I grew up in a military family. My father was a Marine pilot so we moved at least every year or two. At one point, we moved 3 times in a 13 month period. And to me this was normal; I had never lived any other way.
Growing up, I didn’t really think much about the challenges that my parents faced because of moving all the time and having my dad on distant assignments for duty. Looking back now I actually think that they handled this lifestyle really well. Or at least as well as anyone really can. But in order to make that kind of life work, you have to learn how to constantly disconnect from people and places in order to pull up roots and plant yourself somewhere else.
Developing the ability to pick up and move every few years at such a young age laid something into my life that I see as both good……and not so good. The good result was that I learned to handle change and quickly adapt to new situations. The bad result was that when you live this way you tend to stay in a “temporary” mode, always ready to let relationships and attachments go.
A lot of our Mercy House girls are like that. Most of them have never had the kind of stability and support that we all need. The constant change, vanishing relationships, and lack of resources has required them to develop a kind of “crisis-mode” mentality in order to cope with life and to get their needs met.
Some of our girls have focused their energies on school and studies or things outside of their homes. And amazingly, they have found ways to survive. Others have succumbed to the temptations around them and have made choices, developed habits and encountered heartaches that they deeply regret.
But whichever path they may have chosen, one thing is consistent among them: They’ve all experienced a breach of trust. They have been abandoned, in one way or another, by the person they hoped would love them. They are on their own, carrying the yoke of parenthood as a single woman.
But this yoke is not a bad thing. It is their assignment; their calling, if you will. Once a life is conceived we have a responsibility to that life. We need to make choices that support and love that life. This is the yoke a single mother must accept, whether she chooses to parent her baby or place her baby with a family for adoption.
I am reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:
“Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my load is light.”
The key to carrying this responsibility is the sharing of the yoke. Jesus offers to yoke with us and make our load light. But in order for that to happen we must trust Him to do what he has promised AND we must take that yoke on willingly, rather than chafing against it. Above all, we must avoid the mistake of deciding to go it alone.
The purpose of Mercy House is to help these girls to understand and experience Jesus’ offer first hand; to feel the joy and relief of the shared yoke by coming into our home and being loved, accepted and helped.
It is in helping them to experience this, that we can truly demonstrate that the real source of all this love is the Lord Himself. And that He is inviting them to a lifetime of shared joy in the journey together.