The tears began to flow when I told the boy he didn’t have to be the caregiver anymore. The relief on his face was obvious as the weight was lifted off his shoulders. The weight was too much for a nine-year old to carry. And as he realized it wasn’t his to carry any longer, his countenance changed. It was as if a little boy was re-created. As if the burden of a father was removed and the joy of a boy returned.
He was brought to my office, not because of good behavior. He was brought because his first days here at James Project of Latin America were of turmoil. He had spent the previous days fighting with the other boys in his home. In the eyes of the other boys he was quick to lash out and quick to throw a punch. In the eyes of his house-parents he was quick to disobey and quick to cause problems. But in his eyes he was only defending his little brother.
He was used to defending his siblings, for protecting them, and fighting for them. It was all he knew. He was the oldest brother. It was his job to protect them. He has the heart of a father, and a fighter. With no adult around to defend, he defended with his fists. And now that there are parents to answer to, he doesn’t know how. With adults now in his life to care for him and his siblings, he doesn’t know his role. And he doesn’t yet trust.
He is here with four of his siblings. Three sisters, one brother. That’s a lot of defending to do. There’s a lot of protecting that needs to be done. And his heart has to ache for the ones that didn’t come. As we chatted about his role as brother, he revealed that there are more siblings still out there. One was given away, but he didn’t know to whom she was given or where she was. Yet another was living with a family member. As he discussed this you could see the pain in him. He is ashamed that he couldn’t defend and protect them too. That somehow he had let them down.
But as the tears flowed, the fear fled. He still isn’t completely confident in his new caregivers, but I believe he understands his new role. Brother, not dad. Boy, not man. He was told the responsibility was not his alone to carry. That he was brave, but now he didn’t have to fight. That he could trust and let his shoulders relax. Please pray the boy becomes a boy. Please pray that he believes in us and allows us to carry the load that he’s carried in his young life. But more than that, please pray that he let’s go and let’s God. Pray he allows Jesus to take over. Because His yoke is easy and His burden is light.