Suffering and Self Care

A year ago yesterday, I began probably the hardest job I have ever had. I started this job fairly naive, having no idea the struggles that I would face, only knowing that I wanted to do my best to help.

I work with teen girls, some of whom have been through unimaginable suffering. Many have faced every type of abuse you can imagine, and have been shuffled around more than 20 different “homes.” Their past conditions their reactions – they treat others the way they have been treated. They rebel, and run, and are verbally and physically aggressive, because that is how the people they have been around have acted towards them.

In the course of working with these teen girls, I have been spit on, scratched, punched, bruised, and had numerous objects and liquids thrown at me. I have been cussed out called every name in the book. I have seen coworkers be physically attacked, have teeth punched out and have hair ripped off of their heads. I have seen situations where riots break out and wonderful, caring, brave staff run into the chaos and put themselves in harms way in an effort to keep the girls safe. I have seen young women cutting their bodies, banging their heads, and trying to choke themselves with belts or t-shirts, stating that they want to die or be locked up because of their hopelessness and pain.

I work in this environment because I believe that each one of the teen women I work with is made in the image of God, is unconditionally loved by Him, and regardless of the struggles they face in this world, each of these girls can know hope and new life, both in this world, and eternally. The struggles and pain of the past do not have to determine their futures.

My new goal for this blog will be to explore and develop, both for the benefit of myself and others who face physical and verbal abuse for the sake of ministry:
a) a biblical theology of suffering
b) a christian perspective on self care