You turned eight years old today. You had little idea what it meant, and you didn’t know what you wanted for cake or presents. You knew you got extra hugs and smiles today.
You came to us full of fear and hurts and hunger and unknowns. I would lean in, you would lean away. You were wary, untrusting, hesitant.
You were afraid of stairs, of playdoh, of not being fed. You panicked at the smell of food that was not right in front of you. You were afraid of us, especially of me.
You walked with a lurch and flapped your arms when you were excited. You still flap a little, but so much less. You would eat orange peels, apple cores, and watermelon rinds. Crumbs on the floor and food on someone else’s plate was fair game if you got to it before we did. You ate a few crayons. You only tried eating an eraser once.
You can wait for food now. You know that there’s a process to making it that you had never seen before. You know it will come to you as soon as it’s ready.
You play now. You love to play with buttons and cars, and you look at books quietly on the couch every day. You like…cookbooks.
Now you can run. You dress yourself, you make your bed, you fold clothes, and you even refuse food to push us away sometimes…but at least that means that you obviously aren’t afraid of us starving you anymore.
You used to be hot and cold, swinging from one extreme to the other in your affection and rejection of us. You would cling aggressively one day, and shove us away the next. Now you are…well, definitely not lukewarm. You’ve leveled out to warm and cool. It’s progress, and we’ll take it.
You are learning to speak. You are learning to give and maintain eye contact to those who love you. You are learning letters, colors, shapes, and you can count to eight. You know how much four is. You know that you were seven yesterday, and that you are now eight. Whatever that means.
But you don’t know that we prayed for you when you were a toddler. I’m so sorry it took us so long to find you. You don’t know that we saw you, found you, and chose you when you were five. That we waited and prayed and cried for you until we got to meet you when you were six, and that we brought you home months later when you were pushing seven.
You don’t know very much about the years before that. We don’t, either.
We have a few pictures of you as a toddler, but they are undated. We can only guess how old you were in them. We have paperwork that mentions inaccurate diagnoses that are both more and less severe than the truth of what you are healing through.
You almost never flinch anymore when I reach toward you. In the middle of the night, when you’re asleep and I tuck you in one more time before I go to bed, your arm doesn’t fly up in fear anymore to cover your face and head. I’m so sorry you ever had to do that, and that you ever felt like you had to do that here.
You are healing. You are growing and learning and we are seeing more and more of the real you, and you shine.
You are brave. You are strong. You are gentle and curious and tender and joyful.
You are growing in wisdom and stature, just as the One who redeemed you did when He was young.
You have a mighty future. We are so honored to be in it.
With a love that grows and prays for your mountains to move,