Mae sat next to me on the passenger side of the car. The silence was thick in the air between us as we drove home. As part of the staff at Fatherheart Maternity Home, taking expectant moms to doctor appointments was normal.
She had just arrived at Fatherheart a week earlier, and we hadn’t had time to get to know each other yet. I began the drive that afternoon by asking her questions, none too personal, to try and get to know her a little bit. But it was clear by the roll of her eyes and her short, quick answers that she was not in the least bit interested in conversation.
I felt awkwardly uncomfortable as I tried to fish for the right words and that’s when I heard the Lord gently speak, “It’s ok to be silent.” And so that’s what’s I did. That’s what WE did. The whole ride home. She held her head down, eyes glued to her phone the entire drive.
Mae, like many girls who walk through the doors of Fatherheart maternity home, had a long history of hurt, trauma, and abuse. Relationships with family members and partners that should have been safe were painful and damaging. Boundaries were crossed and trust was broken over and over again. So she learned how to live from a place of mere survival, trusting nothing and no one, and building walls of steel around her heart. Even small questions seemed intrusive and unwelcome. I know this now.
This was Mae. She had built a wall out of fear and was determined not to let anyone get too close.
After watching Mae over the course of weeks and months throughout her pregnancy and eventual childbirth where she welcomed the most precious healthy baby boy into the world, I saw moments of vulnerability when she would let her guard down and open up, tender moments exchanged between mother and son underneath her tough exterior.
These moments were few and far between at first but more so as time went on. I became comfortable with silence. I learned to not force conversation but to wait for it to happen naturally and eventually she began to open up. Not all the way, not completely, but some.
Mae now lives in her own apartment with her son who is growing and thriving. She moved on from Fatherheart, back to her hometown, and has a car and a job. While life is still hard and has definitely not been picture perfect for her, I am proud of the strides she has taken to grow as a mother. I am also thankful she has maintained relationship with a few of our staff members here.
Mae taught me a valuable lesson: Often times we think we need all the fancy words to speak to someone’s heart. But God works even in the silence. He wants us to love people right where they are at and sometimes that means using words but other times it means moving out of the way and allowing them space and permission to just “be”, so that He can work on their hearts.
I still pray for Mae. And my hope for her, and for every young mother at Fatherheart, is that they would find their way to trust and safety again in relationship with the Lord, to know with all confidence that they are now and will always be fully known and fully loved by Him.