Are you ready for real, vulnerable, ugliness of my heart? Well, it’s coming, and not because I’m just thrilled to show you my nitty, gritty sin. God has been talking to me a lot about convenience and comfort. Is love comfortable? Is love always convenient? The answer is pretty simple. So why do I get so frustrated when I am inconvenienced by the little people living in my home? The short answer is, sin.
In Philippians chapter two, Paul reminds us how we are to love: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others (v. 3 & 4, ESV). Paul can confidently give us this instruction because it is how Christ loves us. As Christians, we are to imitate Him, especially in the way He loves. Being frustrated by the needs of these children due to inconvenience or discomfort is certainly not putting their needs above my own. It’s certainly not loving them like Christ.
My biological children are 8 and 13, and they are both boys. The foster children we have are 2 and 3, and they are both girls. My boys are rather independent. My girls are very dependent. I know my boys very well, I have cared for them since birth. I don’t know my girls very well, because I have only cared for them four weeks. My boys love me and are attached in a healthy way, because I am their mother. My girls like me sometimes and are not at all attached, because I am not their mother; in fact, I may seem like their enemy who keeps them away from their mother on any given day. I cannot expect to parent these girls the same way I parent my boys, nor can I expect these girls to behave in the same manner I expect from my boys. All of this makes life a little difficult, not very convenient, and sometimes uncomfortable.
I wonder if Christ was inconvenienced when the Father asked Him to surrender to His death? I wonder if Jesus was comfortable receiving the beating I deserved, or suffocating to death on the cross because of my sin? I wonder, even in Christ’s inconvenience and discomfort, did He get frustrated with me? Did He ever look upon me with anything in His eyes besides love? These questions are rhetorical and I doubt I have to answer them for you. Heavy, weighty, real – yes?
That escalated rather quickly, huh? We went from getting frustrated in the day-to-day tasks of parenting traumatized children to Christ suffering and dying for our sin. That is how we should view EVERYTHING. Through the lens of the cross, all things change. That fresh perspective will shift every minute of my day-to-day from selfishness to selflessness. Why? Because Christ owed me nothing, but gave me everything. These girls have had everything stripped from them, have nothing to offer, but deserve no less.
The picture above depicts grace. That Tech Deck ramp she is playing with was purchased for my 13 year old when he was approximately her age. When he opened that package for the first time, no one could have predicted that some ten years later a sweet blonde haired beauty, with nothing to call her own, would be enjoying the toy so very much. That’s grace. It’s not convenient to open our home and double the number children we have overnight. It’s not comfortable being mean-mugged by a traumatized 3 year old who misses her mommy. It’s not convenient to dig through years of toys, that belong to boys, trying to find something these new children would like to play with. It’s not comfortable trying to coax a 2 year old into the bathroom for a bath given by a stranger. But in those first 24hrs, God’s grace was evident beyond everything else. I didn’t feel the discomfort and inconvenience, just grief and suffering.
One month in, we are all getting a little more comfortable and establishing routines and expectations, and this is where it gets tricky. I feel as though they have always been here, but they still long for home. Things don’t always go as planned and that’s when feelings explode. As the parent, my job is to remain cool and calm – ideally. When discomfort and inconvenience rear their ugly heads, I am immediately frustrated. The reason is selfishness. I forget their needs, let alone put them first, and am blinded only by the inconvenience and discomfort. It always comes out as frustration.
But God, He is showing me the way. Through the lens of Calvary, that dramatic and necessary act of selflessness, I gain new perspective. If I continue to place the cross before me, I will look upon every circumstance in a new way. If I start each day meditating on the truth of scripture, I will set myself up for success. If I fix my eyes on Jesus, my girls will see him too.
How goes it with you? Will you let me know I’m not alone? I know I’m not; that’s why I can confidently share with you what God was so sweet to point out. Paul would not have spent so much time preaching about selfless love, and imitating Christ, if I was the only one who needed the message. I pray this blesses you in some way, as this is my only goal: obey Christ so He is glorified. His grace is sufficient, saints. Lay it down at the foot of the cross.