May 17, 2021

Pastoral Nuggets: Jeremy – Part 2

Jeremy was originally in our home for two years.

At age ten, DFACS placed him back into his home – without correcting the problem.

Quite naturally, this infuriated Marianne and me. Therefore, Jeremy was the only foster child we ever kept.  However, Jeremy’s story doesn’t end there. Read on …

When Jeremy left, I told him to call me if he ever needed to come home. That call came when he was fourteen. The uncorrected problem had arisen again.

When he explained the situation to me and asked if he could come back home, I told him that he could. However, I also told him that this time we wouldn’t go through DFACS. Custody of him would be signed over to us.  And that’s exactly what happened.

Before Jeremy came home, I explained to him that the same house rules that were in effect four years earlier, were still in place. I asked him if he was willing to abide by them. He said he was.

However, I knew it wouldn’t be long before Marianne and I would have to reinforce them. I came home one day and Marianne told me about some conflict between Jeremy and her. I told him to go into my bedroom and wait on me. I had already determined that I was going to give him two or three licks with a folded belt. (It makes more noise than it causes pain!)

Jeremy has always been big for his age. So, when I gave him the second lick, he tensed and balled-up his fist. I thought to myself, “Well! This is about to get interesting!” I stepped-up into his face and got nose-to-nose with him.

I said, “I see what you’re doing! Son, you’ve got a decision to make. Right now, you’re taking a little boy’s whupping. But if you make the mistake of swinging at me, God help you, you’re gonna take a man’s whupping. So, decide right now! What it’s gonna be?” Thank God he leaned back over!  He would have killed me! (Lol!)

I could tell you Jeremy stories all day long and still not get all of them told. I could tell you stories that would make you laugh, make you cry, make you sad, and make you proud. But the point of this column today isn’t to tell Jeremy stories. The point is to tell the story of Jeremy. It’s the story of a kid who was behind the proverbial eight ball. Everything that could go wrong in his young life – had gone wrong. The deck was stacked against him. But he refused to allow those adverse circumstances to dictate his destiny.

Time and time again he rose above every obstacle and adversity life threw at him. And in the process, he became a part of our family and a well-adjusted young man!

As I write this column, he’s forty-years-old, married, the father of two, and the grandfather of one. He always wanted to be a fireman. Guess what! He’s a lieutenant in charge of his own fire station. He’s also a Paramedic. (Not an EMT but a Paramedic!)

I always told Jeremy that his momma and I would adopt him anytime he wanted, but the decision was his. Marianne and I were on vacation when he called me and told me that he and his wife, Missy, who was pregnant, wanted to take us to supper when we got back. He said he had something to show me. When we finished eating, he said, “Dad, I had to go to court while you were gone.” (I though the worst!) He slid some legal paperwork across the table for me to see. Unbeknownst to us, he had legally changed his last name to McCollough. The tears flowed!

The Spiritual takeaways from today’s column are almost too numerous to name!

But here’s a few: Despite our beginning, we alone decide our outcome. If we can dream it, we can achieve it.  Stumbling blocks serve as good stepping stones. Those the world has discarded are wanted and welcomed by somebody. And those who say that you can’t love a child who is not your biological child – have never had a child choose to take your last name – because years earlier you chose to take him! Yep! Warts and all – he’s still ours and we’re still his momma and daddy.

Brother Aaron

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