Monday, July 7, 2014

A Heart of Flesh

"And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart." Ezekiel 36:26




George had a tough week at Creation.  Any time we are out of our routine and experiencing anything for the first time, he is scared and nervous.  Unfortunately, that fear comes across as anger.  He appears hard...like stone.  George did everything he could to be away from the family;  he would change his shirt when we were all wearing the same one (for Ornaments4Orphans), or he would wander all over the vendor tent instead of staying with all of us, and he would play soccer with strangers for hours rather than sit with us during a concert.  

We were all prepared for this and understand when he gets this way.  We just let him be...and when he wants to be with the family, we are there for him.  This momma's heart gets hurt still when he acts that way, but at least the pain is getting less and less as time goes by.

We have discovered that George steps back whenever anything new comes along...he just can't handle it.  We can tell him over and over again where we are going and what we will be doing, but until he experiences it...and then comes back HOME...he does not believe us nor trust us.  Again, this is understandable because of his story.  Why should he trust us when his mother lied to him when she took him to the orphanage?

One particular night of Creation found George up front watching one of his favorite bands, The Newsboys.  Eleanor was with him, but told us that he kept an arm's length distance and acted like he didn't know her most of the night.  Great brother, huh?  These are just parts of George's personality that we all have had to learn to live with.  There was this big drum solo and George went crazy - screaming with excitement.  Apparently, that gained quite a bit of unwanted attention toward George..and Eleanor.  After the show, three young men approached Eleanor and asked her about George.  She answered that George was her brother.  Next obvious question, "Was he adopted?"  

That led to a conversation about how one of the young men had aged out of the foster care system and how he recognized a lot of fear and anger in George because he was the same way.  He asked if he could pray over George.

And so they did.

Three strangers...yet brothers...bowed their heads and prayed to a God who hears.  One prayed.  One spoke in tongues.  One was quiet.  They prayed to a loving God for healing...and that George would KNOW he has a family who loves him and deeply cares for him.  He prayed that George's heart of stone would turn into a heart of flesh.  

After the prayer was over the quiet one told Eleanor that he saw something while he was praying.  He told Eleanor he saw George back in Ethiopia as an adult, preaching to a full soccer stadium.  

Eleanor came back to the campsite wanting to talk through all of this.  She has Joe's skeptical nature and wasn't sure what to make of the whole night.  I took it in and thought about these things.

I know without a doubt that there is a major spiritual battle for George's heart.  He suffers more than any of my other children in choosing "the right" thing to do.  He tells us that he hears voices telling him to do bad things and that he has to fight those voices out of his head.  And, he admits, sometimes he listens to the voice.  I know God had given me the promise of George being a deeply rooted tree of blessing...some day....but I also know that the enemy would like to render George completely ineffective.  There is a battle...I can almost see it...every day above and around his body.  So, in my nature that wants to trust in this vision by a fellow believer who was praying over George, I take some comfort that God is at work in George's heart.

And I realized that I have a new, specific prayer for George.  I am praying daily...if not hourly now..that God would turn that heart of stone, the stubborn, hard, rejecting heart into a heart of flesh, a heart that feels and loves and has peace.

Two days after we returned home from Creation, George had a melt down.  He did something he has been told repeatedly not to do.  For that reason, he had to have a consequence for that behavior.  On that day, it meant not attending the $1 movie with the rest of the kids.  Eleanor took the rest off the movies and George stayed home with me.  He was raging angry.  Yelling, throwing things, slamming doors...all of which I have learned to respond with a gentle, "We can talk about this when you settle down."  (Which, seems to make him more angry that I won't FIGHT with him anymore). 

He settled in about 30 minutes (after trying to run away - he never gets far, like not even out the front door).  He asked, "Can I come ask for forgiveness?"

"Of course."  I replied.

George then went straight into an apology and specifically listed the things he needed forgiveness for - but before I could even answer, he said, "I am so angry at you, in fact I have hated you for the last 5 years because I thought you killed my mom!  I know you didn't kill my mom, but I think you did..sometimes. "  Tears streamed down his face.

Wow!  What a huge break through!  George had made his heart stone toward me by believing a lie that I killed his mother, whom he desperately loves and misses.  The only way George could prevent himself from being loved by me was to convince himself that I could not be trusted or loved because of what I did to his real mom.  

I was able to hold his hands, and look straight into his eyes and tell him that I did not hurt his mother.  

The tears kept coming as George asked, "Was God happy when my mom took me to the orphanage?  Was it God's plan that my dad died?  How did my mom get AIDS?  Why was God OK with my mom having AIDS?"

Another wow.  And lots of deep breaths before I  even began to answer these questions.  

"Buddy, I don't know why God let your dad die.  I don't know why your mom got AIDS.  I DO know that it broke God's heart.  And God does not desire for death or broken families or orphans!  These things happen only because sin is in the world.  But God never left you.  God never left you alone.  And when those horrible things were happening to your mom and dad, God was telling us, half way around the world on a beach in New Jersey that there was a little boy who needed a new mommy and daddy.  Your mom and dad loved you.  They did what they thought was best for you.  They wanted you to not be alone and to have a hope and a future.  I love your mom and dad...and I did not hurt them.  I promise."

George was quiet.  The tears stopped and he hugged me and told me he loved me.  

And before I knew it, he was off and playing.

It was a huge break through!  Have we had challenges with George since then?  Uh....hourly!  This is not an easy road...and I often tell people we are choosing to :PLOD forward every day.  Every day is hard...but we are seeing progress.  

George has another HUGE change ahead of him....going to middle school.  Going to Creation for one week was hard enough..imagine how scared George is of middle school.  THOSE are the issues that are coming out now.  Yesterday he screamed at us from under the covers of his bed about school, so I am preparing myself for a time of struggle this fall.  

But...I am praising God because he is TALKING about it!!!  He is not saying, "I am scared about middle school", instead he is angry at me for being in a special ed classroom and having to ride a bus - but we know what is really behind that anger...a very frightened, insecure boy...whose stony heart is beginning to turn to flesh.

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