Tuesday, May 1, 2012


They say that history repeats itself.

And I have long wondered why, though I have seen this theory become a reality more times than I care to count. Because my world, the foster care world, is much like a circle. The cycle really having no end. Individuals and families constantly struggling to rise up out of the dirt. People not believing they can be more than their pasts.

And while I have not lived in this world for long, I have seen enough to know that it is true. If we are not careful enough, if we do not fight hard enough both for and with them, history will repeat itself. The cycle will continue.

Because it has continued before my very eyes, and I have felt helpless to stop it. Out of the thirty-eight children we have served in the last six years, nine, so far, have gone on to have children of their own. And out of those nine, six have already had their children removed from them for one reason or another. For some of them, their children were removed for the very same reasons they were removed from their parents years before. History was repeated, and the cycle has continued.

And I have struggled to make sense of this in my mind.

As a dreamer, I am constantly looking forward. Pushing forward. To stay stuck, to remain the same, that is my worst nightmare. Never moving forward is not an option for me. I can {possibly} understand not moving forward if you have no other options. But to choose to let it happen, to allow history to repeat itself, this I have struggled to understand. So I began praying for wisdom and searching for answers. Searching for clues. Anything to open my eyes. Anything to help me understand.

Today my understanding came in the form of a science lesson. My oldest daughter is studying the plant world. Specifically, she is learning about roots. I had her read aloud to me as I sat across from her sipping my diet coke.

The roots hold the plant very tightly in the soil. When the seed begins to grow, it first pushes out a tiny root. The little root looks like a string.

It might not look very strong, but the tip of the root is very hard. The tip of the root pushes and twists its way through the soil as it grows.

As the plant grows taller, the roots reach deeper into the soil. The roots must grow longer to hold the bigger plant in place.

( A BEKA Grade 2 Enjoying God's World Science Reader)

And as realization set in, I had my daughter read those same words aloud to me once more. I closed my eyes and let them sink in. And I finally began to understand.


History repeats itself because of roots. One small, simple word with such profound meaning. Think of a flower. All we can see is the outside. We see the beauty, the color, the worth, the potential. We see the stem of the flower. Our eyes take in the petals. But what is holding the flower up? What pushes the flower to grow taller, stronger? The answer lies in the roots. Oftentimes we do not give roots much notice. We don't acknowledge the power they yeild. Because we can't always see them, it's easy to forget that they exist. But here, in my world, roots repeatedly make their presence known. I simply wasn't recognizing them for what they were.

Over and over again I have watched girls come to me as wilted flowers. I know they come from somewhere, but far too often I have not given much thought as to where. And without knowing it I have viewed myself as their stem. Their encourager, their cheerleader. Because you can see a stem, and you can see me. Pushing them to be more, pushing them to stretch, pushing them to grow. And if I was lucky, over time, I was privaledged to watch them bloom. It was a gift to see their true colors unfolding before my very eyes. It was a joy to watch them dream big dreams, if only for a moment. And my dream became that they would bloom for a lifetime. But the color never seemed to last. Eventually, my flowers would begin to wilt once more. They would begin to sag back down to the ground, back to that which they came from. And I never understood why. But now I do.

It was because of their roots.

The words my daughter read to me made sense. The roots hold the plant very tightly in the soil. It might not look very strong, but the tip of the root is very hard. As the plant grows taller, the roots reach deeper....
Roots are strong, and they are powerful, and they are real. They have the potential to either give and encourage life, or to take it away. But it is hard to stand strong. It is hard to bloom. It is hard to rise above, to tower above the soil. To tower above that which you know. And that is why so many of them return. That is why so many beautiful flowers return to their roots. Because roots have a stronghold in each of our lives, and if they are not life giving roots pushing and encouraging growth, then it is simply much easier to allow your roots to drag you back down once again. And that is why the cycle continues.

That is why history repeats itself.

I found no answers today. Only a bit of understanding. I realized that those of us in the foster care world need to pay more attention to roots. To where the child has come from. It is not enough to just be their stems, to only be their cheerleaders encouraging them from this point forward. It is not enough to only try and 'fix' what we can see. If we don't address their roots, the child might bloom for a season, but the beauty will never last. I have no doubt that digging in the dirt will be messy. And digging up roots is sure to be bone weary work. But once the roots are exposed?

Perhaps then we can replant and the flowers that bloom just might last for a lifetime.

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