By Kelli Reep

Methodist Family Health

Can you imagine what your life would be like if your mother was addicted to drugs, your father was abusive to you before leaving your family altogether, and you were never certain if you would eat that day or the next?

Can you imagine how you would behave?

While not all the children and teenagers in our continuum of care at Methodist Family Health come from situations like this, many do, and all have some sort of a traumatic experience in their lives. Abuse, abandonment, neglect or a combination of these coupled with psychiatric, behavioral, emotional or spiritual issues produce a child who desperately needs someone to show her or him the way to a stable life.

It can be overwhelming to think about teaching and guiding children who have experienced so much crisis in their lives. How can you understand where a child has been or why she or he acts out in a way that’s harmful when you, as an adult, haven’t experienced trauma yourself? To be sure, it takes a lot of grit and determination, but to reach anyone – child, adolescent, adult or senior – on her or his level is to start with love.

Love is what everyone seeks, and from love stems everything else: acceptance, confidence, value, peace. When you don’t trust you are lovable just as you are, everything about you changes. Behavior, then, becomes our soul’s way of screaming for help.

At Methodist Family Health, we utilize a complete continuum of care to address both positive and negative behaviors so the children and families in our care understand they are loved. From this, our children and families learn how to develop healthy and positive social, relational and interpersonal skills. Whether it’s talking with a therapist one-on-one or participating in group counseling, creating an art project to communicate what cannot be said, building trust in the adult caregivers who provide three meals a day, every day, in a secure and stable home, or reading a new Bible provided by an Arkansas United Methodist, we at Methodist Family Health use every resource available to make the children in our care know they are loved – by us, by their communities and by you, Arkansas’s United Methodists.

Recently, we finished our Christmas appeal, Share the Light, in which we asked Arkansans to contribute funds to Methodist Family Health to support our work. It can seem like contributing money or toys or prayer may not help much with a child who is hurting so badly as to think of killing her or himself. It also can seem like the amount of care to help a teenager who is so angry and hurt is insurmountable. But the truth is it takes one person providing one kindness to sow seeds of hope. How powerful it is to know someone thinks enough of you to keep you in prayer! How compelling it is to know someone thought enough of you as a person to make sure you receive the care and necessities to get better. How awesome it is to know you are loved by people you have never or will ever meet who want the best for you. It’s the fruit of your spirit that sows the tender shoots of the fruit of others. For this, and so much more, we at Methodist Family Health are grateful to you.