Sometimes I just feel like crying. Every now and then, I want to shout to the top of my lungs and not care if my neighbors call the police or think that I am crazy! If a person is hit by a bus (and lives to tell the story) I’m certain that he/she won’t just get up and walk away from the scene as if nothing has happened. In fact, the person will likely lay on the ground in pain and agony. He/she will probably whimper or cry about the pain that he/she is experiencing. That’s natural. When something hurts, most people say, “OUCH!”
So why is it that so many people try to pretend as if they are strong and “pain-resistant?” Particularly, why do foster kids act as if the pains of life do not bother them? If you are wondering if you do this, then you probably do. It’s a no-brainer: foster kids try to act “tough” in the midst of their damaged lives because we have convinced ourselves that if we put up the “brick wall” and pretend as if nothing is wrong, then somehow our circumstance will magically change! And even if it doesn’t change, at least no one will ever know about it and we will feel safer and secure.
However, this mind-set is extremely flawed. Once the “brick wall” is built, there are several things that begin to happen: 1) Temporarily, you may “feel” better about yourself. This temporal euphoric “feeling” may occur because you may “feel” more in control of your life. Note the emphasis placed on feelings. Feelings are fleeting and subject to change without notice. That’s why you can feel good one second and bad the next. The "in control" feeling won't last. 2) By putting up the “brick wall” you probably will think that no more bad stuff can get “in” and hurt you. Many foster youth are successful at preventing themselves from getting hurt by other people, like their bio family, foster family, case/social workers, etc. 3) But at the same time, it is almost impossible for good stuff to get “in.” This means that the love and attention that others want to give will be rejected. When someone tries to get close to you, you will likely push them away because you would rather protect your heart from being potentially hurt than risk being loved.
This flawed mindset really shows its colors when you begin to realize that you feel alone because you have crowded out both the good and bad things that life brings your way. More specifically, you will notice that you have pushed people away from you. This is not a very fun place to be, because loneliness is, well, lonely.
Sometimes life stinks. As foster kids, we understand this fact well. Knowing this, I choose to deal with the crap that life throws my way head on. I haven’t always felt this way. In fact, I used to be one of the one’s who had a wall built higher than the Great Wall of China. I, too, have been hurt in ways that I don’t wish upon my worst enemy! I have experienced pain that I thought was unbearable. I have been bruised by people whom I trusted. I have been knocked down many times in my life. And through all of the turmoil, I once chose the easy way out by building my wall of comfort.
But now, I choose to face the pain and the trials head on. I don’t need a wall anymore. I don’t need a “quick fix” to my problems (that only makes them worse). I acknowledge that I have been wounded in life and it hurts. It hurts so much that I can’t help but say “OUCH!” And I don’t mind if other people hear me or see me.
I used to think that if people saw me cry, they would think that I was weak! That made me feel like a loser. And in order to win, I had to be tough. I couldn’t be seen as weak because then no one would respect me and those same people would use that “weakness” as a way to exploit me. I didn’t want anyone to think I was weak. I thought that Foster Care made me weak because I was hurt so badly by it. And anytime something hurts you, it takes away your strength. But thank God that’s only temporary!
I used to think being seen as weak was the worse think in the world. This is why I didn’t cry during a large portion of my years in foster care.
Like most people, I over-emphasized my strengths to over-compensate for my weaknesses (that I didn’t want people to know that I had to begin with). I excelled academically in high school. I graduated #2 in my class. I was involved in so many extra-curricular activities, I can’t even count them now. I was always loud and outspoken. I often dominated conversations and took any chance that I could to argue and debate my classmates to prove that I was better than they were and smarter. Anytime that I saw someone who I thought was weak, I capitalized on the opportunity to make them feel less than me. I thought that as long as people saw the good in me, and the bad in other people, then no one would ever see my weaknesses. Nevertheless, I was miserable.
I used to think that weakness was a bad thing. Now, I’m learning how to embrace my weaknesses. I can admit that I am flawed. I talk excessively, sometimes I’m rude, I’m loud, vain, lazy, and I am unmotivated at times. I get jealous sometimes when other people have things that I want and I am envious every now and then. I’m greedy, impatient, and I like things to be done my way. I like to think that I am right most times, I’m self centered and selfish on and off. I have a ME-PHI-ME complex and I believe that the world revolves around me, my life, and my problems.
This is only a very short list of what I consider to be only a few of my weakness. (I wouldn’t have enough time in this lifetime to name them all). And do you know what, that’s ok with me. I believe that God can really mold me into the woman of God that he is calling me to be when I learn how to embrace my weaknesses. It is my weaknesses that make me humble. I realize that only God can change those weaknesses in me. I am learning that I am like putty or clay in God’s hand once I stop trying to rely on my strengths, skills, and talents to get me through life.
My wall is coming down, just like yours needs to. I am allowing God to tear down my wall: brick by brick, stone by stone. With the wall coming down, I feel naked and exposed. And sometimes, I wanted to put some of those “bricks” and “stones” back into place. I understand that as the bricks come down, I may get hurt again and that’s scary. But that’s life. I also am loved, cared for, and adored by my friends and family.
Pain is scary, but I’m willing to face it because I choose to WIN. Yes, WIN. And winning is not only defined by how good I am. It also requires that I get better. I don’t want to win the fight of my life because I’m good. Anyone can be good. I want to win because I’m GREAT! Yes, GREAT. But not by a worldly standard of greatness…I’m referring to the type of status that only God can elevate someone to. I truly believe by faith that in order to achieve that, you have to embrace your weaknesses and allow God to be your strength. For the bible says that when we are weak, he is strong.
So when you’re hurt in life, don’t pretend that you aren’t. Say ouch. Acknowledge that you are dealing with pain that you can’t resolve. From my own personal experience, God can heal. And even if you get knocked down, that’s ok. If you get a few cuts and scrapes, that’s alright. No one ever told me that life would be easy. But as I’m gearing up for the next round in the fight of my life, I plan taking a few hits and punches, and even if I get knocked down, I know that Jesus will pick me back up!
And what’s the prize that I’m fighting for? A life filled with purpose and calling.. A life where I am a blessing to more people than I can imagine. A life of service. A life that is pleasing in the eyes of Jesus.
And here is a secret that you may not know: I WIN and YOU can too!
“In my strengths, I know God. But in my weaknesses, I need Him. And that's when He guides me most.” - -Anonymous