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Derek and Ethan Teaching Me About the Father’s Love
By on December 17th, 2010

Derek and Ethan Teaching Me About the Father's Love

When I first met Ethan he was so fragile and tiny. He smelled like death and there was no life in his eyes. He couldn’t walk, talk, crawl or even drink from a bottle; he was 5 years old. The day Tiffany and Peter (the other two Family Integration Advocates [FIA] that work with me) and I met with Derek and Renee to talk about which of the three new Loux boys we would be working with, I was secretly hoping I wouldn’t get Ethan. He was the only one that I had not been able to make any kind of connection with. But sure enough, Derek informed me that Ethan was my assignment. I told myself I would find a way to connect with that boy and turn his life around; I had big plans for him. It was slow progress, but I can remember the first phone call from Derek: “Claire! Ethan just army crawled across the room and up the stairs to me!”. Still frustrated by my lack of connection with Ethan, I wasn’t as excited as his dad was; but he was excited enough for the both of us.

That wasn’t the only excited phone call I would get from Derek about his beloved little boy over the next year. By the end of the year, Ethan was beginning to feed himself, walk, and even communicate a few basic things through sign language. But although I spent 5 mornings a week doing physical therapy with him, changing his diapers, and teaching him how to eat, I still hadn’t broken that barrier and made the connection I had hoped to make. In fact, I felt I had hardly had any impact on this boy’s life at all. We had connected on a certain level, but we hadn’t bonded–I found myself feeling offended when he would favor a stranger over me. It might seem silly to be offended by a helpless little child like that, but there it is. What about everything I’d done and all the things I’d given up for him? And he still would rather have a stranger in the prayer room hold him than me! What was I doing wrong?

There was no one Ethan loved more than his “Papa”. Derek’s love had been what brought him to life and they adored each other. I would watch and try to learn from Derek, he knew how to love his children so well and I wanted to have that love for Ethan too. But I was coming at it all wrong; I was looking for Ethan to give me something back for everything I had given him. But Ethan had nothing to offer me. All he could do was sit there and let his family and me love him, and even that was difficult at times, because he had been without love for so long that he didn’t know how to receive it. However frustrating it was, I still kept at it, loving him and trying to improve his life in any way I could.

And then last December twenty-third, the day I want to forget so badly but it sticks in my mind like glue, Derek died. He would never again call me with “Ethan updates”, or sing Ethan his special song, or encourage me with his enthusiasm and love for his family and his vision for OJC.   I was devastated, totally unsure how to carry on. The next six months or so I went on auto-pilot, just doing what needed to be done, but not emotionally able to put my heart into it the way I needed to. My relationship with the Lord was suffering as well. Around that time, I started to listen to some of Derek’s old teachings; he never taught without telling stories about his children. Even though I had heard these teachings before and had seen him interacting with his children on a daily basis, it didn’t really sink in until now that he was able to love them so much because he didn’t seek anything from them in return. He had learned this from his relationship with the Lord, and was applying it to his life in a real way. He wasn’t perfect or anything–in fact it was the times that he screwed up that encouraged me the most; but he carried the heart of the Father in everything he did, and that was what I needed to learn to do.

I have always loved Ethan as if he were my own child, but now I get so much more joy out of working with him, because I can love him without seeking anything in return. Now when he is being difficult or doing something I don’t want him to, I actually feel joy, because I think of how the Lord loves me even when I’m being like that. Every time I look into Ethan’s  beautiful little face, I remember the love Derek had for him, and feel honored that he chose me to work with his precious son. He could not have given me a more important job.

Thank you, Derek,  for giving me the honor of caring for Ethan and letting me be part of your family. Thank you for being a voice for the oppressed, and carrying the heart of the Father. Somehow you are still touching so many lives, even in death. There is not and will never be anyone quite like you. I miss you and I can’t wait to see you again in heaven!

Claire & Ethan

Claire & Ethan

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