This week we have an extra 7-year old living with us, a sweet little boy named B. His cow-licked blond hair, gray-blue eyes, and rambunctious nature remind me of my own boy. Yet, he’s not like any boy I’ve ever known. I’m not used to hanging out with children who have lost everything precious to them. For B, riding in the car stirs up memories of loss. He says that he lived on our side of town before with another foster family. Riding down the roads near our home, he sees places that remind him of families that have left him and moved on. He used to go to our Starbucks for hot chocolate and to our YMCA to swim. He’s lived with several different families in the past year. For my kids, they go to the park to be pushed high on swings by loving hands, run wild, and have picnics. But for this precious boy, the park reminds him of a place he used to go with another family— a family that has moved on. Passing by one of my favorite restaurants today brought up a reminder of another loss — the last time he was there with his mother.
Today we went to lunch with some friends and I’m not sure what overtook my body when another boy began to bully our sweet B. I mean, I can certainly become a helicopter parent with my own children-- my own flesh and blood. But, I was shocked by my barbaric reaction when I saw another boy bullying B through the glassed-in play area. I jumped out of my seat and ran with a pointed finger up to the glass, wagging it towards the boy with a mean Mama Bear face. What in the world is overtaking me? I guess the Mama Bear instinct comes out of us even when they’re not our own flesh and blood. Just 15 minutes earlier, B offered to pray for our meal and he prayed for MY children each by name to have a good day at school today. Oh precious boy!
After lunch, a trip to the grocery store prompts him to peruse the free magazines at the entrance. I go for the free car and truck magazines thinking those would be fun for boys. Instead, he goes for the apartment magazines.
Mama says I need to help pick out a new house. Our neighborhood is bad—gunshots and drugs.
Again, I am hit by the reality in which he lives. Shouldn't he be thinking about the things of 2nd grade--wiggling loose teeth and learning to tie his shoes? I want to crawl into the fetal position and weep for this boy and the brokenness of this world. Instead, we head to the snack aisle and pick out boxes of Spiderman cheese crackers to take to the rest of the kids we’re picking up for carpool. We blast his favorite music on the way to pick up the kids and he sings loudly and looks through his magazines (I did convince him to get some car and truck magazines for fun). I sit in carpool line thinking about schoolwork and dinner and he shouts from the back seat every few seconds: Mrs. Melanie, Mrs. Melanie here’s the perfect place to live! Me and my mom can move here! And, yes, he got 2 of the apartment magazines just in case he should ever lose one. While my boys dream of what they’ll be when they grow up…typically dreaming of becoming millionaires with a Ferrari or some other expensive car, this dear boy is dreaming about going home to his mom. And again, I want to crawl into a corner of my car and weep.
For me, I easily move to despair. I want to cry my eyes out over the brokenness and mess of this world. I can easily wander down a road that takes me to dark places. But, the Father graciously reminds me of what a mess my own life has been. He is continually making things new. He is shining light in the dark places. He ALWAYS brings good to His people. So, in the mess of B’s story, I am trusting the Father is weaving a beautiful tapestry full of mercy and grace into this sweet boy’s life. He is not done with him. This is all part of B's story-- for HIS glory. There is always hope. He has B in the palm of His hand.
So, when this sweet boy whispers at bedtime for me to pray for his real mom in the glow of the nightlight, I can do so with the hope of the gospel.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jer 29:11)
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