Recently, God used an Ethiopian girl to teach me a lesson. It isn't anything profound, I suppose, but it was something I needed to learn. Have you heard the saying, “Every cloud has a silver lining”? In a way, that is the lesson I have been learning through M’s ever-changing story. The twists and turns her life has taken over the years have kept me on pins and needles ever since I met her in 2009.
You see, she’s absolutely wonderful – always has been. In fact, it’s not just me who thinks so. There are countless others who have become captivated by this spunky, yet sweet, girl. She often has someone rooting for her, asking about her, praying for her, offering to adopt her – she’s seriously that great.
M is smart, funny, personable and sweet, but she's also human. Like all of us, M is pulled toward things she has struggled with in her past. Long story short, M is drawn to the streets. Maybe it’s the freedom she found there when she ran away from home. Or the friends there who have become her family in the absence of her biological family. Or the highs that street life brings. Or whatever else the illusive streets of Addis Ababa have that keeps kids coming back for more.
After doing so well in TFC’s sponsored girls’ halfway home, M went back to the streets a few months ago. I was heartbroken. I immediately felt hopeless for her. You see, she has done this before (several times), and I just couldn’t imagine another return…
Then, about a month ago, as I video-conferenced with Nega, director of Onesimus, I saw an unbelievable sight - there she was, sitting with Nega, smiling! I broke out my horrible Amharic (I’m a little rusty!) to try to communicate with her. Just the sight of M’s smiling face and the fact that she was with Nega made me happy. But there was more.
I learned that she is no longer on the streets! Instead, she is living with an organization that is teaching her a trade. She explained how, after 8 months of training, she plans to use her new skill to start her own small business. She seemed excited as she told me about it.
Of course, I was thrilled with this news at first. But then my expectations for M got in the way. "A trade?" I thought, "No, she has so much more potential… she should be in school, teaching others, becoming a leader."
This train of thought went on for some days, and then God reminded me of something: He can use M either way! Whether she is a well-educated woman or a woman living on the streets, God can use M to impact His nation of Ethiopia. Of course, I want what’s best for this child, but my expectations for her distracted me from the silver lining of her life – she’s His, and that makes all the difference in the world.
I thank God for M, her story, and what God has in store for her, even if it looks different than what I have always dreamed.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55: 8 & 9