The prompt was, “What was your favorite thing that happened this year”. The eldest replied, “I was happy”. To the younger it was asked “What’s something you are grateful for?”. Her answer, “I am being taken care of”. A lot can be interpreted from these responses. These answers sound a bit canned or rehearsed. In normal circumstances you would think these sisters were told to say this or coached to answer in the right way. Or perhaps they are just mature for their ages and have a great deal of introspection. But the truth is, these answers are not normal, rehearsed, or coached. Just sincere.
It is true that these girls answered from a view of mature introspection. But also from a sincerity that only comes from drastic circumstances and drastic changes. “I am now happy” literally means, “for the first time in my 13 years of life I am happy”. And, “I am being taken care of” translates to, “for the first time in my 8 years of life I am being taken care of, and all my needs are being met.” These girls understand what life was like before, and what it is like now. They know what it’s like to go hungry, and now to be fed. To be abused, and now nurtured. To be neglected, and now loved.
When their father decided to leave the family, he gave their mother the option to go with him, or stay with the girls. Either way, he was leaving. He was finished being a father and wanted out. Surprisingly, the mother agreed. And so they left. They left behind two beautiful daughters. To fend for themselves. To find their own way. Fortunately, their aunt took them in.
The girls were devastated that mom would choose him over them. But they were relieved that he was gone. With him gone, the beatings would end – for them. But for mom, they would continue. It is difficult for little ones to understand why their mother would choose a life of abuse, separated from her children. She had the opportunity to rid her life of the abuser that tormented her and her daughters. But instead chose to go with him instead of them.
Maybe there is more to the story. Just maybe mom decided to go with her husband to protect the girls. They may never know. What they do know is that where they are now is exactly what they need. For now. For young girls to answer the aforementioned questions the way they did, says a lot about their character and the work of God’s hands. And it’s why Shadow exists. These little girls’ lives are now different. Changed. Better. And for them to answer the way they did, not only breaks our hearts, but warms them as well. God is good. He is faithful. He is sincere.