The Tale of Two Sisters

For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.-Romans 8:5

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.- Romans 12:2

There were two girls who ran away to the streets before they turned ten. One was an orphan and her parents died when she was five. She and her brothers were placed in an overcrowded state orphanage. Her brothers were the first to run away to the streets. She did not want to be separated from them and followed suit. However, by the time she got there, her brothers were caught for stealing and put in a youth detention center. The young girl ended up all alone in the streets.

The other girl’s mother did not want her the moment she gave birth to her. She was despised and abused from the day she was born. She suffered physical and sexual abuse by those who were supposed to love and protect her. The day she ran away to the streets was one of the most joyous occasions in her life. She was finally free from abuse and hatred. She ran away to the streets because it was safer. In the streets, she found herself to be all alone armed with the determination to survive not matter what it took.

Both girls were in the streets at the same time. They were never friends or enemies. They shared the same life experiences. The streets was a safe haven for them. It was a place where they were exposed to all dangers of society and yet, compared to what they have experienced in life, they found it be a place of freedom. However, both girls realized that freedom was not enough. Being free from an oppressive situation brings comfort, but freedom needs to lead to something better. They wanted to have the freedom to choose life. All they had experienced so far was death and they knew that they were meant for something better. They never met and yet they were sisters. They were bonded by a common experience and pain. They belonged to the same world of the street life.

We knew these two young girls in the streets. Now they are both mothers and wives. They found a way out of the streets. One struggles to pay the bills every month. She never has been able to keep a steady job. She finds it hard to persevere when the situation gets tough. Even though she has been out of the streets for ten years, the temptation to give up everything and return to the streets is strong. She knows how to survive there. Her husband is a good man. He works as odd job laborer. It is hard for him to find steady employment. Life is a long and uphill journey for them. They are determined to survive.

The other girl is also married and has a child. Her first husband left her and she struggled as a single mother for a while. She never felt that she was a good mother and her ex-husband took full custody of her child. She did not fight it. She has remarried. This time her husband is a lawyer. He is much older than her. He treats her well and encourages her to better herself academically. She is studying law and hopefully in the next year she will graduate. She had nothing when she went to the streets and now she lives in a luxurious apartment and drives a fancy car. She has even been to Europe on several occasions. Looking at her now, it would be hard to imagine that she actually lived in the streets until she was eleven. Both girls came from the streets but now their lives appear to be miles apart from each other. However, they are still sisters.

Whenever I share the stories of these young women, I usually get applause for the achievements of the young woman who is graduating from Law school. People do not know how to respond to other woman’s present status. Both women are only different because of their financial status. This is a superficial difference and it is not relevant. However, if we judged them according to the standards of the world, one would be classified as successful and the other would not be classified as anything. No one would consider her a success. The standards of the world are cruel and superficial. They separate people into classes of winners and losers. Even if we try to avoid classifying people as losers, the applause is always reserved for the winners. Unfortunately these worldly standards are found in the thinking of the church. The way we preach the gospel has been influenced. It is not the gospel of Jesus. It is more like the gospel of the middle class where success is based on economics. We need to move away from gauging success in this manner: we have to change our standards. This can only happen when we allow the Spirit to transform our way of thinking. It is not pretending to see something different from the world. We cannot pretend to set our minds on the things of the Holy Spirit. We can pray and wait for the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and minds. The perspective of the Holy Spirit makes the all the difference in our ministry. It helps us see the true treasure in the lives of these two sisters.

I refrain from using names for these two sisters because they are both are very dear to us. We have known them for almost twenty years. We see and speak with them often. One even addresses us as “mom” and “dad”. We are proud of both of them. The one who struggles financially also struggles with her faith. She does not doubt God. She does not doubt His presence in her life. She doubts her own worthiness. She wonders if she will ever amount to something good. Her saving grace is her daughter. Her daughter is giving her the strength to persevere even when everything seems to go wrong. She is discovering her meaning in this life. She is aware that the life is hard and the struggles might never get easier. However, she also knows that despite her doubts God will guide her through it.

The future lawyer has all the luxuries of this world at her disposal but she shares the same struggles with her street sister. She doubts her own self worth. Years of abuse and neglect have made her doubt own self-worth. No one can convince her that she is worthy of love. She needs to be constantly renewed by the gracious love of our God to realize her worth for herself. She struggles daily and struggles alone like her sister. Both sisters know that no one can truly understand their fears and loneliness except for God who knows them better than they know themselves. They are fully aware of this Truth. This is what we consider as success. We hope all our children and teens living in the streets will share this conviction. We would be happy and satisfied if we could contribute to their awareness of this Truth. Both sisters are successful because of this knowledge. They will survive in this world regardless of the challenges before them. They might never meet again in this world but they share a God who knows and loves them more than we can ever imagine.

Share

4 thoughts on “The Tale of Two Sisters

  1. The struggle to understand how much God loves us is universal. I’m amazed at how many Christians I meet who doubt God’s love – rich, poor, young, old, educated, not educated. Unfortunately we have an enemy who doesn’t want us to know or experience God’s love and is constantly whispering lies in our ears that get confirmed by events and people: “you’re not …x.. enough / you’re too …x… / you’ll never be ….x… etc etc.

