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Hidden Children, Hidden Lives

When I was 10 or 11 years old, I had a set of dear friends at school. We would play double-dutch together, study together, and when we felt especially grown-up, we would pick up a $1 slice of pizza and head across the street to the candy store and load up Nerds, Nowandlaters, pixie sticks, and other sweet school candy treasures. Together.


When I was 10 or 11 years old, I had a set of dear friends at school. We would play double-dutch together, study together, and when we felt especially grown-up, we would pick up a $1 slice of pizza and head across the street to the candy store and load up Nerds, Nowandlaters, pixie sticks, and other sweet school candy treasures. Together.

One day, though, the path of one of those dear friends veered violently away from the innocence that cocooned the rest of us. Actually, it must have taken more than a solitary day to create the trauma that so impacted my friend that, at the ripe old age of 11, she decided to take her own life.

It surely took more than one day in her hidden life, a life that I can now only guess was filled with the burdens of a latch-key kid of a single mother, the precocious molestations of boys in upper grades, or worse, mom’s boyfriends, or the scare of pregnancy at age 11.

Whatever happened in her hidden life that in my child-eyes made her wise beyond her years, able to answer questions that I was too shy to ask my mother, and also clouded her beautiful face with what I would later recognize as melancholy, whatever it was, got the better of her.

They found her, unconscious but alive, since she didn’t take enough pills to die. And she came back to school, back to studying, back to pizza slices and the candy store, back to us. I remember that I reasoned that the best way I could love and protect her was to never mention It again. Ignore It. To my knowledge, the teachers and guidance counselor had the same strategy.

So when I read this article, it cut me to the quick. What in his hidden life would compel a 9-year-old to hang himself in school? What was the unbearable pain? And how did his young soul find its only solace in the thought of death?

We still need Jesus to lay hands on our children’s lives, as he persisted in doing in Matthew 19:13-15. And I am reminded that I need to ask God for discernment to see the melancholy eyes and hidden lives of the children I am blessed to be around. I need to be Jesus’ hands; protecting and blessing children, especially in a time where 9-year-olds end their lives, latch-key kids languish as easy prey, and so many from other countries are trafficked in to be abused as slaves.

We cannot afford to neglect the children whom Jesus defended and loved.

Sharifa Stevens

Sharifa Stevens is a Manhattan-born, Bronx-raised child of the King, born to Jamaican immigrants, and currently living in Dallas. Sharifa's been singing since she was born. Her passion is to serve God's kingdom by leading His people in worship through music, speaking and writing, and relationships with people. Her heart is also unity, inspired by John. Sharifa hates exercise but likes Chipotle, bagels with a schmeer and lox, salmon sushi, chicken tikka, curried goat (yeah, it's good) with rice and peas, and chocolate lava cakes. She's been happily married to Jonathan since 2006...and he buys her Chipotle.

3 Comments

  • Avatar

    shirley christopher

    After hurricane Katrina I
    After hurricane Katrina I found out that there were quite a number of unaccounted registered sex offenders on the loose. To make matters worse some had taken lost children as their own.( they did an episode on “Law and Order-SVU” about that).
    The situation made me so sick and helpless. I then thought , oh well, all I can do is “just pray”. It’s a phrase I’ve use so many times but it’s such a wonderful place to be because I then surrender to God,the Almighty. It led me to supplicate my concerns for the children, giving Him thanks and praise. Peace comes and I thank God for being God.
    My concern is there in so many situatios where children are vunerable and at risk . In addition to doing what I can, ( which, truth be told, I don’t always do anything) I just pray.
    The Haitian children need fervent prayer. Let’s not forget the children all over the world: Asia, Africa, Middle East, The Americas, Europe, and the Caribbeans…where ever——just pray!!!
    Sha, you are so right. contiue to keep your passion for life and righteousness… the more you have the more you ‘ll share.

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    Sue Bohlin

    “Never mention it again”

    Sharifa, I so understand the dynamics of believing we are protecting someone to not talk about "the elephant in the room." I wonder if it’s not our default position unless we’ve seen another strategy modeled for us. That was certainly the case with me; doctors and others instructed my parents not to talk about my polio, lest I be tempted to give into the cardinal sin of self-pity. No one ever asked what it was like to be me; no one ever spoke the affirmation I longed for but didn’t dare let myself even think about: "I’m so sorry this happened to you, but it’s not your fault. And you are no less valuable a person because of how the effects of living in a fallen world have slammed into your life."

    I pray that your experience with your precious friend encourages us all to speak up with compassion and grace when we see that something, anything, is clouding a child’s face: "Is there something troubling you? Tell me how your heart hurts. Together we’ll take it to Jesus."

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    Gail Seidel

    My heart hurts with you Sharifa
    I can’t imagine how the pain of a child must impact our Savior who loved little chidren so. Thank you for this strong reminder to notice, inquire, reach out and pray!