September 26, 2013
Reaching Her Heart
Good morning, Honey!
I hope you slept well. Go ahead and have a seat. Breakfast is almost r . . . What are you wearing?
Well, I can see that you’re wearing clothes, but do you think that’s really an appropriate thing to wear to school?
What’s wrong with it? This is how I always dress.
Um, isn’t your skirt is a little short?
And your sweater is pretty low-cut.
My other foster mom used to let me wear it. I mean, she’s the one who bought it for me!
Well, you are living in my home now, and we have rules about modesty. And believe me, those clothes are definitely not modest. I need you to change, please.
I’m not going to change. Why should I even listen to you? (scoffs) Look at the ugly clothes that you are wearing!
We also happen to have rules about respect in this house. You will not speak to me that way, young lady!
Whatever. (door slams)
Gee, that went well! How did the conversation go from 0 to skirmish in less than 30 seconds? Does every morning really need to begin by engaging in a battle with the resident teenager?
Each day unfolds in 1,440 ordinary moments. Each day, as we encounter the various people in our lives, we are given countless opportunities, not only to grow and learn and mature, but also to make a difference. To impact the life of another person.
A mother preparing scrambled eggs and buttered toast for her family. A sixteen year old getting dressed for school. An everyday, uneventful routine until two people interact. Words are exchanged, fiery emotions roar to life, a splinter of a relationship is broken off. That one moment, that one chance to impact a life is forever lost.
Are her clothes really that important? Why was I so focused on her appearance, that I failed to see her heart? A heart full of loneliness and unworthiness, a result of knowing that her mother chose boyfriends over daughters; that her father abandoned her before he even set eyes on her. A heart that has been hardened through years of promiscuity, years of seeking love and acceptance from selfish men who only take and give nothing. A heart crushed by shame at the memory of the tiny lives that were growing inside of her that she chose to end.
How can I ever hope to reach her? To show her the love and acceptance that she so desperately craves?
When she arrived at my home, her social worker handed me a notebook that included a list of Independent Living Skills, a checklist to help prepare her for the grown-up life ahead. She has so much to learn in such a short amount of time! The list is specific and objective:
Plan and prepare nutritious meals for herself.
Read a recipe.
Open a bank account and establish a budget.
Write a check.
Get a drivers license and save money for a car.
Read the schedule for public transportation.
Fill out a job application. Go to work on time.
Choose a doctor and dentist. Make appointments.
Know the proper way to use contraceptives.
Access community resources.
I can do that. I can help her check off a list and prepare for the practical needs of everyday life. However, there is another, more essential task that lies before me: to reach her heart. Does it matter if she knows how to launder her own clothes, if she doesn’t know how to choose the right ones, clothes that are becoming to a lovely young lady worthy of respect? Yes, she needs to learn the proper way to make her bed. But more importantly, how can I teach her how to protect her bed from those who will abuse it.
Time is short. My days with her are limited. Oh, how I want to make an impact on her in ways that truly matter! To let her know that although her earthly parents and numerous foster parents have disappointed her, she has a Heavenly Father who will never leave her (Deuteronomy 31:8).
Once she turns 18, there will be no one to mentor her. No mother to help her prepare a Thanksgiving meal, no father to show her the fine art of changing the oil in her car. But I can remind her again and again that she will never be truly alone. Though the path ahead is frightening, she has a Rock and Fortress who will be right there with her, leading and guiding her (Psalm 31:3).
The great thing about parenting is that when you fail, hope is not forever lost. Most likely, in the 1,440 ordinary moments of today and then again in the routine of tomorrow, there will be another opportunity to try again.
Good morning, Honey!
I hope you slept well. Go ahead and have a seat. Breakfast is almost ready. Would you like milk or orange juice?
I really need coffee!
Are you ready for your day at school? What do you have going on today?
Nothing really. Just a lame algebra test.
I know you studied hard for it. I’m sure you will do great. Have you made any new friends yet? I can only imagine how hard it must be, going to a new school every time you change foster homes.
Yeah, it pretty much sucks.
I’m so sorry, Honey. I’ll be praying for you today – for your algebra test, and that you would make some good friends. Remember that God is right there with you.
Um, thanks, I guess.
How about if I pick you up after school, and we can go shopping for some new clothes?
I can’t. I already used my clothing allowance for this month.
Oh, that’s okay. I’m sure we can find a good sale. And I don’t mind buying a few things for you.
Why? What’s wrong with the clothes I’m wearing? Don’t you like them?
Well, it’s not that I don’t like them, exactly. I just think that a beautiful young lady like you should wear clothes that are more modest.
What do you mean?
Well, your body is a unique gift, something that God gave just to you. And you can save your special gift for that someone special who comes into your life later on. Before then, it should be wrapped and protected, in such a way that not just anybody can see it. Does that make sense?
I guess so. No one has ever really explained it that way to me before.
Hey, come on, beautiful girl! Finish up, or you’ll be late for school. And remember, we have a shopping date this afternoon!
(laughs) Sounds good. See ya!
A mother preparing scrambled eggs and buttered toast for her family. A sixteen year old getting dressed for school. An ordinary moment until two people interact. Words are exchanged, hearts connect, the fragile bond of a new relationship is strengthened.
May that one moment, that one encounter impact a life. May it be the beginning of reaching her heart.