A Filtered Life
Friday is my last day of work. I have been thinking a lot about the 8.5 months I have worked here at Hope for Tomorrow. HFT is a foster agency which services all of Texas and is about to enter Oklahoma, Arkansas and Mexico. My job has been Clinical Director for half of Texas’ 10 regions.
I was not too excited about my actual job description when I began. Basically, I was to read and correct treatment plans on children making sure that all the necessary components were included and that the grammar and spelling, etc. was correct. Interacting with children and foster parents was not in my job description. Despite not being the kind of guy that really likes paperwork, I found a certain joy in my job.
In a lot of ways I had a filtered glimpse at the abused lives of the children we serve. Every child placed with HFT is removed from their home by the state due to abuse or neglect. Some cases are much worse than others but what I see is only words on a page. Those words are descriptive of actions and behaviors that are the result of the shattered lives these kids have lived. They only describe in a simplified way the beatings, verbal attacks, sexual invasion, and abandonment these kids have experienced.
Sometimes I was glad all I saw was a filtered glimpse of their lives.
We do not like to think that these things happen. We think it is atrocious when they do. We may offer a prayer over lunch for the kid we heard about on the news, but then we often go back to our filtered lives.
On the rare occasion that I have gotten to interact with a child that has come into the office, I am sometimes shocked by how “normal” the child appears given his/her history. Sometimes I even get uncomfortable because my life is not so filtered anymore. There is now a face to put with the name.
How close can I get without getting hurt? I want to help but not at the expense of my own comfort and well-being. I would like to do something for these kids but I am afraid I might get too invested and then experience loss when I (or they) move on. These are some thoughts I have had since I began working here.
Now I am transitioning into children’s ministry. Can I be invested without risk? My time at HFT has shown me that I cannot. When I attempt to keep safe my filtered life, I sacrifice relationships that could grow. Kids do not receive the care they need when we do not put ourselves 100% out there for them. Unless we are willing to become vulnerable to the hurt they feel, we will not be doing them good. Their lives have been plagued by “caregivers” who held back love.
I hope that the children I work with in Mesquite will find that I am someone who does not hold back and is willing to live a life unfiltered by my own self-preservation. I hope that I am able to make them feel that when I am with them, they are cherished by God. I hope they know that there isn’t anyone who can love them as much as he.