I am a prophet. We, we parents who dismissively mumble words out of weariness and exhaustion, we are prophets. We are piecing our children’s souls together, one irritated word at a time, creating a mosaic of phrases, remarks, and feelings. What do we want them to act like? Who do we want them to be?
Called. That’s a very tricky word right there. Here’s what I think about that word. Sometimes, I think we use that word as an excuse to not do scary things.
In all of our protecting and in all of our keeping them separate what if we are not only protecting them from all the bad but we are preventing them from ever seeing God DO ANYTHING GOOD. They never experience any moments that make them say, “HOLY CRAP. Did you just see that? This God is AMAZING. Heck yes I believe!”
We need to hang out at the temple just as he did. But he didn’t stay there. Why are we still in the temple? My faith has been crippled because I refuse to leave the safety and comfort of the temple.
There are so many ways to look after orphans other than adopting or fostering. But when it comes to fostering a child, there seems to be one common, acceptable excuse: “I could never do that. I wouldn’t be able to give them back. It would be too hard. I couldn’t handle it.”
I used to think this same way. But if we can be honest for a second, can we admit that this is just an excuse for our own fear and selfishness?
So it’s hard. Don’t do it if you aren’t determined to make it work from the beginning. Because, did I mention it’s hard? But there are ways to help it function a little better. These are a few principles I wish I’d realized a long time ago.
I don’t know how to articulate the change that’s going on in me. I can’t express the plans I have to turn that change into action. All I know is that God is revealing truths to me, about my ignorance, my pride, my preoccupations that rock my core.
I live in a two-story house; I worship the white-man’s God; I have an obsession with cute shoes; I spend an obscene amount on fast-food; and I know that one block away from my house a woman was shot and murdered a few years ago by her boyfriend. I sit in this room and contemplate and conversate and ruminate over the struggles of the poor man and the oppressed man, and I leave to obliviously crawl into my double bed with the three-inch orthopedic mattress topper I found on E-Bay to read more about those struggling folks I don’t know.
But I do know them. Yesterday. I saw one. I saw one walking down Judge Ely with a limp and three grocery bags, setting down the bags every few steps to catch her breath. I see one standing on the corner at Wal-Mart with a sign nearly every time I go to spend money on those things I can’t live without.
And then there’s Jesse, six-years-old, a bit small for his age, with the most genuine gold-capped tooth smile. Jesse, the homeless kid in class whose mom is a stripper. The nights she works, he stays with his teenage aunt in the hotel room they live in with his 4-year-old and 10-month-old brothers. Jesse, who knows all his letters and numbers and reads better than any student in his kindergarten class, but will never be taught how to rise above his circumstances because he’ll just be learning how to survive. Jesse, who left halfway through the semester to go to his fourth elementary school in a year because his mom is running from CPS.
And I cried that day. But then I went back to my side of town to play private school soccer and make semi-funny jokes and do my bible homework. Just another day in the life of me. So my tears dried up pretty nicely.
What good are tears if they don’t clean out the dirt and grime and indifference and inaction from within? Jesse will never see my tears. He doesn’t care about my tears. He has his own. But it made me feel better to cry it out. Tears make me feel like I care, like I sympathize, and like I’m a good person for feeling sorry for them. I’m sure those struggling folks are really happy I feel sorry for them.
You see, I claim to be color-blind. But really, I’m just blind. Blinded by my passions, my pursuits, my people. But mostly blinded by my self-righteous, vain, futile tears. The tears that convince me that I’m doing something. The tears that run down my face and fall aimlessly on hard, cold ground so they can dissipate into nothingness. The tears that evolve from that place deep within me that is angry at the injustices, marginalization and rejection of God’s people. The same place that action is born and dies.
So here’s to replacing tears for warfare. Because Jesse doesn’t need tears, he needs a battle waged in his name. Because tears don’t give him a home, or a better mom, or a good education, or a future. I’m laying down my warm fuzzies and exchanging my pocketed hands for fists of indignation.
I hear stories of change, justice, service, love and I praise those courageous people for their purpose. And sit. I watch videos of Mother Teresa and weep at the materialism of my life and the direction of hers. And sit. I encounter deprived and unloved and angry people and turn my back to their distress. Because I’m too busy sitting.
Jesus never sat. He walked, healed, glorified, baptized, praised, preached, led, discipled, cared for, ministered. And if he was ever tired, he knelt.
I am kneeling. I am kneeling that I may stand. I want to stand and be your hands and feet. And heart. I want you to stir within me so greatly and unmistakably that I am physically moved out of my seat. I finally understand the purpose of my formation. I am formed not so that I can be your best follower or favorite daughter. Not so that I can feel good about my religiosity. Not so that I can be a great Christian leader in the church and impress others by how many verses are underlined in my bible. But so that I can better serve my brothers and sisters. I am born again so that I can constantly be transformed and reformed in your likeness, which enables me to walk, heal, glorify, baptize, praise, preach, lead, disciple, care for, and minister.
Open my eyes, God, to those moments. And move me to take advantage of them.
And help me see the emptiness of my tears.