The skinny little girl with circles under her eyes

I saw myself at the post office today. Me 35 years ago, five years old, wide-eyed and obedient. The woman, the young girl’s caregiver, casually patted her head, smoothed the wrinkles of her coat, but without affection. It was like she was telling herself, “Look like a good caregiver. Touch the child.” But the reality of her forced affection was apparent to me.

Because I’d been there.

I’d had a babysitter who didn’t give a hoot about me.

And like the little hollow-eyed girl, I stood at obedience. Like her, my hands clasped themselves in submission behind my back. Like her, I said nothing. Did nothing to garner negative attention.

I looked into her eyes, eyes above dark semi-circles, and wondered what her story was. Abuse? Neglect? I wanted to rescue her then. To scoop the tiny girl into my arms and say, “Jesus sees you. He loves you. He’ll take care of you.”

But, of course, I stood aside, waiting patiently for my turn to buy stamps.

Sometimes gaggles of childhood grief grip me like today. Of little obedient girls not muttering a word. I thank God again that He rescued me. Loved me. Dusted me off. Chose me. But I ache for all the little girls in the world who feel alone and unprotected.

That’s why I write, folks. To eradicate hollow eyes. To soothe the demons of the past. To show the world its brutishness against the backdrop of God’s supreme grace. I write because I was that skinny girl with circles under her eyes.

And I’ve been set free.

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