the three most difficult words to say

We sat together eating a feast and sharing our life stories. During which, she shared the trauma of her past. There was no shame in her voice nor was there a quiver in her lip. She experienced a pain unimaginable and had the resolution to be strong amidst the tragedy of a childhood lost to abuse and neglect. I sat in awe and listened intently. As she finished I said, “This is a weird question, but I want to ask: how do you want me to love you?”

“I don’t know,” she said. The next words flowed from her mouth beautifully, “I want you to be consistent.”

It has been two months since we moved into the Thrive Quad – a transitional living center for single women and mothers who were formerly in the foster care system. This is more than a building or a series of apartments. This home is where peace has been curated by the hands and geniuses of so many people. Every room has layers of prayers baked into the walls: prayers for healing, hope, restoration, protection, and victory in Christ. We’re still in the early stages of relationship forming. In fact, this is the part in the relationship timeline where there are awkward moments, discomforts, and oddities just waiting to be experienced. Every interaction brings a new lesson in how to fill in the gap and become someone passionately committed to seeing these women and children transition into healthier lives.

Every woman here has asked for the same type of love in their own words. To them, love looks like consistency. It’s the kind of consistency that doesn’t look away when the ugliness of trauma is revealed. It’s the kind of consistency that pushes forward despite disappointment, hardship, or arguments. It’s the kind of consistency that said, “I’m still here,” even if my personal convictions are being scrutinized or my children are being picked on. Consistency is the first step of developing a trusting relationship that seeps into the broken places of the human heart. When it comes to doing Christ’s work of restoration trust is everything. How could we not have accepted him as our Lord and Savior if we did not trust His goodness? I believe that when God made language he made the words “trust” and “love” to be companions that are intertwined but not to be mistaken.

If you think about it, the three most difficult words that one human being can say to another are NOT “I love you.” Rather, it is saying ,“I trust you” — that is more difficult to say.

Thus we use consistency as a chisel that chips away at hearts hardened by abuse and neglect because hard hearts cannot receive love unless trust breaks down its walls. Here at the Quad we show how love never gives up. We show how love is always available. We show how love is always within reach. And we continue on because the good work of restoration lies in these small moments and safe spaces of our newly made home.

Camille Hernandez
On-Site Mentor, THRIVE Quad