Friday, December 30, 2011

All I Need to Know I learned From My Children

I have never been a fan of the latest trend. I always look for what is quietly finding its way along the outskirts of the crowd. I search for meaning and I tend to overthink most things.  I have commonly heard the phrase, live simply so that others may simply live, and a part of me automatically rejects it as trite.

But my world-view was rocked when I encountered people who had been handed a life of poverty through no fault of their own, and yet they carried a better attitude and outlook on life than I had ever held. After a third-world experience... I pulled my car into my garage and hit the button for the door to automatically close behind me with a much different perspective.

I am a Christian who judges without fear. I have been judged, and I will be again... and again. And yet, I believe that discernment is part of the wisdom of fearing God. I am not without fault, and I realize that the life I live and the belongings I retain are a simple indictment of how my faith reconciles with my belief. I welcome the judgement of God and I fall on His mercy. I realize that forgiveness and grace carry much more weight.

And so... I found myself beside my wife last night, again making efforts to simply live.

We are methodically going through our belongings. We started with the farthest room on the uppermost floor of our home. And on this night... we came to our children's rooms.

Have you ever just flopped down in your kid's bed and tried to look at the room as seen by young eyes? My eyes scanned over so many stories that were embedded into toys. I saw the dinosaur that Caleb carried for years, the shells from our vacation to the beach, the certificate from his Taekwondo test, the car from his derby... hundreds of items and each one has a story that is dear to my heart...

...and his as well. I realize that this room has surrounded him with memories that remind him that he is loved, and that he is never alone. And I look at the empty bags that we have to fill. We have to separate his belongings into categories: what is precious and must be kept, what can be donated to Guatemalan children, what can be donated to local charities, what can be sold, and what simply should be discarded.

I was so distraught that he would be devastated with these choices. He and his sister, like us, will have to let go of the majority of their belongings... and it is important that we approach this with the right spirit. We want them to focus not on what they are giving up, but rather on what can help others, and how we can reach our calling. 

How do you explain to an 11 year old and an 8 year old that we can no longer keep every piece of artwork and every story scribbled on a notepad (my kids are prolific readers and rabid writers... don't know where they got that). I felt my own heart grieve as toys that they have held for years now went into boxes and bags and the memories tied to those objects flashed across my mind.

And then I saw the expressions on the faces of my children and I sat in total respect for them as I slowly realized that their perspective was fixed on what mattered. They freely were giving up their loved toys and were talking to each other about the difference that it might make in the lives of others.

I am still reeling from this incredible affirmation and lesson that God sent to me through the open eyes of my children. They understand what we are asking them to do. To walk away from their home, their friends, and most of what they possess. We do this to go to a place that they have yet to see... but they have heard the cry of our hearts.

The faith of a child. It is strong. The strongest I have ever encountered.

We have 40 days before we bring home our daughter Sterling from China. 40 days to thin out all that we must. Once we bring her home, the pace accelerates. And we will be prepared as best we know to be. As for the rest... well, here is where I am living:

 7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 

10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do:

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
-Philippians 3

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