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Choices….and trust

April 1, 2009
     One of the things that I talk with the kids about consistently is choices……that what we choose is who we are.   The kids can choose to add to the hurtful teasing that one child is doing to another or they can choose to tell the "teaser" that what they are doing is wrong.  They can choose to admit to something they did..or they can say that someone else did it.   They can choose to obey or disobey.  Seems simple…but it is not.  Many of the kids who come to us when they are older have learned a different aspect of choosing.  They have learned to make choices that lead to survival; sometimes literal physical survival, sometimes just making their life a little bit easier to endure.  Sometimes the only way to survive is to choose to lie,  to steal, to hurt someone else before they hurt you. Sometimes it is  an innate fear that cannot be fully understood by them – they simply choose what seems to lead to survival. That is reality in the culture of poverty.  Those choices have been made by every older child that has come to us at one time or another.  And those choices did help them to survive.  I cannot fault the kids for those choices.  Getting the kids to realize that they are in a safe place now also seems like a simple thing,  but it is not.   Some of our kids take a long time to trust our words and our actions, to fully surrender their care to us, to believe that there will be another full meal in just a few hours.  It always makes me sad to see the kids having trouble making the obvious RIGHT choice, but I know that it  often comes from a deep seated inability to trust.  No one has proved trustworthty before…how could they learn trust?  They have had to make decisions and choices to protect themselves..because no one else was, at least not consistently.   I work closely with our counselors, our house parents and our child care workers to understand this and to consistently work towards being TRUSTWORTHY so that our kids can feel safe. If they feel safe they can begin to make "good" choices, choices based on what is right vs. what is wrong, not choices that are about literal survival.  It is an honor and blessing to see this happen, with some kids trust comes fairly easily, with some it never totally comes.  Every day we will continue to work with our kids, to prove to them that we are trustworthy and to guide them to be able to make good choices. It’s not always easy and it keeps us busy…but it is worth every moment to see genuine trust in a child’s eyes. Pray with us and for us that we can all be deemed trustworthy in our kids eyes.   I love my job.
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