We've all felt rejection.
Whether you were turned down for a date or a job, rejection hurts and takes time to heal.
Being rejected by a parent, however, leaves a scar that never goes away. Nonetheless, as eight women learned, the pain of rejection can begin to fade when the love and grace of Jesus fills your heart.
The small town of Bonner Springs grew a little bigger when nine women from the Haskell Light Campus Ministry visited the Hollis Lutheran Renewal Center for a weekend retreat.
"The goal," Patricia Main (Cree), Haskell LIGHT co-director, explained, "was to deal with issues of the heart, particularly rejection, abandonment, and feeling unloved. We really wanted everyone to leave with a solid understanding of just how much God, our Heavenly Father, loves them, but to do that we had to first look at the broken families and the history of abuse that have tainted our picture of fatherly love."
Of the nine women attending, seven of them were raised solely by a mother or another female relative which is just slightly above the nationwide statistics that states the percentage of single parent homes within Native communities is just above 50%.
Research has shown the positive effect fathers have in their children's lives, as well as the consequences of growing up with a male role model. Compound this with the high levels of physical and sexual abuse, and drug and alcohol addiction among Native groups, and we see multiple generations of not only broken families but broken people.
Broken people who have never experienced the love of a father, and therefore, cannot fathom the unconditional and unwavering love of the Father.
But thanks to this time away from the hustle of daily life, these nine women had the opportunity to spend time with their Heavenly Father and take advantage of the friendship and guidance of fellow women.
Before Native peoples can put on the full armor of Christ (Ephesians 6:11-17), they must first take off the cloak they have been wearing—the cloak of pain and distrust that they put on to shield themselves from hurt and has covered their lives and their secrets in darkness. Before they can accept the unconditional love of a Heavenly Father, they must come to grips with their feelings toward their earthly father.
By providing safe places, where Native people can tell their stories of abuse and addiction, trained LIM staff can help guide them toward a path of healing. This initial step is critical to helping Native people break the cycle of intergenerational pain, suffering, sorrow, addiction, and affliction that has haunted and plagued them for hundreds of years. And, it is essential in fully understanding the story of Jesus, our Savior, and the love of God.