By Erin Martin
Today marks my first anniversary at Shining Light Children’s Home. As I reflect on this past year, I am reminded of the many lessons I’ve learned.
- God ALWAYS comes through. On the hard days when it was difficult to get up, and I felt like I could not keep going, I learned to take a moment and cast my cares and troubles on God. It made the biggest difference, and I was amazed at how my perspective shifted. It helped me remember all the things God has done for me in the past, and it gave me the strength to keep pressing on.
- Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. This is rarely easy. In fact, it is quite frightening. So much is learned when you dare to step outside of the life you’ve always known or challenge yourself to do things differently from the way you have in the past. New experiences are so enriching and rewarding. I personally challenge you to take that step! If you allow God to lead you through it, He will give you the strength and wisdom needed to overcome any fears or circumstances along the way.
- Love like Jesus. By working with these children and striving to love them as my own, I’ve seen a glimpse of God's love for me. Loving someone unconditionally and without reservation can be a difficult challenge when you do not know or fully trust one another. Both individuals are vulnerable, and it can be tough to fully open your heart; especially when these children act out in a way that isn’t very "loveable". This is often a result of the trauma experienced from their past, but it is my privilege to love them as God loves me. I’m reminded, “Isn't that what God does for each of us?” Even though I am unworthy, He calls me His child and loves me despite my failures.
- I AM SO BLESSED. Of course, I know that. I've always known that. Living here, and learning the survival stories of these children, God has opened my eyes to this in a whole new way. Many of these children have lived through horrific, traumatic experiences. I will never understand why God allowed me to be born into a home with parents who truly loved me, cared for me, and shielded me from so much, while numerous children are not. I am fortunate to have been raised this way, and thankful for the opportunity to share this blessing with the children in my care.
These are just a few of the lessons learned over the past year. In many ways, being here has been one of the hardest things I've ever done, but it has also been one of the most rewarding blessings in my life. I'm thankful for the countless experiences and the relationships built with so many wonderful people.