We walked into daycare yesterday morning unexpected, and he asked "am I going"? I answered yes. He hung his head -he knew the plan.
The plan his Daddy & I would never had agreed to a year ago- but hindsight is 20/20 and we've got much to look back on.
The plan- not because he's in trouble, or bad. The plan, that moved forward even when he promises not to call me a moron, throw a lamp or be mean to his brother again. Promises easily spoken but not yet kept.
The plan- that in our hearts we believe is right but the believing breaks it.
I hang up the phone and get my game face on to pack his things. The last week or so has been filled with hurry up and wait, so the call was expected but not until later this week. Packing this time is different from the hospitalizations- he's allowed to have his favorite toys. I struggle to find favorites in his room. He's allowed to have jackets and sweats with strings. He gets to wear his shoes. His robe with the belt is not a problem. I pack his journal with the notes about how angry he is with us, and his football cards. His alarm clock and the CD of his Daddy's songs. His orange toothbrush and his "In my Heart" book that he loves.
The plan is not a quick hospitalization, but a 90 day (or more) residential stay. And we are packing underwear and wrestlers while we can hardly believe that we are so desperate for a Fresh Start that we're taking our son to another city and leaving him with strangers- praying they can do for him what we can't.
He passes the 3+ hour ride playing his game- he knows it will be the last chance he'll have for a while. Every so often he whispers "Mommy, I don't want to go" and I can only reply that I know.
In the last few days, we've done the high-fives and celebrated that he will be the very best ever medicine taker because he is so good at it. And we've talked about his new room and the cool field trips they'll take. And the XBox that makes his little brother jealous to go with him.
But there is much we haven't said out loud, but we know.
I want to grab him and hold him close and kiss him and sing lullabies over him but I know that will be more than he can handle so I let him escape into trying to get to the next level of Star Wars. And I watch his sweet face for miles and he doesn't know it- like he doesn't know the nights I sneak back into his room after his storm and kiss that face, and cry and beg God for change. And wonder why the God of the Universe doesn't just fix this.
And they tell him to pretends he's a rock star as he signs his autograph and he's included in the admission process because he knows.
And we leave our son in a house with strangers that we must trust to help him and not hurt him. And we leave him there with the same rules posted that we have at home, similar schedules and the same chicken nuggets on the stove. And we wonder if it will really make a difference and it takes everything in us to hug him goodbye and walk out the front door and leave him.
But we do.
Because there is a plan is to give him and our family a Fresh Start. The plan is to identify primary diagnoses instead of them all competing against another that will help us help him.
The plan is for him to learn to control his actions regardless of his feelings.
The plan, is that he will learn to accept love---from the parents who seem to have abandoned him.
Loving him looks different than I expected it to- and I'm sure there are some who will say "I would never" leave my child- and I expect those have never been privileged to love differently than they expected.
It's a crazy plan that takes a scared nine year old who doesn't believe he is worthy of love and fears being abandoned a second time and puts him in a house with strangers more than three hours away from his family. It's a crazy plan that's purpose is to teach respect and kindness in a house that isn't his own.
It's a crazy plan where love seems to turn it's back on the one who is loved.
But I think of another crazy plan- one where my God Daddy asked his own Son to be born flesh, grow up and then die- willingly for all the ugly and sin of others (John 3:16). He turned His back on the one he loved so that He could love all. God's crazy plan that helps me love my son, because He first loved me.
We're praying that more than anything, God will reveal His love to Elijah in a new and unmistakable way- so he will truly understand what it means to be adopted and loved, not just by this mean 'ole Momma and Daddy but by his God Daddy.
Then, and only then will he be able to lose his own shame and experience real love.
And we're asking for partners. Partners who will commit to take one day between now and October 22 to pray for Elijah. If you'll send me the date, I'll send you some specific prayer needs and his address so you can send him a note and let him know he is prayed for and loved.
Knowing the plan is needed is kind of like swallowing nasty medicine to cure an infection- it may bring healing but it's sure hard to get it down.
Our family has been on heightened alert for so long, it's going to take some time for us to de-stress and learn how to do life without him home.
Our hope is in the Lord.... happy Tuesday y'all!