a plan in all of it. Whether it will lead me to another more stable job or whether God is simply using this job to mould and teach me and prepare me for the future He has in store, I don’t know. I’ve been reading the book Exodus, the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s promises to the people of Israel, and there were two verses in particular that jumped out at me the other day: “But I won't do all this in the first year… Instead, I will force out your enemies little by little and give your nation time to grow strong enough to take over the land.” (Exodus 23:29-30).

Little by little, that is how God works out His plans for us. So, I will trust God with my future and in the meantime, I will enjoy the privilege of serving these precious children whom I came so close to missing out on… Praise God for the work of transformation He has done and is still doing in my life!

4 comments:

patty said...

Hi Andrea,

This is such a beautiful post! I have a feeling that Lorraine Patterson would really like to see this post. She has commented in the past on her blog that she loves to hear stories of how Chrissie inspired other people. You should drop her a note :) Congratulations on your new position. I'm sure you are bringing a lot of joy into the lives of your students.
Patty

GrumpyJaxMomOf3 said...

I just LOVE this post!! Sadly this was me once upon a time too. I was afraid of anyone who was different from me in any noticeable way. My heart has recently been opened (due to many variables). God has shown me a way to Love all. Thank You for sharing!!

Anonymous said...

Are you completely stuck on the idea of working with kids? Developmentally disabled adults are such an undeserved population and there are SO many options. Day programs, residential, or I personally am a service coordinator.

Sarah said...

God is doing amazing things with you friend!! I can;t wait to see what he continues to do in your life! Thanks so much for sharing from your heart!