By Eugenie Adamah-Tassah
A few days ago I was getting ready for work. I got my children fed and ready to go to school and was drinking my hibiscus tea before heading to the car. While I was half-way through my cup of tea, I spilled the rest on my white shirt. Frustrated by my error, and without enough time to clean it, I simply placed the shirt next to my kitchen sink to clean it later.
Later I went and bought some dish soap because one of my friends had told me that it was powerful in removing fruit-related stains on clothes. The instruction my friend gave me was to pour the soap on the stained area, and then boil some water to pour over it.
Off I went onto my stain removing adventure. I boiled the water and upon boiling the water, I realized I needed a cup of tea. Why not fill a thermos? So I forgot the reason I was boiling the water. I poured it into the thermos and added some hibiscus leaves to it. After drinking one cup of tea, I remembered why my shirt was soaked in soap. So I got up, took the thermos and poured it onto the shirt.
“Oh no!” The thermos had hibiscus in it, not hot water!
Now instead of a small stain, my entire shirt was red. I was very disappointed, and thought I would simply have to toss it in the garbage. Suddenly a thought came to my mind: if I was going to clean this stain with hot water and soap, why not soak the entire shirt in soap? So I did. I covered the shirt with soap and then boiled some more water and poured it onto the shirt. My shirt came out amazingly spotless!
This experience reminded me of errors we make in our lives and at times how we beat ourselves up because we think there would be no way out of this situation. We don’t realize how our actions are affecting the children around us, and by the time we learn, it feels like it is too late. As we just learned in the Trauma Competent Caregiver Training this January, the brain can always be rewired and can heal. We are always learning and there is never a time when it is too late.
It also reminded me of Loom’s Celebrating Children Workshop (CCW), which helps us to learn biblical principles for caring for children in our lives in general, but vulnerable children in particular. I am currently working on sharing the CCW with the African community in Portland. I have realized that many of the errors parents or caregivers make do not come from an intentional desire to hurt children. The CCW is a great program to offer families and caregivers the opportunity to catch up and to do things right.
Understanding the context of the child and also understanding my limitations to meet the child’s needs without the assistance of Jesus Christ is key to moving me toward the accomplishment of God’s will in the lives of the children I encounter in my life. The key principle I have learned to apply in every situation is “Love.” When I am led by love, my actions, my intentions, my care for each child has an impact that will leave a lasting impact on the child’s life.
The unintentional mistakes that I committed in the lives of my children or other children I encountered in my life are numerous. They include my lack of ability to listen to the child, to value their story, to look beyond their behavior and seek to understand what causes them to behave in certain manners. The CCW has taught me to treat my own children with much more care and to share my experience with other adults so they can avoid causing the same pain to children.
Allowing myself to think creatively to find a solution for my white-stained shirt has led me to think about the children in my life and mistakes I made that have caused pain in their lives. Like my reaction to spilling the hibiscus juice, I tend to beat myself up and then discouragement takes place. What a child needs from me is a healthy response, not an impulsive reaction. Now I am learning to do it the right way and to do it in a godly manner. I am learning that it is never too late.
Caring for a child in a holistic manner is what I am called to do as a parent and a caregiver. This means to care in a manner that empowers the child to grow physically, emotionally, and spiritually. By interacting with a child in ways that makes them feel safe, I allow them to feel loved and to feel empowered to participate in their own wellbeing.
I pray that none of the gifts the Lord has gifted me will be wasted, but that any time I encounter a child, that child will feel loved and valued. I pray that the Lord will help me live out these new principles in ways that teach people around me about God and his love for us.