I have, yet again, come to realize that opening the front (and the back) door to kids with messy pasts is a fast track to a few things:
f. Conviction of sin
Despite the above list, I do really feel that God is working out in me something beautiful; not because I’m perpetually obedient, or because I’m a super mom of three under three, or because I have an unreal amount of patience (we’ve been over this—see above letter b.), but because I feel like I’m constantly at my limit. Why would this work out something beautiful, you ask? Great question.
Let me explain: I feel like my life is the cup you used in a science experiment in like middle school or something—the one that you used a dropper with and added one drop of water at a time to see the water form a dome over the top of the glass or on top of a coin. In the experiment, you continue adding one drop at a time to see how many you can add before the water tension breaks and all the water flows out over the table. You guys, as I discipline my boys for the thirteenth time in the first hour of the day, my water tension breaks and water pours out all over the surface of the preverbal table. What’s really happening is we’re still in survival-mode having X in our home (Martell and Esmae too!), so our glasses are always pretty full it seems. And every time something happens that feels hard, we are pushed above the edge of the cup a little farther every time until the last possible drop is added and Mommy and Daddy’s patience comes crashing down; Martell’s self-control comes unleashed; Esmae’s independence is completely abandoned; X’s repetitive yelling reaches new sound decibels, and the tension is felt all over the room.
Beautiful, still, where’s the beautiful? Let’s get back to the beautiful part: This thing we’re doing with X is hard work. We’ve had so many people tell us we have our hands full, or that they can’t imagine doing what we’re doing, or that they admire what we’re doing, and most of your initial reactions that say, “you guys are crazy” are spot on. It is so far from glamorous. We’re in week five right now, and Gabe has asked me more than once if I think we made a mistake taking X in. The truth is, there are no mistakes this big. There is no turning back (which is not on the table) without pain in the hearts of all parties. I think when we, as Christians, choose to live life at the edges of ourselves, we experience the most exhaustion, impatience, anxiety, change, self-reflection, and conviction of sin…yet we also gain the most intimacy with and knowledge of Jesus. When we, as a family, get to pray and pray and pray over pain, and we see Jesus answer those prayers, we get to show the little people under our roof and our watching friends who this Jesus guy really is—that He is indeed Emmanuel, God with us; that He is in fact Jehovah Rapha—The Lord our Healer.
When we choose to live at the edges of ourselves, we get to need people. We get to see our community step into and around our lives. We get to expose our imperfection as Christians, as people, which we so often try to hide with niceties and good deeds. Something about living a high-stress life brings us down to the real world so-to-speak. Welcoming in a little kid who’s sore from feeling forgotten and aching from abuse helps us relate to the hurting world in a different way—we get to feel its’ sting a bit more. We get to see outside our privilege ever-so-slightly to reveal all over again why our world needs Jesus so badly; we get to see inside our home again and again why we need Jesus so badly; and most of all we get to see through the walls of our very own hearts exposing why we need Jesus so badly. I’m extra thankful for the resurrection today—thankful He didn’t stay in the grave, but He overcame death and all its’ sting for you and for me—for these kids—so that all the ways their hearts have already experienced the death and sin and hurt and twisted way of our world—can one day be healed by the One who made a way.