Friday, April 15, 2016
Do you remember the little seven year old with the braided hair?
You know the one.
The foster child who was sent to wait for me, her social worker, on the front porch of her foster home because they no longer wanted her.
Do you remember this Father?
Sitting on the cold, wet concrete steps of a home that just days before welcomed her in as a new family member- to this particular evening where they kicked her out, indefinitely.
Her behaviors were too bad. Too ugly. Too destructive. Too....
So, at 2:am they provided her with a much-too-large black garbage bag to pack up her few belongings and sent her to the front porch under the slightly glowing porch light, to wait for me.
In the dark.
In the middle of the night.
Seven years of age.
Father, does she still have the haunting memory of this?
Maybe the sound of the door closing and locking behind her as she fearfully began to sit down on the cold step to wait for my arrival, all the while clinging to a garbage bag of her life.
Pulling up that late evening onto the cracked and uneven driveway of a questionable Detroit neighborhood, I still remember the Jeep's headlights outlining her frizzy, unkept, sweet little braids- yes, the individual strands on her head that have been each counted by you, Jesus.
That picture of her, Lord.
Yes, you know the one.
Tears streaming down her face and neck as she gripped onto the only tangible thing that was hers, a black oversized garbage bag.
Trying to be strong, this seven year old, but internally wounded, broken, confused and beaten down.
But You, Father God,
You saw beyond her behaviors and straight to her fears.
You saw beyond her confusion and straight to her needs.
You saw beyond her anger and straight to her pain.
You saw beyond her tears and straight to her heart.
Yes Jesus, you knew the reality of her life;
What her eyes had seen.
What her ears had heard.
What her body has been subjected to.
What her mind had been informed.
What her life had been labeled.
All by the age of seven short years.
Oh Father God, her behaviors were only a natural byproduct of the horrific injustice, the enormous violations, the unthinkable negligence, the detestable abuse and the hideous disregard to the preciousness, value and worth of her life.
Father, as Jamie and I took her soft little hand into ours, we led her safely and carefully into the Jeep where my arms spread across her shivering shoulder. Gripping onto this little life that was shaking from the elements of the night air, but also from the fear which consumed her confused and broken heart, her head hesitatingly but eventually found its way onto my lap where she fell asleep until we reached another home. Another placement. Another opportunity for rejection.
Oh Father God, why is it that nearly 20 years later, there isn't a week that goes by in my everyday life when You don't place this on my heart and mind?
Yes, this memory, this precious one, that night, that young age, that door-step, that garbage bag, that jeep ride, those braids- they tell a story in the confinement of my heart. A story of me, them, us.
Maybe we are the little seven year old who was exposed to the harshness, darkness, cruelty, injustice of this world system that belongs not to You Perfect Father, but to that of the one who seeks to kill, steal and destroy.
With each rejection,
With each shame msg,
With each violation,
With each lie,
With each addiction,
With each compulsion,
With each failure,
Oh, but how You see us as I saw this seven year old;
....regardless of the behaviors.
They may have scared her foster parents.
They may have frightened others.
They may have upset those around her.
But to You, dear Father, You see beyond that which frightens others and separates the beauty from the ashes.
Yes, there was nothing more beautifully treasured in all the world than this prized possession snuggled in my lap that one September evening in 1998.
My eyes had never seen such perfection.
My heart had never experienced such a treasure.
My mind had never conceived such a love as it did that one evening in the presence of this little one who was rejected, labeled, shamed, spit-out, abused and dismissed by a world who judged her according to her survival mechanism of poor-behavior.
You are not the least intimidated by our poor choices, our strong-holds, our failures, our short-comings, our defects of character. No, there is no kicking-out and sending us to the front porch when we behave poorly.
Instead, you offer the gift of grace. Oh, the greatest gift of all time. No ear has heard, no eye has seen, no mind could imagine that which you have prepared for those that love you.
You prepare and offer us a home of protection, of love, of grace, of kindness, of security, of acceptance, of freedom, of forgiveness so that we can have a new, restored, redeemed, rebuilt life. One that takes our poor behavior and radically transforms it into something unfathomably beautiful.
No, fear & cruelty are not your weapons of defense against our poor behaviors and choices. Instead, your grace, love and unthinkable mercy changes our hearts and therefore releases us from the captivity and bondage of the enemies web- often seen as bad behavior to the outside world.
It's here, Father, in this transaction can our "bad-behavior" be fully, completely and radically eliminated. Your cross is the Only answer. Your cross is the only remedy. Your cross is the only cure. Your cross is the only solution. Your cross is my home.