The relationship between abuse and low self-esteem is complicated. Globally, people study the abusers as well as their victims to better understand the whos, whats, whens, whys, and hows of this hidden tragedy. Hopefully, with so many working together, future generations will be able to overcome this destructive force of evil.
According to Overcoming.co.uk, a website that focuses on mental health issues, "Crucial experiences that help to form our beliefs about ourselves often (although not always) occur early in life. It is, therefore, essential that children are introduced to the concept of self-esteem at an early age. In order to prevent domestic violence in future generations, children need to understand if what they are feeling is healthy and learn positive ways to feel better about themselves. "
This month's theme in the Section 8 housing complexes here in Puerto Rico is "Improving Self-Esteem". The social worker asked us to do a program for the kids which helps them understand that they are valuable and precious... even though many of the people in their lives tell them differently and treat them like trash.
We began by singing a song that includes fun accompanying motions, which explains that they are perfect in God's eyes. At the beginning it says, "I am God's perfect design." The kids were reluctant to sing along at first, but Chris lovingly encouraged them to participate. It was beautiful to watch them let down their guard and lift their voices. By the end many were giggling and encouraging the others to "do the moves". I didn't feel comfortable taking a picture knowing that the kids were feeling so self-conscience; so, I recorded my own kids singing the song just so that you could get a sense of what we do. Click here to see a video clip: https://youtu.be/O_YPR_xKc7Q
We wanted the kids to leave with things that could serve as constant reminders of Jesus' love for them. The first thing we did was to help them make mobiles to hang by their beds. Each hanging circle had a negative thing on one side and a countering affirmation on the other side. For example, one circle said (side A), "If someone criticizes you for making low marks in school..." (side B) "...remember that people laughed at Jesus for being a simple carpenter from a poor family." The people in Jesus' day assumed a lot about Jesus because he wasn't a well known scholar. We reminded the kids that just because somebody says something doesn't mean that it's true!! As we discussed each type of negative encounter we emphasized the truth that their value comes from their identity as sons and daughters of Our God and King. Our value is NOT determined by the opinions of other people!! There is nothing that anyone can say or do that can somehow decreases our value as a person. We reminded the kids that they are perfect in the eyes of God and that their Creator delights in them... even though none of us are perfect, God loves us exactly as we are. In addition to the mobiles, the kids left with wooden crosses hand-painted by members of Team Carmody, as well as glow-in-the-dark rosaries which were donated by a local woman here in Aguada. Aware that few of the kids' families are Catholic, we suggested that the rosaries could simply be used as a source of comfort during those sleepless nights.
In addition to our craft, Chris read from a children's bible and reflected on God's special love for them. As I watched from the corner it seemed that the kids felt uncomfortable being told that they are amazing. It breaks my heart to think about the negativity that many of them experience on a daily basis. I pray that we were able to plant a seed or two that the Lord can water in the days, weeks, months and years to come.
Here are a few photos of our craft time:
Each time we visit this particular housing project we see more and more familiar faces. We thank God for the opportunity to build friendships with these kids and look forward to all that the Lord will do in each of their hearts. I am eternally grateful for all those who support us financially; without them we couldn't do all that the Lord has called us to do for the people of Puerto Rico.
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