Don't Ever Be Ashamed of Your Story
There are some things a child should never say. However, they are said. And your heart breaks a little when you hear them.
"When will I see my mom again, mommy?"
"I'm so excited for my visit!"
"When is my next court date?"
"Who is my judge?"
"Are you my social worker?"
"My name is _______ & I'm a foster child."
"I have had 3 mommies!"
"I may not be living here my next Birthday!"
"I get to see my real mom today."
These are some of the things that we have had said to us in our experience as foster parents. As sad as those questions and statements are, it's reality for them.
Recently, we took our family to a Christmas celebration that was centered around an organization providing Christmas for foster children. Our foster daughter had no idea that we were going to an event that was benefiting her. Nothing was said about it other than it was simply a Christmas event that we were all going to together. This event was at a church, not a foster care agency so again, she had no idea that this event was centered around foster children. However, the 1st thing she did when 2 kind ladies signed us in once we arrived was this:
"My name is _____________. I am a foster child. And I used to live with another family, and then another one, but now I live here with this family and the one family I lived with I didn't even know."
This sweet foster daughter of mine is 6. And smart. But there are times she has no idea how to socially connect with people. And there are times when she feels the way to connect is to simply share that she is a foster child because that has gotten her a lot of attention over the last several years. Those 2 ladies were complete strangers and simply asked for her name.
Don't misunderstand me. I am not implying that my sweet foster daughter was in the wrong. However, I am implying that it was time to have a conversation with her. This child has been in our home now for 2 years. Yet there is still this uncertainty that she feels about her future. So, she talks about it. Often. And I think this is her way of dealing with all the emotions her 6 year old body and mind are attempting to process. Things a 6 year old should never have to process.
So, when we got back in the car that day, we had a heart to heart. We talked about the importance of sharing personal information at the right time and with the right people, not complete strangers, even when those strangers are kind. And I looked her square in her beautiful blue eyes and reminded her to NEVER be ashamed of her story. I reminded her that being a foster child is NOT something to hide or be ashamed of, EVER! But it's also not who she is. It's part of her story, yes... but not who she is. I reminded her that yes, the time and place where she chose to share too much personal information about herself to a complete stranger while there was a line of people behind us was not the best choice... BUT that the choice to share her story was necessary and purposeful and important.
We live in a scary scary time. Especially for young girls. Young girls who are vulnerable and trusting to absolutely anyone because they have been forced into situations and lived with people they did not know because of the choices of their parents. We live in a time where if we do not teach these young girls that there is a time and place for everything, they could share their story with the wrong person at the wrong time and it be detrimental to them. So, the conversation to share her story when the time is right is a conversation I will keep having with her and any other child that enters my home.
I have always loved the verse Isaiah 61:3 which says, "he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory."
I will keep telling my sweet sweet blue eyed daughter that God will give her a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning and a festive praise instead of despair. I will tell her over and over again that her story matters and that God wants to use it. I will tell her over and over again that her story SHOULD be shared. I will tell her over and over again that stories have happy endings if we love Jesus and that my prayer is that HER story will be shared a lot different one day. But right now, this is how she knows to share it. And right now, I have to teach and guide her on who hears it.
One of the things I struggle with sometimes is being "too open". Sometimes I just don't know how to shut my mouth. I think it and more times than not, I say it. My, how this sweet daughter of mine reminds me of myself in a lot of ways. And how God uses her sweet soul to remind me that "Being confident of this that He who began a good work in you will bring it completion at the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6)
God is not done with her and God is not with me... or you! God is working in her little life, I just know it! And God is using a blabber mouth like me to guide her (Lord help us)! ;) I am so encouraged that God uses all people and all things for good to those who love Him. I am encouraged that even when our beautiful foster daughter says something that probably shouldn't have been said at the time, God used it someway and somehow. And maybe He used it simply so my husband and I could guide and direct her in more healthy ways to share her story!
Either way, I'm glad it happened because God has a purpose in all things. Our job is simply to obey the Holy Spirits' leading as we handle situations trusting and knowing there is a purpose!
If my sweet daughter chooses to shares her story someday publicly or privately, I hope she shares it boldly, confidently, unashamedly and in a way that ALL the glory goes to our heavenly Father.