Daily I have conversations with this same child about his identity. His self confidence is smaller than most of the seeds in his seed packets. He doesn't believe that he is handsome or smart or funny or good at school or able to behave well. Before he asks me for something, he tells me the negative response he anticipates me to respond with. He often refuses photos to be taken of him because he feels ugly. He has a huge complex about how short he is - his growth has been stunted due to stress in his little body from everything that life has thrown his way.
The other day he and I were running an errand in Sammy's car and I told him that I really like him and that I just love being with him. And he looked at me like I was insane and asked, "why do you like me?!" I told him, "I like you because you are smart, handsome, really funny, and completely unashamed to have your own preferences unlike other kids who only say they like something because they think it will make them cool in the eyes of others. You on the other hand know what you like and are unique. I love that about you."
My little man has a green thumb. I'd actually say that he loves plants and growing things so much that he has 2 green thumbs. He loves to rip plants out of the ground (like cactuses around the field) and put them into plastic bottles and make them "his." He did this for months. He has taken raw beans from the dining hall and turned them into plants in my bedroom. His Back2Back Child Sponsor got involved and sent him plant kits. Last week a Back2Back team was serving at this orphanage all week and they brought him something like 20 packets of seeds so I took him to buy some dirt and we now have a huge garden out back behind our dorm.
At bedtime most nights as I tuck him into bed, after our bedtime prayer, I tell him what I dream for his future. I tell him all about the garden center he could own and operate one day and we talk about what that would be like.
As much as it pains my heart to hear him say things like "I'm not good at anything but I'm good at plants," I know that this is just the beginning. My little man's story is far from over and God is using plants to show him that he is good at something.
I think we all need reminders sometimes that we are valuable. Who we are and who we believe that we are makes all the difference. 1 Peter 2:9-10 tells us, "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out the darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."