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Uncovering the hurt by responding like Christ

A tightly wound spring.

Carlos was an angry young man. By age 9, multiple and massive losses and disruptions to his life had generated a backlog of unresolved tensions. When he arrived at CVE, he struggled to build trust with any caregiver because of the losses he had experienced. Over the years at CVE, he changed caregivers multiple times; each transition producing a heart of increasing anger towards change and loss in Carlos' life. His caregivers frequently became the target of these raging outbursts. Navigating any transition alongside Carlos was a tumultuous undertaking.

Now another major transition was on the horizon. One of his current caregivers would be stepping out of the house. For Carlos, all the compounded pain of his pent up emotion came bubbling up to the surface again. As the transition grew closer, he increasingly acted out in distracting, angry behavior. He could not face the pain. When the caregiver would ask him about the transition, he would physically run away, crying, “I can't do it!”

Looking beyond the fault to see the need

For the caregiver, this angry behavior naturally evoked deep feelings of disrespect, personal hurt, and frustration. The urge to respond in like manner was strong. However, by God’s grace and with assistance of CVE’s intentional training of staff, Carlos’ caregiver had learned to look for the heart behind Carlos’ behavior. Disruptive behavior is seen as a call for help from a kid who does not know how to voice his or her needs. Due to this trained mindset, Carlos’ caregiver fought past the natural inclination to “put the kid in his place”. In the past, this kind of reaction only produced prolonged anger in Carlos. Instead, he told Carlos that he would give him a few minutes to calm down and return to check on him, while assuring him of his love.

As Carlos calmed down, his caregiver also calmed down. In prayer, he yielded the disrespect and anger he felt because of Carlos’ response over to God. He asked the Lord to give Carlos the strength to confront what was going on in his heart and voice the pain he felt.

He returned to Carlos, asking if he was willing to talk. Carlos had calmed down, and, after some initial hesitancy, shared, “I am angry at God. He has taken my mom, my prior caregivers, and now you. Why does he do this?” After sharing this with the caregiver, Carlos fell into his arms in tears, a burden lifted. His caregiver joined in his tears, praising the Lord for uncovering the pain that had been underneath Carlos’ behavior for so long. The caregiver thanked God for giving him the patience and training to stick with Carlos when Carlos needed him the most. Carlos, now softened, and his caregiver together cried out to God for the grace to trust him in what seemed so hard.

Conformed into Jesus’ likeness

These encounters are painfully disruptive for staff at CVE. Times such as these evoke truths like Romans 8:28-29. God used Carlos to conform the caregiver more in to the image of Jesus. Even the angry rebellion and rage of Carlos became an instrument for good in the Lord’s hands. As Jesus has patiently and steadfastly stood by us in our most anger-filled, painful moments, Carlos’ caregiver was able, by the grace of God, to do the same for Carlos. These experiences are not unique to Mexican boys. Be encouraged, the Father is about the deepest good for his children. All circumstances, difficult or simple, serve that divine purpose.