Once again, I probably should have seen the warning signs…and I guess I did to an extent. I’ve been doing this for over two years now, but right in the midst of a season growth and good days for James, I somehow dismissed the sudden regression and the random behavior issues. Not all of it was glaring, but it was there. So, as you can imagine, I wasn’t quite prepared for Valentine’s Day this year when he suddenly burst into uncontrollable tears while claiming that his sister gave him a “funny look.”
In just ten minutes, we were going to be hosting six ladies for our first annual Valentine’s Day Tea Party at The Schoolhouse, so needless to say, it was not the best time for a full-fledged melt down. I knew I didn’t have time to delve into the depths of the despair that he felt, and I also knew that he was really looking forward to the party, so I just asked him to go collect his thoughts and come out when he was ready.
It wasn’t long before he came out of the bathroom with dry eyes and a big smile. And boy, did he ever shine at that party. He is a gifted conversationalist and makes everyone feel included and important. It’s one of the things that just comes naturally to him. He cares deeply for others. He spoke at all the right times with all the eloquence I could ask for from a nine year old boy. He beamed the entire time.
I thought there was a chance that with the fun and success he felt at the tea party, the sorrow had passed, so I decided not to bring it up again. But the next morning, I could tell it was gnawing at him. I knew what had to be done, so the first chance I got, I sat down across from him in the kitchen chair and asked what was bothering him. This may seem like an easy question but for a young boy, it’s not. It’s particularly tricky to one who is sorting out a difficult past. I may as well have been asking for the keys to Alcatraz. I persisted though. I know how to get a kid’s emotional dam to break. You just gently keep making little knicks with a pick until the whole dam is compromised. I had him to tell me all the little things that were bothering him until the big things just couldn’t be held back any longer and burst forward with all the pressure of the Hoover Dam.
The years of carrying the stigma of being “different”, of being a “foster kid” started rolling down his cheeks. Pretty soon after that process began, we got to the core of the hurt…”But Mom, why me? Why did God do that to me?”
I wasn’t prepared for the rush of pain that surged through my body at that heart cry. Tears started welling up in my own eyes until they spilled over onto my cheeks. Somehow, seeing me cry caused him to stop. Ever so gently, he used his blanket to wipe my eyes and gave me a big hug and rubbed my back softly. It was my turn now. I guess those tears were the heartache of your child not knowing what a precious gift he was. It was the pain of your child being angry with your God, who you love so dearly. It was the sadness of seeing him struggle to understand how his entire life has glorified God in a unique and special way when you can see it so clearly. It was the fact that he was hurting, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to take it away.
I made him look me in the eye (running with mascara trails by now) and I did my very best to give him what he needed to hear, silently asking God to give me the words. I told him how he is a person full of compassion. I told him that the days of being a “foster kid” are over. I assured him that he is ours forever. I talked to him about God’s sovereignty and how we don’t always know the why behind the things that happen but we can trust God because he’s a good Father…the best. God is always faithful and always good, just and right. We discussed where he had been and how bright his future looked.
And then we got to the part that he needs to hear over and over again. This principle outlines every conversation. I told him that we can live our lives making excuses and feeling sorry for ourselves and for what’s happened to us, or we can live our lives asking God how we can glorify him through our situations. I told him once again that life isn’t fair, a fact that he knows all too well. And then I told him that we can choose to listen to the lies that Satan whispers in our ear telling us that we aren’t good enough and never will be, or we can listen to the truth of God. That we don’t have to be good enough…He loves us anyway with a never-ending, unfailing, always and forever kind of love.
And that is my biggest, most fervent prayer for James. That he will begin to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ for him. For James Wood.
We covet your prayers for James to understand this as well, and for all the children who have been abandoned at some point in their life. It is so hard for them to understand unconditional love, because they weren’t given it at the time when they needed it most. One of the best things that you can do for waiting children in Arkansas and around the world, is to pray that they will somehow grasp the Father’s love for them. That in the midst of their heartache, the Lord would wrap his arms around them and show Himself in a tangible way through the hands and feet of Jesus…through The Church…through YOU.
This is my heart’s cry today…that Christians all over will realize the huge responsibility we have to pray for, to love, to care for, to raise these children. Because without the love of people, how can they ever begin to understand the love of Jesus Christ?