“I wish you were my mommy.” My heart simultaneously melted and cried on hearing these words. You see this little ten year old girl lived in a home where she and her sibs were, well, nuisances. In this instance my Sunbeam leader, a couple of volunteers and myself had taken our Sunbeam troop on a field trip. My daughter was one of the girls. On the way home we stopped at Dairy Queen for a treat. While we were all sitting around the parlor eating our cones, my daughter came over, sat in my lap whispered in my ear, “I love you……can I have a dime?” After responding to her she ran back over where some of the girls were sitting. I soon felt a gentle tap on my arm and one of the other girls asked if she could sit on my lap. I helped her up and she sat quietly eating her cone. She leaned back against me and took my hand from the table to wrap around her. It was when she finished her cone that she turned around hugged my neck hard and whispered in my ear, “I wish you were my mommy.” I whispered back, “me too,” hugged her tight and then she quietly slipped off my lap and rejoined the other girls.
Leading up to Mother’s Day, this incident kept coming to mind, along with images of other kids that I have had the privilege of loving. I could write a book about them. I remember on of my teen girls who ran away from home, was caught and placed in juvenile detention because she would not go back home. So while family counseling and court appearances were taking place, she lived with us.
All of the faces and memories of my kids — particularly those who struggled living with uncertain, desperate, and depraved circumstances — visited my heart this year prior to Mother’s Day. I don’t know why; it just happened. This got me to pondering and wondering where some are today and how they are doing. I know where some are and sadly a few did not live long into adulthood. But others have done well and made a good life for themselves.
Influence: the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself. (Google’s definition) This is a basic understanding that all good Corps Officers have as they love, shepherd, and minister to the young people that God has placed in their care. Long lasting, effective influence can only be inculcated by a heart filled with the Spirit and love of God. Loving and working with kids is no easy task. It is a ministry filled with joy and delight, while at the same time often fraught with emotional traps and times of despair.
To those of you who are not parents and to those who are, I remind you that the kids in your sphere of “influence” are watching and adopting what they see in you. Pray God that it is the Christ in you.
Hear a promise from the Lord for all those willing to give themselves completely to the task of ministry to which you have been called: “We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3)