Some things take a while to get used to. For example, writing the correct date this year is more difficult for me because it begins with a 2 and not a 1. My hand is conditioned to make that downward stroke. I wonder how long it will be before I finally write 2020 without hesitation.
I got to thinking about that minor change and how it compares to the changes children at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch are going through. After years of dealing with their challenges in a certain way, they are finding new ways to interact with the world.
For instance, some of our kids have never been treated with respect, love, and support. They are learning to accept our love and respect and to realize they deserve it. Too many of our kids don't know how to respond to kindness because they've rarely experienced it.
Others have created walls of anger, self-hard, manipulation, or addiction to keep people at a distance—because that made the abuse less painful to endure. They are breaking down the walls and trusting we are here to help them, not hurt them.
When you think of how difficult it is to just write the correct year, can you imagine how much more practice and conditioning it takes to make serious adjustments in your life? It's not going to happen overnight.
Every one of the children in our care has made it through life doing the best they can with what they have. When they come to the Ranch, we give them a whole new set of options. And it takes time and hard work to condition themselves into a healthier set of habits.
I sometimes hear from people whose perception of the Ranch is that it's where the "bad kids" go. It hurts my heart to hear people say that. They are not "bad kids"—far from it. They are precious in God's eyes.
Thank you for seeing Ranch children through Christ's eyes. Thank you for seeing the potential in each child. Thank you for understanding change takes time and for standing with us to give kids the time they need to heal and change.
Your friend in Christ,
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Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is a Christian residential treatment and educational center for children and their families. We help the most troubled, complicated, and amazing kids by providing best-in-class psychiatric therapy and trauma-informed care, where we look kids in the eye, walk with them, and help them become their best selves.