It has been a while since I have written about our journey as foster parents. It remains a journey with extreme ups and extreme downs. There is a challenge and spiritual battle nearly everyday. There are also amazing teachable moments and victories nearly every day.
Today was an unplanned foster son room major clean up. These have been required anywhere from every 2 weeks to monthly. In preparation for Christmas today was my last chance to get the house in order before all the holiday festivities. We now have a house rule that bedrooms and personal belongings around the house need to be picked up before computer time can be granted. During school homework and violin practice needs to be completed as well. So our foster son went into his room to clean to earn computer time. At one point a bed was moved out and our son was sweeping all the toys and clutter out from behind it. This initiated exuberant praise from me. “Yes that is how to truly clean!! Great job!!!” Moments later when our child said he was done the time spent did not match the task at hand. As I went in to inspect I noticed that trash that I had noticed on the floor as the child was sweeping was not in the trash can. The wrappers I witnessed were nowhere in plain sight.
Then it happened. I discovered that a room that appeared and had been appearing pretty clean on the surface was not truly clean at all. I began moving furniture and emptying drawers. There was hoarded food, dirty laundry (I had wondered where all his socks went), pieces to games, trash, legos, chewed up wads of gum, you name it. In a mind that thinks like mine it requires far more effort to shove stuff behind and under furniture than to just put it where it goes. There was some role playing to help the child see why mom’s mood went from happy to grouchy, having the child to look me in the eyes as we talked to truly connect, there was teaching yet again on where things go, everything has a place, etc… With each discovery of stashed messes our child became more and more angry with me.
Finally after moving the night stand and finding another huge chaotic mess words came from me that I had not had time to think of on my own. Pointing to the mess I said that is what we look like on the inside before we ask Jesus to come in to clean us up. We hide our sins, stash our pain, our trash, all our junk into the deep corners of our soul so no one else can see it. God sees it though and that is why he gave us Jesus. Jesus is the only one who can find our clutter of junk and clean it out. Your room is not truly clean until all the junk stashes are sorted out. Our hearts are not truly clean until we ask Jesus to clean us. We can’t truly feel joy until our stash of trash in our hearts are cleaned out. There was a lot of tough love and firmness going on as I have had to learn to be much harder than ever before.
With tears of frustration being shed by our child during this process we did finally reach smiles and happiness upon job completion. Mom was also told “I’m sorry I had a nasty attitude.” and forgiveness was granted by momma. For a child that is from hard places there is much more meaning behind the chaos of a messy room. The control of things because that is all that a traumatized child could have any control of. The hoarding of food because it has not always been readily available or possibly used as a punishment. So much happens in lives of children from a hard place that we just never even really know about. Often the child can’t even remember the trauma let alone make the connection of past experiences effecting behavior choices. On so many levels we have had to start from the very beginning with teaching, socialization, and emotional development.
We just keep repeating and repeating teaching, loving, and tough loving.
I too had to have my heart cleaned by Jesus. I have to cry out everyday for Him to purge the messes in the corners of my heart. Sometimes it hurts I cry and get a little angry. Once the junk is purged my eyes are opened to my nasty attitude and I can ask my Lord Jesus to please forgive me. Once the chaos of my soul is clean I experience true joy and contentment. Thank you Lord for showing me tough love and grace.