I love them. These kids with holes in their hearts the size of Texas.
They fight and lie and sass and disobey and sneak.
They wet the beds that I fiercely try to protect and come out of the shower smelling like they haven’t bathed. They resist my offers for deodorant, powder and body wash as steadfastly as they resist my encouragement to not swear, pick up trash and answer when I call their names. Their eyes are bigger than their stomachs, they waste food, spoon sugar into forbidden cups of coffee that they’ve tried to disguise in hot chocolate, fill their cups so full that they spill with the first sip, and use four “stirrers” per cup no matter how many times they’ve been told that one is enough. They drag in dirt and leaves, don’t check for mud or dog doo on the the bottoms of their shoes and fiercely deny responsibility even when caught red-handed. They use up the glue, break the crayons, waste craft supplies and want to abandon projects the minute things get tough. They tattle and pout and aggravate each other and have potty mouths.
But I love them. Even when they aggravate me to within an inch of my patience, and I feel the only way to some resemblance of order and obedience is to issue stern ultimatums. (“I can’t take you home because your parents aren’t there, but I can make you sit by Mr. Daniel, and I WILL if you don’t straighten up!” “Either you come RIGHT NOW or you won’t be coming back tomorrow.” “Either you come in to church like I told you, or I’m going to pack you up and take you home!”) I still love them!
Somehow, even in my most frazzled moments, there is this nagging little thought at the back of my head that says, “What would I be like if I were in their shoes–if all the people for all the generations I know in my family were broken by crime, divorce, drugs, alcohol and dependency? How would I cope with life if my mother consistently chose her own selfish heart over my physical and emotional well-being? Would I even know what truth is if my parents and grandparents and myriads of “uncles” and “aunts” all lied about anything and everything — even stuff that didn’t really matter? Who would teach me personal hygiene if I was an adolescent girl living alone with my dad and the only creatures that really cared about me were the cats I rescued from the weeds around the trailer in a despicable, rundown trailer court that I called home? Or what dreams could I dream for life if I lived in a filthy trailer with ten other people most of the time, where dogs and babies and drug dealers and sex orgies mingle with a nine year old boy and an eleven year old girl who have no space to call their own, and the police come out to a child’s birthday party that turns into drunken fights among the adults?
And I’ve hardly scratched the surface of what these kids deal with every. single. day. I look at their beautiful faces and wonder what in the world we can do to make a difference for eternity, yes, but also for the challenges of the here and now living that they did not choose, do not want, but cannot escape. And what does God want? I’m quite sure that what He wants just may go against my natural inclinations and brightest ideas.
And so I find myself once again, tucking a girlie into the best bed in the house, praying the Lord her soul to keep (while praying almost as fervently that the pull up and the protective pad will hold. It doesn’t). It’s almost as if I think that somehow through the clean sheets, the kind words, the peaceful house, the wide open spaces, they will somehow experience the Light of the Lord Jesus, the Hope of Heaven, the possibility of redemption . . .
How futile the efforts of mortals!
He is the one who must draw them to Himself! Yes, He uses mortals, and yes, He calls us to be His ambassadors, but the work is Christ’s! And if any of us come safely home to Heaven, we will do it through His Precious Blood. I see their needs, so glaring, so desperate, and in the face of the magnitude of their need, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that it took the same blood for my great need.
And so, that voice at the back of my subconscious thought needs heeding.
If it weren’t for Grace, where would we be?