December 8, 2021

Pastoral Nuggets: Jeremy – Part 1

There was a time in mine and Marianne’s life that, because of all the blessings God had blessed us with, we decide we wanted to “give back.”

So, we took the training and became Certified Foster Parents.

It was around 1986 when I received a call from a DFACS caseworker stating that they had a little boy for us to foster. The caseworker told us that he had a learning disability and anger issues.

In fact, he attended the Burwell Center in LaGrange, which is a treatment center for children with behavioral disorders. (Anger issues) We were also told that his name was Jeremy and that he was eight years old.

Before the caseworker placed him in our home, she began to go over with us all the do’s and don’ts associated with being foster parents.

She said, “Now you know you can’t use corporal punishment on him.” And I replied, “Then you know he can’t come into our home.”

Surprised, she asked, “Why?” I said, “Because all throughout this training you all have told us not to treat a foster child any differently than our biological children. In our home we use corporal punishment as ‘a’ form of discipline; it’s not the only form, but it is ‘a’ form, and I’m not going to upset my household.”

She rolled her eyes at me and said, “Just don’t let me know when you do it and don’t leave any identifying marks!” I said, “You got a deal!”

I remember the night the caseworker brought him into our home as if it was yesterday. He sat in a living room chair and his little legs came nowhere near touching the floor. He was clutching all his worldly possessions in a brown paper grocery bag that was rolled down to about one forth of its size.

We decided, that in an effort to make him feel welcome, we would take him to Movie Gallery and let him pick out a movie for the whole family to watch. He picked a movie about some Doberman Pincher dogs. While driving there I told him that he needed to decide what he would call Marianne and me. I told him he could call us Mr. Aaron and Miss Marianne, Mr. & Mrs. McCollough, momma and daddy, or any other name he wanted.

However, out of respect to us, he couldn’t call us by our first names. We were walking across the parking lot headed into Movie Gallery when he said, “I think I’ll call you momma and daddy.”

As Jeremy began to settle in, Marianne started working on his head and I started working on his bottom. In the process, an amazing thing happened. He went from making straight F’s on his report cards to consistently being on the Principal’s List for making all A’s & B’s. Furthermore, he was dismissed from the Burwell Center for Behavioral Disorders.

Now, I’m nowhere near through telling you about Jeremy. You’ll have to read next week’s column for the rest of his story. However, there are some Spiritual takeaway’s I want you to glean from this week’s column.

First, there are times in all our lives when our focus needs to shift from receiving to giving back! (We’re never more like Jesus than when we give!)

Second, from time-to-time, we all find ourselves in situations where, due to no fault of our own, our world is turned upside down and we need somebody to step in an advocate for us.

Third, our attitude means everything. As Jeremy, sometimes we simply need to just embrace the new opportunities that our circumstances have afforded us.

Fourth, realize that instruction and discipline are two critical building blocks of life.

And finally, realize that regardless of our circumstances and the diagnosis and titles that somebody hangs upon us, our destiny is up to us. There is no diagnosis or title hung upon us that, with the help of God and others, we cannot rise above. It may not be easy, but we can rise above!

Again, please check back next week for the rest of the story!

Brother Aaron

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