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At the Playground

I used to dread supervising family visits. Nothing about it is natural, everyone feels awkward, and I always knew no one wanted a social worker there. It is an inevitable part of my job, however, so I prepared myself to do it once again.

I knew pieces of this particular mother’s story, the part I read on paper anyway, so I already started stringing together preconceived notions of who she was.

That day I watched as she navigated the playground equipment, climbing, dodging, and squeezing through small spaces. She was determined to make it down that creaky blue slide as her child cheered her on from below. 

While they ate lunch, she showed me pictures of the room she was preparing for when her child returned. One of the pictures was a bedside mural she had hand-painted. She had obviously spent hours painting this mural of fish. With no detail left behind, she even included LED lights along the bottom that illuminated the fish swimming because her child was afraid of the dark.

I felt a tugging in my heart, my creator reminding me that this mother and I, well, we were far more alike than we were different: made in the image of God, loved by the Father, and doing our best to love our children. 

In my profession, I get to witness some parents get their children back, and some who don’t. Some truly are capable, and some aren’t. Regardless, I'm learning to extend grace rather than pass judgements.

At the end of the visit, I got the opportunity to tell this mother that I was praying for her family to be restored. It was a beautiful interaction knitted together by the Holy Spirit. Today, I view supervising family visits as a privilege. They are a ministry opportunity, just as much for my own heart as the parents I get the privilege of knowing along the way.

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