It’s a wonderful and humbling feeling knowing you are responsible for someone else’s child.
Since DJ’s fabulous forever family stepped up to submit the paperwork to make this sweet superhero their own two weeks ago, I’ve been acutely aware that this amazing 10-year-old boy who chops onions and garlic in my kitchen and walks around the house in a robe and underwear (please forgive us, Harder family, for transmitting our boys’ hatred of clothing to YOUR sweet boy this summer!) is not MINE. His last name and family affiliation will soon belong to someone else.
He is someone else’s CHILD.
So as I’ve loved on and encouraged and “raised” someone else’s child for a month, I’ve found myself being more careful. Using more caution. Exercising more intentionality. Practicing more patience. And I’ve found myself viewing this boy’s words and actions and curiosity and exploration through a totally different lens.
Rather than being frustrated by his curiosity, I’ve been enamored by it.
Rather than being impatient when he’s wanted to linger to experience the wonder of a swimming pool or the scents of foods not prepared in orphanage kitchens, I’ve seen it as a privilege to give this sweetheart time and space to experience the BEAUTY of the little things.
And rather than viewing his quirks as annoyances or irritations, I’ve been captivated by them. CHARMED by them. In love with learning more and more about all the ins and outs of this innocent little boy heart in this half-a-man’s body, even if those quirks have seemed weird or strange or sometimes even rude.
It has been my honor and privilege to ENJOY this sweet boy for a month as I’ve had pleasure of holding his hand as he’s experienced new LIFE. My heart has just BLED with compassion at every step (even the ones through the mud that led to loads of laundry and lots of mopping). Because this superhero has had a hard life. Because he’s very much still learning. Because he DESERVES God’s lavish LOVE and GRACE and KINDNESS, though represented so poorly through my imperfect hands, at every turn.
Because God has entrusted my husband and me to be HIS hands and feet to this precious, precious life.
Because he’s someone else’s child.
And that’s when God reminds me — so are mine.
So are mine.
These three superheroes are not my own. They are children of God, children that God, in all His grace (but maybe not so much in His wisdom) for some reason entrusted to ME. Entrusted to us. To raise up and care for and turn back toward HIM. To love on and play with and be captivated by and enjoy.
To LEARN FROM … when we, as adults, get caught in the crazy pace and priorities of busy, task-oriented life.
To LOVE on, with a patience and grace and love that comes not from our own ability to be “good parents,” but from the very HEART of the best parent of all time — a Father to the fatherless. A perfect God.
Like DJ, these superheroes do not belong to me. They belong to HIM. And when I view their precious lives through the lens of an entrustment from a gracious God who has allowed me to keep them on loan for a season, my heart crumbles. I am humbled. And suddenly, my actions and priorities change — in the same way they have changed this summer when interacting with DJ.
When they’re MY children, MY rules matter. MY idea of manners matter. And my vision of what children should do and what family should be matters MORE than these children’s desires to enjoy and explore and leap off pieces of furniture into God’s world, mostly in the nude.
When they’re God’s, His priorities — especially that one about loving Him and others WELL — trump all. HIS HEART matters most. His GRACE rules every conversation, HIS PRIORITIES take constant precedence. His emphasis on the HEART matters more than any manners or etiquette or clothing a superhero might wear when covering his.
When they’re MY children, I issue lots of consequences. There are punishments to fit every crime and extra Saturday chores lists to fit every urine-soaked toilet seat cover. My responses are quick and my words are sadly sometimes critical.
When they’re GOD’S children, I invest in COACHING. I view mistakes through the eyes of compassion and see obstacles as opportunities to TEACH and to TRAIN. Instead of critical words, I use constructive ones. And instead of busting out the chore charts, I bust out the Cheerio targets. And together, we learn to aim.
And when they’re MY children, MY schedule matters. My routines take precedence. My color-coded calendar most certainly rules the roost.
But when they’re God’s children, our time is HIS. Our days are His. Our moments are His. We have freedom to linger, we have space to wonder. We have margin to marvel at the mysteries and wonders of dead snakes and pool drains and buried rusty nails, even if that means we miss the produce sale at the market or the second tae kwon do class of the week.
Because when these children are HIS, enjoying and exploring and observing HIS WORLD becomes more important than running ourselves ragged in OURS.
These angels who live in our home permanently — they deserve the SAME UNDERSTANDING, the SAME COMPASSION, the SAME LAVISH LOVE we have been so intentional about giving our summer superhero this year. They deserve the same patience and playfulness. They deserve the same GRACE.
Because ultimately, they, too, will return to another parent. And when they do, it’s not the manners or the clean toilets or the kept schedule that will matter most; it’s the HEARTS that have experienced the passionate LOVE and GRACE and FORGIVENESS and COMPASSION of a perfect God, portrayed through the love of two VERY imperfect parents, that will have the best chance of knowing the Gospel truth.
Lord, teach us to love these borrowed angels like YOU.