A letter to the kids next door.

Munchkins,

I have been your neighbor for close to a year now, but I do not yet know your names nor do you know mine. I’m shy like that. And I suspect your parents have had the wisdom to tell you not to talk to strangers. 🙂

Despite our lack of known identities, I want to tell you how very much you have warmed my heart this past year with all of your little kid goodness.

When I brought my precious Ruger home, you didn’t hesitate, not even the littlest one of you, before coming over to meet him. You weren’t afraid of his size or his wariness of littles – you petted him and laughed. And I laughed with you. You always talk to him when we are outside and treat him like the wonderful pup he is. Most of you aren’t old enough to read newspapers or care about things such as BSL, so you haven’t learned that hatred and ignorance yet. I am so grateful to you for that.

It was your flashlights that woke me up one night at midnight as I thought someone was breaking into your house. Instead, I ran outside to find all of you running about in your coats, oblivious to the snow on the ground. That was quite a game of hide and seek you were playing. You had school the next day and you clearly didn’t care. I admire your freedom.

Thank you, littlest fellow, for knocking on the glass of your window to get my attention every time I returned home late from work. You waved and hid, waved and hid, over and over. And then you would laugh uproariously until I waved and went inside. Bless your heart for welcoming me home in a way on those lonely evenings.

And you, dear older boy, you are the one who made me cry. I was cleaning house and looked up to see you and your buddy running around frantically in your yard and mine, grabbing every yellow dandelion in sight. I could not fathom why on earth you would do such a thing until my doorbell rang. I opened it to see you with a huge grin, your braces glinting in the sun, and a question spilled forth in that rapid, insecure manner only middle schoolers can manage: “Hey, lady. I live next door and my girlfriend had a bad day. Can I buy some of your roses?” I refused to take your money, but I told you to gather all you wanted for the bouquet. You smiled so hard it broke my heart. And I just couldn’t bring myself to correct you and explain that they were only geraniums. I hope the recipient of that bouquet knew just what you did for her that day.

Thanks, little girl, for always leaving your bike at the end of my driveway. I have had to park in the street so many times to move that thing out of the way. It used to frustrate me, but now it just makes me smile. I love your innocence and the carefree manner with which you ride that bike all over the street and my yard, believing that all is still right in your little world and caring not a bit about boundaries. May you always know such freedom.

And tonight you were the one who inspired this post. I pulled in after a long day, only to hear the peals of laughter coming from the trampoline in your backyard. As I put my key in the door, I heard a squeal and a “Hi, neighbor!” in your wee voice. Your little friends joined in with the call and I was greeted by a chorus of wee ones thrilled to be out of school and enjoying a warm summer evening at last. There had to be 10 little hands waving frantically in my direction. Bless your tiny hearts.

I am deeply grateful for the privilege of being invited into a bit of your lives this year. I have longed for children my whole life, and the Lord has simply not seen fit to grant that desire of my heart. And He may never, no matter how badly I want the mess and struggle and joy and heartbreak and tears and laughter of a handful of wild and beautiful wee ones. So it is in the seemingly insignificant moments spent waving at a kiddo next door, or finding toys left haphazardly propped up against my shed, or hearing the laughter of a little one when I am outside with my pup, that I find joy. Thanks for blessing my inner mama heart and being kind and courteous and funny and laughter-filled. May you know only joy and grand discovery and adventures of all sorts and may you always be free to be who you are and be brave about it. Just be really really brave.

A letter to the victims.

Dearest darling girls,

I wish I could tell you I understand, but I do not. I have never been molested, never sexually assaulted, never sexually abused in any manner. I cannot imagine what you felt then, and I cannot imagine what you feel now. I can only tell you I’m sorry.

LITTLE GIRLS PLAYING

I’m sorry that we will probably never know your names. We will only know the name of the one who did this to you, and even then, the details are sketchy at best. He will receive all the press, and you will not. I am so sorry for that. I wish I knew your names, not to drag them through mud, but to pray for you individually, to offer you a hug, to let you know that you are not alone and that you are not at fault.

I’m sorry that the crime against you was not dealt with at the time it was committed. There will be no justice for you, because our justice system fails though it tries. I’m sorry that adults in the situation decided not to act swiftly. Though I understand their actions and their deep desire to protect their son and to get him help, I am still sorry that those decisions have affected you, the ones on whom we should be keeping focus.

I’m sorry that our culture perpetuates the lie that molestation, and other sexual crimes, are best kept secret and quiet, while the victims wander in shame. I hate that. I will always hate that. I wish I could tell you that it is okay, that it was always okay, to speak aloud what was happening to you. I pray you have a mentor, counselor, friend, parent, or other wise individual in whom you can confide, on whose shoulder you can cry, into whose arms you can fall if a memory affects you.

I’m sorry so many of us, Christian and not, have felt it our duty to throw stones on your behalf. It has long been my belief that hurting others on behalf of hurting people is no way to bring healing. The community at large does not know your story, your REAL story. We are only given what the media deems necessary to tell, true or not, in order to make a buck. This means that the number of victims in this debacle rises daily, from you to a man who made grave errors as a teen to entire families involved. And yet we still throw stones.

I have five friends who have been in your situation, though their perpetrators will never be in the news. I have been privy to their stories years after the fact, years after any legal justice could be sought. I have seen their shame-filled tears, and heard their broken voices, and watched their hands shake as they have relived their horror and became vulnerable in order to heal. I have also watched them rise from the ashes and heal and still get broken sometimes, and live incredible and brave lives. May you, all of you, do the same.

May you know daily that Christ loves you and cares for you. May you know that He redeems all things. May you know that you are beautiful and brave, and you are bigger and better than what has been done to you. God is full of unending grace and abounding love for you.

With love.