23 Oct Day 15
Brener: Risking it All
by: Corenne Smith
“I thank my God every time I remember you.” Philippians 1:3 NIV
We have three Brunos, but just one Brener. That’s why there’s that millisecond pause before I address him. But he catches it and a cloud comes over his face. It continues to happen. I have to stop and organize my thoughts before I say his name. It’s awful. Maybe that’s why when he speaks to me he mumbles. “What was that?” I ask. He looks disgusted. “Never mind,” he says, already walking away. It’s sort of became a game. An annoying game, but what can I do?
One Saturday night I looked Brener straight in the eye (so I didn’t have to call him by name), “Come help me make popcorn.” He obliged, riding his skateboard through the corridor to my house. No smile though. He was very serious the whole time. It takes a while to make popcorn for 60 people and transport it from my kitchen to the auditorium, where we were having movie night—even on a skateboard. Nothing important happened, no intimate conversations. We made popcorn. That was it.
Flash forward. We’re having a birthday party. There are slips of paper to write words of affirmation to each birthday boy. But I also got three cards that night—all from Brener. “I love you.” “You are like a mother to me.” “I like being with you.” Who knew? And it wasn’t just with me that he bonded. He is now in our Baptism class, and he accepted our invitation to participate in our accelerated learning course.
His name rolls off my tongue more comfortably these days, and I call his name a few times a day. When he looks I sometimes say, “Never mind,” smile and walk away. But we’ve connected.
Yesterday Brener was re-integrated with his father who was just released from prison. I was crushed; we had just bonded, and there was so much more I wanted to say and do with him. He said he was happy, but I saw the cloud of insecurity return to his face.
It’s even harder for our house parents. They give their hearts completely, hoping they won’t have to let go early. When they do, all they can do is pray their invested time will make a difference . . . and muster the strength to love the next child just as deeply.
Friends of mine in the US are fostering a two year-old, brought to them in the middle of the night from a murder scene. The victim—his baby brother. They want to adopt him, but the pregnant mother gets precedence. In my travels, I have met so many people who give their hearts to foster a child, and I have so much respect and admiration for them. Every child needs to be loved fiercely and completely. It’s so hard to let go, even when it’s best for the child. It’s even harder to risk having your heart broken again and again.
Today let’s pray for the Holy Spirit to help caretakers to make meaningful and deep connections with the children in their care, even knowing that there will be pain in one day letting go. And pray that they will be able to do this again and again, with each child that comes into their care.