    It breaks my heart that it’s so simple, yet so difficult to explain – that God loves us as much as He loves His son Jesus and that Jesus loves us so much He willingly laid His down His life for us. The world places so much emphasis on sin and how good or bad we are, that we get stuck in that way of thinking.

    Ephesians 2:6 says “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus”. I find that mind blowing! All it takes for us to be seated with him in the heavenly realms is our faith in Him as Lord. If He didn’t love us, He wouldn’t have bothered, yet we still struggle with it.

    It took me over 20 years to start understanding it myself, so I empathise with those who still don’t feel worthy. But my message is this: we aren’t worthy on our own merit, we are worthy because his blood washed us clean. It’s nothing we’ve done, but it’s what He’s done for us that makes us worthy. It’s something that we have to declare over ourselves all the time. For God so loved the world…… The atoning sacrifice of Jesus was done so that we could be seated with Him in the heavenly realms. We forget that we are inextricably linked to the Godhead! How sad God must feel when we think He doesn’t love us because we’re not worthy, but it’s a reality throughout the church worldwide.

    There are two questions we need to be aware of. The first one is “did God really say…..?”. (Spoken by Satan in the garden of Eden). Knowing what God has said about us in His Word is so important so that when the enemy whispers into our ears “did God really say that you are loved” etc, we can say YES!!!

    The second question is “Who told you…?” (that you were naked) Genesis 3:11. Every time we start to doubt God, we should ask ourselves “who told me that?” Remember that the enemy is the father of lies and came to steal, kill and destroy. Whenever we feel a theft or destruction in our peace, our sense of self worth, or in any aspect of our lives, we need to remember who the author is. God is all about love, peace, joy and life. Of course, there will still be problems in our lives because we live in this world. But our identity in Christ is vital in order to help us get through the storms.

    To me, the most important thing I’ve learned in my walk with Jesus, is SONSHIP. He told me last year that I had an orphan spirit. Without going into details, I made it my goal last year to break that off and become free.

    An orphan spirit means that we live so much of our lives in fear. But fear is not our inheritance! When we truly understand our sonship (or daughtership), which is extremely hard for many people who grew up without one or both parents, then we can more easily understand how much God loves us and how our own sense of worthiness does not come into the equation.

    We are worthy. Full stop.

    I pray that this truth will seep into the hearts of the two young women in Stephen and Mary’s story above. I pray that they will know beyond a shadow of doubt that they belong to God, that He rejoices in them, that He delights in their prayers and in their worship, and in fact, that He just simply delights in who they are.

    He is a good, good Father. And He is good, all the time.

    Please forgive my very long reply – I didn’t mean to preach!

    Much love and blessings,
    Sarah

    • Thank you for your comment, Sarah. You are right that the struggle to know that we are loved by God is universal. Some of us are aware that this is what we are seeking and some people just know that something is missing and never discover that it is the love of God. However, the difference here in the lives of these “sisters” is that their life experiences has made them feel that they are not worthy. Most of us have families and friends who make us feel loved and worthy whereas this important element was missing in the lives of these girls. For them to come to the point where they are even able to believe that they are worthy is a miracle in itself. It is a transformation of the mind. God bless.

  2. I agree with you Fr. Dass! Jesus changes all believers from one degree of glory to the next as we walk in relationship with Him! He is patient and loving, kind and tender with His mercies! He understands the suffering both of your girls have been through and He will bring them through a tender process of change to that place where they will believe in their great worth that their loving, Heavenly father feels for them. It takes time for the fullness of that to occur. It is a miracle that both of them are living as they are today! And I am amazed at how God has used you and Mary in the most precious way to reach out and love them! You and Mary are their parents. I believe the worth you placed on them will come to complete fullness! I praise God for your ministry and how you love so many of His wounded ones! You are a true Shepherd leading your precious flock of little lambs! I will pray for Gods best in every way for both of your girls lives and for Gods amazing provision to be poured out over your ministry and the lives of every child you reach out to! I am thankful to be a recipient of your blog!

    God bless you!

    Sharon O’Connell
    Psalm 150!

  3. Father Stephen and Mary it was so wonderful to have you at our church and hear your thoughts in person. Your reflections remind me of the universality of our human condition. While money and worldly “success” sometimes blind us to true heart conditions, the issues that both sisters deal with are similar based on their upbringing, and their common humanity. I think of the death of Robin Williams in this light. While he had this earthly “success”, yet internally, the real self struggled with deeper issues. Your reflection also made me think about the fact that the things we go through as children do have great influence on us. Our minds need to be renewed as we come into greater and greater experience of God’s love and grace. God does not just look at the outward appearance, he looks at the heart. He knows what we were given. He knows how far we have come. He is not hung up by earthly definitions of success. He knows when we experience true victories, overcoming thoughts and oppressions that may have held us back for many years, finding greater love and freedom. He looks at us seeing the whole picture. He is the only one who has such knowledge. I love what you said when you spoke at our church, “He is a realist!” Thank you for insightful reflections once again!

Comments are closed.