June 2, 2017 by Abby and Alex Rodriguez
Packing and cleaning the house before we leave for a week and a half long trip to Springfield, Missouri.
I like to always avoid our guest bathroom for many reasons. I can never seem to get it clean enough, it always has a funky smell no matter what candle I put in there. There is a ceiling vent that makes a loud, confusing buzzing sound when the swamp cooler is running and the toilet has a weak flush (sorry Guest, it’s always going to require two flushes, no shame.) I just don’t like it.
And then there is the linen closet inside said guest bathroom. It’s relatively organized because I’m fussy like that. Dog and beach towels go on the top, top shelf. Nice guest towels, baby washcloths, and hand towels are on the next shelf. Next holds the Frozen bath bubbles, Crayola bath crayons and color drops, an eclectic assortment of bath toys, baby shampoo, soap and the random lice treatment. Our impressive collection of diapers and wipes sit next to R’s laundry basket on the floor along with the potty seat that I wish was used a lot more than it was. It’s a huge closet.
I don’t have many reasons to go in the linen closet when we don’t have kiddos around, but today, in my deep cleaning mode, I peeked inside.
There, in R’s little white laundry basket, was the last two outfits and pajamas I ever saw her in. I had forgotten about them. Well, no, I knew they were there but every time I stumbled upon them, I closed the door and wept.
I pulled them out today. Cheese stain on the shirt she wore to the Night Market the day before she went home. PJs still smelled like her calming Burt’s Bees baby lotion and lavender essential oil. Little socks still filthy and stinky.
I haven’t seen or heard of R since the day we dropped her off. Her mother struggles with mental illness and we’ve had to keep our distance due to threats on my life if we ever tried to come close.
I miss her every day. I miss the way each morning, at 6 am, when I opened her door she would proclaim with her hands in the air, “I’m awake!” In which I would groan, “Clearly.” Or sometimes her laundry basket wouldn’t be on the floor of the linen closet because it was housing clean clothes that I hadn’t put away yet and she would proudly open the door and say as if it were a game, “No basket!” Or her newest phrase weeks before she went home was, “I can’t like it.” when she didn’t want to do something or eat something new off of her plate.
I could talk about her to anyone who will listen endlessly. And I could, but I do not. Hear me right, we have the most incredible people surrounding us and they all would give their arm to sit and hear us talk about “our” kids but the reason, I think at least, Foster Care can be so lonely is because of guilt. We have brought people on a journey they never asked to be a part of and subjecting them to this pain just doesn’t seem fair. So we have each other and that’s honestly been enough.
But today, I bring you in. I hope that’s okay. It feels like the right thing to do.
I’ve been reading a highly commended book entitled Called and Committed: World Changing Discipleship by David Watson and when speaking of community he writes this:
“John Powell expresses the fears we have of being open with one another in these words: ‘I am afraid to tell you who I am, because, if I tell you who I am, you may not like who I am, and it’s all that I have.” We find it safer to maintain an image, to put on a mask, to hide our real selves. This explains why many churches never demonstrate the quality of community life that Jesus wants us to experience, and why there are so few (if any) real disciples. Keith Miller describes the predicament like this: ‘Our churches are filled with people who outwardly look contented and at peace but inwardly are crying out for someone to love them… just as they are — confused, frustrated, often frightened, guilty, and often unable to communicate even within their own families. But the other people in the church look so happy and contented that one seldom has the courage to admit his own deep needs before such a self-sufficient group as the average church meeting appears to be.”
Our good friend and mentor always says as a church we function under the principle “If you don’t take off your mask, I won’t take off mine.” This is not true fellowhip. We can and should share our gifts, blessings and achievements but it must be balanced by meeting on the ground level of our weaknesses. That is when the Lord knits our hearts together.
So let me take off my mask, I’m sorry, and I invite you to start taking off yours.
Today is very hard.
Anyone have some good stain fighting tips?