This week’s post is taking a different format from my usual devotional style. I have written an open letter to foster children. Note: the child in this letter is a compilation of all the foster children who have come into my home – it is not denoting a specific child.
Dear Foster Child
You are such a lovable little person. Oh, how I long for you to believe that about yourself. You are a precious human being created in the image of Almighty God. I hope one day soon you will know that you are special, you are unique, and God put His fingerprints all over you!
When you arrived at my home: some of your peers crossed the threshold with a pensive smile and innocent curiosity, while others boldly walked in carrying your invisible backpack of laughter, drama, and childlike playfulness in an attempt to mask the fear that was just below the surface. You thought we (the social worker and me) didn’t see it. You talked “tough” trying to exhibit your bravery. I saw that too. You ARE a brave and strong person. You had to be, to endure and survive the things you did.
Dear child, you made me so grateful for my dogs. Every time one of you came, they earned the honor of “ice breaker.” The dog’s unconditional acceptance and affection brought down your walls of defense a little. The dogs were invaluable at cracking open the door to your heart. You know, that door you slammed shut, attempting to hold at bay monstrous memories and experiences. Stuffing away pain doesn’t work but you needed more time to discover that.
Sometimes stories of heartache spilled out during the ensuing days. Then I had to be brave because you trusted me with your valuable treasures. You would likely balk or feel indignant that I called your painful stories and memories “treasures.” Please let me explain myself. First, know that I am sorry for the injustices you have suffered, I’m sorry you lived through so much pain and I’m sorry you didn’t have an idyllic childhood. I call your stories treasures because the culmination of your experiences the good and the bad are in part what makes you, you.
I was unaware of the specific nitty-gritty crushing details of your particular story until you shared or it came out a bit here and a bit there. I saw the symptomatic methods of survival you were using. Unfortunately, I have tried those methods too. Much of my life was wrought with fighting and clawing away from the pit of depression and despair. I have learned to become victorious over my sorrows through my faith in Jesus Christ. He has brought healing where it seemed impossible.
If you witnessed subtle fear in me, you were correct. You were so adept at reading cues – it comes with being a survivor. You innocently vibrated the web of trauma in my own past, causing the thin veil of fear to flicker because I battle with demons too.
I regret the time I was frazzled by little annoyances and the disrespect spit out at me. It hurt and I reacted by raising my voice to match yours. The instant I observed fear in your eyes, I felt horrible and ashamed. You didn’t deserve that and that wasn’t who I wanted to be. My desire was to live in peace and unity and be a good example for you. That time I failed. I am a redeemed sinner who still stumbles. I hope you can forgive me.
It’s possible you thought I didn’t feel or didn’t care. The truth, the curse words muttered under your breath and the ugly gestures made behind my back – they hurt. I forgave you because Jesus Christ forgave me.
I was the adult you were just a child. This was about you, a foster child, having a safe, secure place to live. It was about you receiving healthy meals three times per day, having a bed to sleep in, getting to school, having appropriate clothes for the weather of the day or season, and services to assist you in growing into the person you were capable of becoming.
You have a seed of potential in you. When I imagine you as an adult this is what I see. I anticipate a person who learns to encourage the good in others because you know first-hand how much we all need a cheering squad in life. I picture a person who will become comfortable in their skin, a bold individual who exhibits fearlessness. You will still feel fear but it will no longer cripple you. You will gain the strength and wisdom to reign it in, rather than cower to fear’s bullying. I see a person who is compassionate because you learned to overcome tragic things. I believe you will be a person who finds things in life to generate laughter, maintaining a trace of the recognizable laugh you brought into my house years before. I see that and so much more in you. I hope your seed grows into full bloom. May others appreciate your inner beauty.
“Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27, CSB).
I am a follower of Jesus Christ, grandmother, great-grandmother, foster care parent, and trauma survivor. I enjoy sipping tea, writing devotionals, prayers, short stories, and unburdening my heart to the Lord. Check the About page if you want to read more of my story.
Would you like to know more about the afterlife and how you can be assured of eternity in Heaven? Check the Questions page.
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