Last week, a close friend asked if I would miss Goldilocks when she returned home to her mother. My response was, “Ehh.” This “Ehh” is the same answer I always give whenever I am asked if I will be sad when a child leaves our home to be returned to their family. But please don’t get me wrong. I don’t say “Ehh” because I want my quiet mornings back. I don’t say “Ehh” because I’m tired of eating pretend sandwiches. I don’t say “Ehh” because I want to see an empty clothes hamper again. Or get back to my regular schedule. I say “Ehhh” because I have a wall built.
I constructed this wall in November 2012 when we welcomed our first child through the Safe Families for Children Program. This fortress doesn’t keep me from providing the love, care, and nurturing they need. It doesn’t stop me from giving lots of hugs, kisses, and smiles. It doesn’t keep me from coloring pictures, playing hide-n-go seek, or reading bedtime stories. But what this wall does is keep me from being too emotionally attached to their tiny fingers, sweet giggles, and lovable hugs. Goldilocks is the 7th child we have been able to love and care for through this program, and despite having her for 94 days, the fortress around my heart has stayed perfectly intact…that is until a few nights ago.
A few nights ago, the strong wall that has withstood all of the cute stories, funny looks, and Eskimo kisses, came crashing down. After our bedtime prayer, Daniel lovingly kissed her forehead and then walked out of the room, but I stayed for just a ‘sec.’ With my eyes closed, I could hear her whispering to her stuffed turtle and singing her ABC’s. It was adorable, and I couldn’t help but smile; but after about three minutes of Ms.Chatterbox chatting away, I heard her get quiet, and I felt her begin to shift as if getting comfier in her sheets. With my eyes still closed, I could feel her warm breath near my face, and I heard her sigh and then whisper, “Wisha? Wisha?”
Before I could open my eyes, I felt her soft hand stroke the side of my face as she moved my hair and quietly spoke the words, “Me love you.” At that moment, my wall came down. I tried to stop it, but I couldn’t. I tried to hurry out of bed, but my body was frozen. Within seconds and without a moment’s notice, my heart became exposed, and I was vulnerable. I laid there for almost five minutes with tears pouring down my face, I tried to reconstruct my wall, but it was too late.
It’s been several days since she bulldozed my wall. Her giggles now penetrate me. Her smile now turns me into mush. When she gallops down the hallway, makes random animal sounds when she is alone in her room, or talks on her pretend phone, I can’t help but smile and get teary-eyed all at the same time.
Without my wall, it’s hard for me to put the toys away in her room, knowing that someday soon, I won’t be hunting down the other Barbie shoe, rearranging the books on the shelf, or organizing the blocks in the baskets.
Without my wall, I walk by her play kitchen, and the sounds of pots and pans clanging together in the morning as she makes eggs are now music to my ears. I can’t even take out the trash without zoning in on the little red wagon and not think about how I will one day not hear her chatting with me as we explore the neighborhood and creeks together.
A week ago, if you were to ask me how I felt about Goldilocks returning home, my response would have been, “Ehh.” But today, if you ask me the same question, I won’t respond. How can you when there is a large knot forming in your throat as you try to hold back the tears? Or a sick feeling that penetrates the deepest part of your core?
Six children have come and gone, but it was her, the seventh, who brought down my wall.
Do I regret her tearing down my wall? Not a bit. I learned that without my wall, I could love her on a deeper level. I can be more playful and have more patience to look past the small annoyances that come with raising a three-year-old. Not having my wall enables me to hug her a little tighter and rock her a little longer. The only regret I have is not letting her bulldoze my wall earlier. I thought my wall was protecting me from getting hurt, but it was only keeping me from not just giving her more of my love but also experiencing all the love and joy she had to give me.
I believe that just like I built a wall around my heart to keep Goldilocks out, people have also built walls around their hearts, dreams, and even their perfectly laid out plans to keep God out. They fear He will come in and mess it up or destroy them altogether. They fear without a wall of protection, their hearts will become exposed and vulnerable to a deeper heartache and more disappointment, and their dreams and plans in life will become hijacked…bulldozed.
But just like I thought my wall was protecting me from being hurt by her, it was actually hindering me from experiencing life to the fullest. And friend, the same is true with our God. We think the wall we have built is protecting us, but it is actually holding us back. But the thing is this when we finally let go, when we finally open up and when we finally go ahead and tear down our walls, He can graciously come in and overflow our hearts with hope, as He lovingly directs our plans for Him to fulfill our dreams supernaturally. God wants to tear down some walls today. And you know what, friend? It’s okay to let Him.
Here are a couple of our most recent conversations with Goldilocks:
Dan (while helping her put on her PJ’s): Go get your socks and come back.
Goldilocks returns to the bathroom.
Dan: Where are your socks?
Goldilocks: she looks around confused and says, They left me!
As it turns out, she dropped them on her way back. Precious!
Dan: Do you want some beef jerky?
Goldilocks: Sure! (chews for a bit) This tastes like candy!
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