Tiptoeing out of the bedroom, I make no noise to wake him. I need a moment. I need to breath. I need to pray. I need to talk to God before I see his face.
He rises with anger most days, full of disgust that I would wake him. The first looks I receive are glares, not crinkly smiles. The first words I hear are criticism, not, “Good morning.”
Soon after he changes, I hear his feet coming down the stairs, stomping, agitated that they must descend. Before he turns the corner, I silently pray and then put on a smile so he can see something pleasant. I am looked right past and ignored, thrown aside because other things are more important.
Like his need for food.
This is how most days start.
It is a constant battle not to be worn down and defeated by 8 a.m.
Our foster son, though pleasant to so many, shares the real when at home with us. I won’t lie when I say there are days I feel like a prisoner.
Jailed by his behavior and attitude.
Imprisoned by my own emotions and disappointments.
So many days I drop him off at school only to drive home, crying, wondering if we made a mistake.
Constantly reminding myself that my circumstances do not dictate my joy, my happiness, my comfort.
Knowing our joy is found in the things that are not temporal, but eternal.
Putting aside past trauma and living conditions, the reality is, this child can be very hard to love some days. He is demanding, rude, selfish, and ungrateful.
But in light of what I am, we are not that much different. Christ has made me what I am… at least the good things. I do not naturally wish to care and love. I don’t have the desire to put others before myself. My love is by nature conditional and self-centered.
What I see in him, is the very nature of the person I was before Jesus.
He turned me upside down and remade me, for the better.
Though this knowledge is amazing and awesome, it does not always make things easier when faced with such difficulty.
My feelings still get hurt and my mind still goes crazy when I think about how I am treated. But I cope, because this is my calling. Jesus called. I answered. And I have to fully trust that He will supply the patience and love that I need.
If someone asked me what was the most surprising lesson I have learned so far in fostering, it wouldn’t be a parenting lesson, trauma lesson, or learning disability lesson. It would be the lesson of learning more about me and who I am.
How strong am I? Where do I lack love and compassion? Where are my weaknesses? Where do my strengths lie? How far can I be pushed?
Part of me wishes this was more profound of a message. That in the last 5 months I stepped away with this great wisdom and knowledge about how to discipline a child that has never been disciplined. Or how to help a child manage anxiety. But honestly, if we can’t deal with what is going on inside of us first, we will not be able to deal with the exterior relationships and circumstances.
So I deal.
I deal with prayer.
Knowing I cannot make it through any short period of time without consulting the ultimate consultant and seeking comfort from my Greatest Love helps me to take my next step and not curl up in a ball.
I deal with Truth.
Constantly reminding myself that the thoughts in my mind are often false and being lead by emotions get me to refocus and assess the situation. When I say the words, “This will never end!” I evaluate that. Is that really true? Well, no. Eventually the house will be quiet and no one will be demanding and criticizing. When I feel that this child is incapable of loving someone other than himself, I remember that there is One who teaches to love.
I deal with humor.
There are very few things that I cannot make funny. But when I start to take everything too serious it is time for a laugh. My girls are excellent in helping with this. And when the going gets tough and my son does something that makes you wonder what he was thinking, most of the time it is better to laugh it off and move on.
I deal by venting.
There are probably 5 friends that I call my sisters who I have periodically called or Marco Polo’d with to spew out my frustrations. Though none of them foster, they all have knowledge with kids, trauma, and life. They listen and then this beautiful thing happens, I feel so much better. They share wise words that are practical and insightful. And they always finish our time together validating my feelings and making me smile.
I deal with breaks.
Moms need timeouts too sometimes and when I announce mine, you can be sure it is well overdue. Taking a breather, whether 30 seconds or 30 minutes helps me to not explode or implode. I feel no guilt, no shame, and no one is hurt from it.
Lastly, I deal with gratitude.
Remembering why I do what I do in the first place helps me to get back to a heart that is full and not drained. I am blessed to have the ability to financially accept more children in my home. I am blessed to have the health to be able to hug and feed and read. I am blessed that God saw me fit to serve and love in His own special way to His own special little person.
I am blessed.
So though this was lengthy, I hope that you dear reader understand where I am coming from.
This life is super hard. (I know, profound!)
This calling is exhausting, lonely, and painful.
This child is broken, unrefined, and angry.
But I have a God that makes it easy.
A God that has the energy to give. The company to share. The cure for the ache.
He is the fixer of all breaks, habits, and emotions.
I cannot find a better answer to all my problems than Him.