Appearing & Disappearing Hope, Pt 1

Faith Children’s Home, June 6, 1987

It is hard to imagine how the light can be gone from the eyes of a 14- year old kid, but I am here to tell you, I don’t remember ever having light in my eyes, but on this day, everything I’d hoped for was gone.

My hopes of a world where I would have a family were gone; or so it seemed. Faith Children’s Home was a home that housed 18 boys and 18 girls. As much as they tried to not make it an institution, it had to be sometimes. We were not allowed to open the refrigerator and grab food or drink-we had to wait for the time when everyone ate and drank. We slept with 5 other girls in the same room. If you were lucky (and I was) you only had to share a bathroom with those 5 girls and not an additional 6 younger girls. These were things that made me cry myself to sleep in those early days.

I was a foster kid before finally ending up at the children’s home. I was very fortunate and only had one foster home; and they were good people. But, it did not matter how good they were, they were not equipped to meet the needs of a throw away kid. When a parent abandons their child like mine did, there is a special kind of brokenness that serves as a dark cloud, filled with unpredictable precipitation, over that life forever. My foster parents did the best they could, but in the end, the children’s home was a good decision for me. But for 18 months, I got a taste of what a mom and dad felt like, I had my own bed (a first) and understood what a normal meal schedule was like. I was not required to work for my basic needs, I was allowed to be a kid. I went to slumber parties, I “played” sports, I had a first boyfriend complete with the first broken heart– but with a mom to help me through it.

So, the day I was dropped off at the children’s home was the death of all of that; and that would eventually be ok, but those early days, I truly saw no hope for a normal life. I was to remain at the children’s home for 1,090 days, also known as my 18th birthday. That was the only future I could see, in exactly 2 years and 6 months, I would leave this place, and enter a world that I was prepared to fight for the rest of my life, just as I had for the entirety of my life.

Then the day came when these people, one by one, chipped away at my shattered, ragamuffin heart. And suddenly, I could see past the days that remained before I became a legal adult and would age out of the system. I could see good things in my future. My visions of a better future were weaker than faith but just as strong as hope. I knew in my heart that God had better things for me. I believed that then and I believe that now, because He told us as much in the Bible, but more importantly with the price He paid so that I could envision a future filled with Hope.

As time would pass, this place became the fabric of my heart, and that heart was no longer shattered, and had left its ragamuffin status in healing dust. And when I graduated from high school, as the class valedictorian, my speech was all about Hope, and a future where God would complete what He started (Phil 1:6). I left the children’s home just shy of the 1,090 days, but I was to return after a few weeks with my mom, which is a whole other story.

I remained there well into college. I worked in the office, traveled with the kids while going to college on a full ride scholarship. The promise I spoke of in my speech seemingly was the truth, like for real, the truth! He was, in fact, continuing the good work He started in me, not the day I got a forever family, but the day He made me in His image. And when I earned my degree, I was fully aware that this was not something that EVER should have happened, nor was it in my visions of a future filled with hope for my life. I had low standards of God. I would have been good with breathing air. But on May 7, 1994, I graduated from Clearwater Christian College with a decent degree, and every reason to believe that my future was still filled with hope.

As it would turn out, it was not quite that simple. And my definition of hope was blown away to an unrecognizable heap of smothering rubble.

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