As the little girl climbed onto my lap, I could tell she was from a foster home, probably recently placed there I thought. She had a certain essence about her that I can’t quite explain. You could feel it coming from her very being – a longing to belong, a longing for love. It is so distinct in the really little ones, it’s much more than just a friendly kid. She clung to me, a stranger, because she supposed to cling. It’s how children are made. Naturally they choose their mothers, yet when that relationship is broken they will find the connection they crave somewhere else. I gently stroked her little arm and noticed the rash, I could tell it went beyond her arms. She scratched at it and my heart broke for her.
He acts up every time he’s with his peers. He’s the one that seems to not care what anyone thinks, the one that all the teachers have their eye on from the moment he walks in the room. They blame him before he’s really even done anything because by the time he has, he’s already completely out of hand. The leaders strictly order him around, and he barely listens, apparently because he doesn’t care about authority. But I know better, I know he has had a HARD life. I know he has been abandoned by his own father and mother. And really, he cares more than any other kid in the room what the leaders think of him. Because he’s hungry for love…you can feel the yearning from across the room. He’s seeking attention he never gets anywhere else.
I love children. I’ve loved them for as long as I can remember. Even in my most selfish, hardened teenage years, I found children impossible to resist. I loved all children, but I REALLY loved children who needed the extra love. Those from broken homes, those neglected, those who were rejected by peers, those who acted out in their pain, those who struggled with authority. THOSE are the ones who had my heart, THOSE are the ones I wanted to help… “The least of these” the bible calls them.
Some people don’t like kids. They find them annoying and gross. However when these people who dislike kids have their own, often I see something magical happen – they fall in love. Parents can’t help but admitting to having a special love for their own children. It’s normal, it’s how we’re wired. So naturally, being someone who already LOVES children, I figured that I would be an amazing mom someday because my love would be that much stronger for my own kids! It took a long time for me to realize that it wasn’t that simple.
One day, as I was racing around my house doing all the little things that needed to get done before starting school that morning, my two-year old boy was crying at my feet. Ok, more like tugging and screaming. I sighed, very annoyed because I knew from experience that he would continue to cry and cry for me until I stopped everything I was doing to hold him in my arms. And as I sat down on the couch holding him with resent in my heart because this child was keeping me from my “more important duties” the realization struck me like a brick in the face:
I have far more compassion for everyone else’s children then my own flesh and blood.
The realization shocked me. Why do I have so much more love for other people’s children, difficult children even, than my own precious kids? What is wrong with me? Aren’t most people opposite? And even more starling to me was when my five-year old sat down beside me, he snuggled up close and as I slowly pulled him in to stroke his arm I noticed the rash. How long has THAT been there? I wondered. How in the world did I notice and care so much about the rash on the little girl in the nursery at church and not on my own son? Do I ignore them that much? Or was this hitting something deeper?
Throughout the next few days I realized the problem. You see I didn’t choose to have kids the way many people do. They came into my life when I wasn’t ready for them. From my first pregnancy when I was only seventeen years old, to my fifth child when I was 25. I hadn’t chosen to be a mother to them, it was simply a responsibility I’d been given. And, little by little, I was giving myself to serve and love these children who “had it all.” They are from a good home, they have had everything they need and more. They didn’t act out because of some need that wasn’t being met, they acted out because they were just being kids. And here I was, stuck in what I felt was a “lower” calling: Mothering my own children. Because where is the respect in THAT? It’s nothing special! Is it? I’m just doing what’s expected of me! I’m just doing my duty!
Now raising the unwanted – the difficult, the sick, the neglected, the abused, that’s a more worthy calling!
Or is it?
This calling of motherhood. It wasn’t as heroic, it wasn’t as fascinating, it wasn’t different or extraordinary. It came with stretch marks and back troubles. It meant patience with kids who’ve always had everything they need.
It meant letting go of the idea that the call to “missions” is any different then the call to “motherhood”.
Because here really lies the problem: we Christians (really I’m talking about myself here) have a certain pedestal we put people on…that the young man who leaves his home and family, who sells his possessions to bring the gospel to the nations is obviously FAR more spiritual then the one who takes a wife, and builds a home, who has a family and provides for them. We do this all the time. And we need to STOP. I need to stop believing this crap.
It’s garbage, really.
You know what is really spiritual? Following God wholeheartedly whether he chooses for you to be a king…or a shepherd boy, a ruler…or a servant, a missionary…or a fisherman, a person who rescues abandoned children and starts an orphanage…or a mother. Because the ONLY calling that is heroic is following the one that God gives you. EVEN if you didn’t choose it. EVEN if it just sort of happened.
I was given five children, even if I didn’t choose them. But today I am adopting them into my heart. I choose each one of them because they each have a huge need that only I can fill. They need a mother who has chosen them.
And that my friends is a high calling. Not just because of what I’m doing, but because of the One who called me.