Monday, January 10, 2011

Playing the "What If" or "If Only" Game

Don't know about you, but I get caught up in the "What if" or "If only" game. I think this is true of anyone who has had to have a child leave their home whether for a short time, for years or permanently.

For me, it goes like this:
"What if I had understood orphanage issues better?"
"What if I'd known then what I know now about parenting?"
"What if I'd done all the bonding stuff that they say to do now?"
"What if I'd been better at separating the behaviors from the child?"
"What if I hadn't taken things so personally and gotten so angry?"
"What if I'd separated the two children who were feeding on each other's issues?"

and on the list goes.

Jeff is home, but we lost his childhood. Even the years he was with us were lost, because we were so caught up in the stealing, lying, manipulation and the games that involved other people thinking they knew what was what when they were clueless. I got to the point I couldn't see beyond the behaviors. And my girls were threatened by his friends. I didn't feel I could parent Jeff any longer. He needed a new start with someone who hadn't been through it all.

We thought it would be a year or two and he could come home and have a fresh start, but they continually said that Jeff wasn't at the point where he could make good decisions for himself. I hope he is now because he is graduated and is home. But it was only a few months ago that he had some problems there.

Now I'm getting to know him as an almost-adult rather than child. He is doing fine, but I don't know his heart. That has not changed. We talk about the trivial and the outward and not the heart. I don't know how real his faith is. He can quote you all the right verses and give you the right answers. But is it heart deep? Don't know. Not sure that I ever will. He doesn't talk about the real things. I hope his faith stays with him as he goes out into life.

Jeff is trying to enlist in the army. Easier said than done. We finally got all the papers rounded up, and he was supposed to take the ASVAB Friday, but the Navy guys got there first, and there was no room for the army guys. Jeff says the next test is the 21st--almost two weeks away. We won't even know if the army thing is going to happen until he tests.

In the meantime he is just hanging out and spending a lot of time on his new lap top. And I am trying to figure out who he is.

Without knowing how long he will be here, it's hard to make plans. He has been going to church and is in the senior class. He seems to be fitting in fine there. A few of the kids remember him from before he left.

The "what if" and "if only" games extend to another child and also other areas of my life. I try not to look back but to make the best decisions day-by-day. But it's hard. And one child is so resistant. But we push on because one day it will all click for him. He has to realize that his worth is not based on how many people he can make laugh or how many girls say he's "hot." His worth comes from being created by God, and God having created a unique plan for his life. We celebrate the gifts God gave him.

But yet, I wish I could go back and do it all over.

I have a quote on the fridge that says, "Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start now and make a brand new ending." Don't know who said that. But it's kind of the same thing the Apostle Paul said, "I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us." (Philippians 3)

So, do you ever play the "what if" or "if only game?" What does it look like for you?

Jeff all grown up.

At a church football activity Saturday.


Anonymous said...

Wow. What a great post. Although I am not in your shoes, I understand your feelings.

I pray Jeff finds his way.

megan said...

Oh yeah, everyone plays the what if game! What if I hadn't skipped work and gone to see that "hot" guy at the Y? (I wouldn't have three great kids). What if I had said enough and not given that one final last chance? (Maybe my mom would still be here). Doesn't do any good to play it, the past is done, all you can do is learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward.

"Are These Kids All Yours?" said...

Totally play that game!!!!!! ALL THE TIME!

Some of our children even as young as they are have had some issues....I often think if I would have known more when they first came to us 5 years ago- would it be different? NOT the same I know in a way...but yes I play it A LOT!!!

Will be praying!!!!

Felicia said...

Sometimes I do. We just need to learn from our mistakes and move forward. I think that you are doing a great job with the challenges you have been given.