Over the past year, I began to take steps that I had always been afraid to take. I have always viewed my life as a journey forward, so therefore my focus had always been looking ahead. There was never really much inward reflection, or even looking at the road I had already traveled. Any inward reflection tended to lead to a weird depression because I only saw the things I didn't like. As many of you probably know, depression is never fun. As a result, anytime inward reflection began to take place, I would quickly move on. After-all, it's where I am going that matters, no matter who I am, if I can make it, I've done well and am a good person, or so I thought.
I had always known that my personal issues were taking a toll on my family. And I like to be an open book, so I will let you all know that these issues I am referring to, all stem from anger. I am a short-tempered individual. I often speak without thinking, and say hurtful things while in the process. I began to weigh if I was even qualified to be in any type of ministry. An angry man sharing good news? That didn't really make sense to me.
I spent a very large amount of time in prayer. Late nights were I found myself with an inability to focus on anything other than prayer. I wrestled. I blamed everything on everyone else. I blamed my anger on the unprocessed death of my father. I blamed it on the sinful man that he was. What I didn't realize however, is that my own sin was in the way of seeing that no man is to blame for my own actions apart from myself.
I began counseling. Something I told myself I always wanted to do but never really actually wanted to do it. I began to focus on my anger, and the root of that problem. God guided me through prayer and rambling to myself. I began to strategically look at my own inward life, and the results have been beautiful. I have not only been able to control my anger better, but have also been able to see my entire life from a different lens.
This brings me to where I am today. Humbled in every area of my life, and the bubbles of joy are rising. I am healing, and God is so good.
Last week, our 4-year-old daughter started pre-school. She has always been extremely attached to mom and dad, which has made the transition to pre-school a little more difficult for her.
This morning, dropping her off, I was a mess. There will be no macho dad talk here, just real talk about how I cried like a baby, and it was one of the hardest conversations I have had with her to date. Likely more so for me, than her.
Our drive to school was about 25 minutes long, and it started out great. We began it by talking about ways she can cope with her sadness that may come while she is at school. She was ready. Then about 10 minutes in she started to get quiet. I watched her through the rearview mirror as she stared out the window not saying a word. I put on one of her favorite worship songs and we began to listen. I continued to watch her, and she looked defeated.
“Dad, it’s just I feel all alone at school because you’re not there.”
Gah, that hurts.
“Lucy, do you know what this song is about?”
“No, I just like it.”
It is at this moment that I began to share in more depth than I ever have to her, about God’s great love for her. How no matter what she does, feels, or thinks, He will love her. He has chosen to rescue us at our lowest. A point I was really hoping to hit; He is always with her.
It was at this moment that it hit me. The best way I could show her how much He loves her in that moment was to be completely vulnerable. My eyes welled up and the tears began to fall. Maybe she saw me cry, maybe not. Either way, I knew I was about to say the hardest thing I had ever said.
“Lucy, I love you so much. I need to tell you something though.”, I was completely choked up at this point. “There will always be someone who loves you more than me. I will never be able to love you as much as He does. Jesus will always love you more than I do. There will be times I can’t be there for you, but He is always there for you.”
She just looked at me like I was crazy, and probably thinking, “Why in the world would you ever tell a 4-year-old that someone will love her more than you do?”
She seemed to brush off the whole conversation by the time we got to school, which was still a challenging but not as bad drop off by the way.
But it really hit me hard. It was truth, but it was a truth that for so often I refused to give submit to. I had to say the words, to my daughter, in order to relinquish my control to Him. What else in my life has this same kind of control? What else do I brush under the rug and refuse to let go of? Too much. And it hinders not just my own growth, but of so many others as well.
It’s a journey, and it’s hard. But I am learning. Here’s to always coming in second place, and being absolutely OK with that.
This one I have been giving a lot of thought and my words have often fallen short of where I wanted my heart to go. However; last night, approaching midnight, I felt this thing start to bubble up in my chest.
I am currently in my final year of my undergrad. After an 11 year hiatus, I decided to go back to school last January. It has been refreshing. However, it has been challenging in many ways. My nights have been later, my time with family less, but the sense of finishing something that I started when I was just a depressed 18-year-old has been oddly satisfying. Even more so because I spent 10 of those 11 years thinking I could care less about finishing.
In my studies, I have been blessed to be able to dig a little deeper into many topics. The most enjoyable for me up to this point has been the opportunity to learn more about the early church, where it came from, how it grew and how it got to where we are today. I find it fascinating, especially the growth through persecution and exile. God used these events to further His Kingdom. Amazing!
Hearing the various stories of young children here in Guatemala never ceases to break your heart. When you thought things couldn't get any worse, you hear a young child's story that digs the hole of pain in your heart a little deeper.
Children, persecuted for being children. Abused and neglected because of who they are.
Innocent and unknowing.
Our call as Christians is to ultimately be in an unending, beautiful, intimate relationship with God. This call looks different for everyone. What shouldn't look different, is the result of that relationship. It should result in mission.
Just like relationship, mission looks different to everyone. What shouldn't look different, however, is the purpose of the mission.
Orphan Care is an extremely common mission in Guatemala. We see entire ministries founded on the principle of children being fed healthy meals, or family style orphanages. We see calls of action to the Church, telling them that they are the answer, we can end this problem before it gets any worse. I am guilty of these calls to action. What I am also guilty of is not telling people why they are called to action.
We care for the orphan because Christ cared for us when we were orphans--yes, we do. But that is not the primary reason. We care for the orphan to be a testimony of who Christ is.
We care for the orphan to grow the Church.
When Christians "were all scattered throughout Judea and Samaria" (Acts 8:1), they went out "speaking the Word to none except Jews." Christians began living a simple life of love and mission amongst one another. Helping each other, and allowing their lives to be a witness of who Christ was.
AND IT SPREAD LIKE WILDFIRE. THE CHURCH BEGAN TO GROW RAPIDLY.
We are called to speak with boldness, but words without action are hypocritical and often more harmful than good. We are called to do good, but doing good without words is borderline charity.
When we care for the orphan, our primary mission should not be feeding, providing shelter, or providing a family (all good things). Our primary mission should be to grow the church through the goodness, love, mercy, grace, and TESTIMONY of who Christ is.
To Him be the glory.
Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash
I spoke on the phone with a family from our church earlier this week. She sounded terrified, and with a quivering voice said, “Of course we said yes. We couldn’t say no. It’s not like we had a choice. These are not objects, they are children, you don’t get to pick and choose”. This family just recently finished their government certification to become a foster family. They are now just one of a small handful of certified foster families in the entire country. In a few weeks they receive siblings. Ages 4 and 1. I remember first meeting them, there was a mixture of excitement, nervousness, and trying to get on the same page. At that point, less than a year ago, this was all just idea and perhaps even fantasy. Over the past year, I have been privileged to watch them go from high to low to I don’t know, and back again. All the while, I watched from afar as some of our greatest friends back in the United States completed an adoption through foster care that they have been fighting for since the day little one came into their home. Thousands of tears were shed. But those tears of journey have turned to tears of celebration, as family completion has taken place. I sit in my place, whether that be the couch, my cheap taped together office chair, or the bed beside my sleeping, pregnant wife. The joy. The joy is some weird mix of hurt and I don’t care about anything else but what just happened. The hurt is because this feels awkwardly like it should be completely unnecessary. The I don’t care because time stops as you watch this happen. As you hear these words. Nothing matters more than this moment.