My husband and I have wanted to be missionaries or some sort of heroes in the battle against human trafficking. Wanting to stand in the gap for others makes us good people, right? I guess I was feeling like I was a pretty good person. I left my teaching job in order to begin reflection and finding our place in this (also because I felt God urging me to leave it since the job consumed me). I spent a year recovering from my career, writing, and wanting to get in touch with what God’s plan was for me. However, I found myself lacking in the spiritual revelation area.
Parenting in any form had never crossed my mind. That would get in the way of what we really felt we should be doing in helping others. We were so much the unparents that people joked about how unparent we were.
Then, through a series of events still unbelievable to me, we ended up agreeing to take in a four-year old girl, related to me. We knew it was the right thing and were beginning to see how God had made a way for us to be in place for this child when she needed us, but it was hard, and we were only beginning to see it, after all. At first, I felt like this might get in the way of us doing the big plan we knew God had for us. I also was selfish because I didn’t know how I was going to have time to be me anymore. This was a legit worry for a couple who never planned to have kids in over 14 years of marriage. And it was a legit shock to my world since I had just experienced a year of total freedom to do what I wanted, when I wanted. But, still, I was being selfish. I had to grow up and look beyond myself.
We were doing the best we knew how to raise a displaced little girl, but my inexperience had me wondering why God would have her with me, of all people. There had to be someone better equipped. People seemed to think my husband was made for the role, but all the jokes from the past of me being such an unparent were messing with my confidence and making me feel overwhelmed and sorry for her having been placed in my care. Surely God had made a mistake. Oops!
One day, I picked her up from school and had to take her for a school physical. Maybe she hadn’t slept well the night before, because she was moody…or maybe she was just picking up on my insecurity. She threw a fit I didn’t understand and I didn’t know what to do. When we arrived at our destination, I could no longer hold back my tears. I apologized to her for having to live with me because I wasn’t sure what I was doing and she deserved better than me. She looked at me with big, loving eyes and began to cry too. She hugged me so tightly. In that second, I realized this little girl had been traumatized by rejection, and I had to pull it together for her and give her the sense of security all children need, because she was acting up only because she was scared and living with hurt from the situation that had brought her to me in the first place. We couldn’t both be scared. I was the adult. I had to reassure her and be strong and loving. I let her know then that I was going to do my best to be better. It’s still not always easy, and many sacrifices have been made by my husband and I, but she has been every bit as much a blessing to us as I hope we have been for her. We’ve learned routine and shared in love and learning…and I feel God has been using her to help me grow up just as He is using us to be her protection and love. When you love someone, selfishness has a way of going away, and without resent. It has to, or someone will suffer. I refuse to see her suffer any more.
I never would have planned this for my life, but it wasn’t my plan. It was God’s. He has allowed us to be the security, love, and safety she was afraid she no longer had, and He has helped us to be more like Him, which is what the Bible tells us to do.
Are we there yet? Of course not. We are constantly learning, but this blessing wrapped in a child has truly opened our eyes. We’ll never be perfect, but we are constantly learning more about how to love like God loves and to put others before ourselves. He has equipped us in love, finances, and support from so many people around us. It’s a continual adventure, but we’ve learned to trust God in all of it.
When I heard the following song one day and truly listened to the words, I knew God was using it in that moment to speak to me. Maybe it can speak to someone else right now too.