“What is your success rate at Naomi’s House?” That’s a question I’m asked all the time, and it’s right to ask it. We recently pondered this as a staff, and Amanda, our Director of Programming, had this to share with us:
We’ve met a woman in our program who had her first baby as an adolescent (under the age of 13). She was old enough to have a child but wasn’t old enough to legally smoke in IL. She spent the rest of her teenage years giving birth four more times – she wasn’t able to parent any of these babies – and through each of these pregnancies, she was sexually exploited. The list of trauma she endured goes on. So how do we measure success for this young woman? Any and every day we have with her and the opportunity to meet her emotional, physical, and spiritual needs is a success. She has every reason to block out the world and live in hiding for the rest of her life, but she is choosing to be brave and fight for her healing. That is success.
When trying to process a life like this, I’m devastated. It’s unthinkable. But then I look again to this Scripture, one which I read for the millionth time this week, for encouragement: “Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness…” (Gen 1:27 NET). I feel like that levels the playing field for me. For you. For humankind. No matter how much trauma and abuse this young woman has endured, it doesn’t change who God created her to be. And it helps me define success. We are all made in the image of God. That can really change the way we view ourselves and the world around us, and how we view success. If we started to see ourselves created in the image of God, perhaps we would give ourselves more grace and kindness. And if we saw others in the image of God, perhaps we’d offer them love and forgiveness that way God extends His heart toward us.
These simple yet profound truths are woven into the fabric of our ministry. We work with women from all over the emotional spectrum. Some women run toward their healing with gratefulness and ambition, full of confidence and hope. Others limp along their journey, questioning and doubting their own strength. I personally struggle with the ups and downs of seeing “success” and “setbacks” in everyone with whom our organization interacts. I’m constantly asking the question, “Why is healing so hard,” even when I know the biological, spiritual, and emotional impact of trauma. My head knows, but my heart wants the journey to be easier for our women.
So I come back to the truth that God shared in the beginning of His plan for us. He created us in His image, after His likeness. But because of sin, we are separated from that original plan He had for us. That separation was not a surprise to Him, and so at the right time, He implemented His solution: He sent Jesus to reconcile us back to Him. Back to His image. And I know I need to sit in that. As I process the evil and injustice we see and experience day in and day out, the truth that we are serving people who were made in the image of God restores my focus. We are broken humans with individualized stories and trauma and a mixed bag of brokenness, so today I measure our “success” by every opportunity we have to teach and point women to the truth that they too were created in the image of God. One by one, God created them for beautiful things; and despite the evil done to them, they are still worthy. Imagine the “success” the woman Amanda talked about will feel when she finally lives in the truth that God created her in His image.
Will you pray for the NH women today, made in the image of God, who are struggling to see themselves as worthy? Like one resident shared, “I know God has me here, at Naomi’s House, to work on me.”
Thankful for you,