"i was always a dreamer...one of those people who wanted to change the world. i prayed for it, ached for it, fantasized about living in a hut in Africa and caring for abandoned children. when i was 23, we adopted D. i read in the bible that God wanted us to care for orphans and so we went and found one to care for. i knew what the words Fetal Alcohol Syndrome meant because my parents had done foster care for many years, but still, when the doctor pronounced it over my 1 year old i set my shoulders and laughed it in the face. "we'll see about that!" back then i thought that love was going to change the world and God would never let us fail.
i hadn't taken into account His long view nor how He was going to rip through my romanticized version of world-changing and give me the cold, hard reality.
let's face it, we all want to be katie in one way or the other. we all want to march in and save the world. we love the idea of sacrificing ourselves for the poor, the suffering, the outcast.
what we don't want to do is get up right now and love the drunk in our family. or the brother who can't keep a job. or the self-important right-wing(or left-wing!) jerk we go to church with.
the ever-wise everly said it in the comments yesterday:
I'd rather be holding an orphan, giving her the first taste of comfort, the first love of Christ, her first toys and clean clothes and bath than dealing with a few of our used-to-be-orphans who sometimes seem to make life messy as a goal.
you see, that's the problem. eventually, the orphans become the kids next door, the teenager someone's having a hard time with, the adult who can't hold down a job. then they aren't so lovely. and then i don't really want to save them anymore. i just want them to grow up, get a life, quit taking advantage of people.
oh friends, that starry-eyed girl i once was has been humbled - laid low, actually - by the reality of the grace of God that sees past the orphan to the person and loves them all the way through. while i was patting myself on the back for adopting a baby, God was looking ahead to the teen who would be crippled by brain-damage, ruled by cravings and impulses and helpless to stop and terrified of the consequences; who would be invisibly handicapped so that when the world demanded his compliance - he could never give it. God loves the man, who may go to jail; who will probably fight addiction; who will most likely be unable to hold down a job or pay his rent. God looked ahead and He loved that man.
the challenge, of course, is will I?
will i read Isaiah 58 and understand that God is commanding me to love - not tolerate - the boy in my house and the drunk in the family and the guy i don't like at church and the migrant workers in town and the children in Africa with no water?
will i realize that sometimes God reaches down and heals someone instantly and we get to dance and sing and say "look how Love has changed the world!" ... but more often He crawls right into the mess and there He spends His time wiping tears and holding broken people and saying "I'll be here when you get back," as they wander off?
i wanted to be a part of the dancing and singing. i wanted God to be so delighted with our adoption that He would fix everything and then i could spend the rest of my life saying "look how Love has changed the world!" and we would all be happy.
but He invited me to crawl into the mess instead.
right down here where disappointment and heartache live.
"Come with Me."
now my clothes are dirty, my hands are filthy; i get tired, i get embarrassed; i hate the dark.
but you know what? i'm rich. i have choices. i don't have to stay here. i could give up on the adoption, send my kid away for someone else to deal with. i could make my life neat and tidy and shut out anyone whom i can't fix with a scripture verse and a pat on the back. i could build a sturdy wall between me and everyone who can't get their act together.
i know a lot of people who do that.
but Jesus is here in the mess.
and i really want to be where He is.
(and by the way, i found out we can dance here too.)"