If these boots could talk...what would they say? Would they share the story of the miles and miles of ground that they covered, or would they share the story of the boy who's feet were inside of them? Would they share of their wear and tear and reason for the glue that keeps them together or would they share of the boy who's journey they were part of and his struggles to keep it together? Would share the pain of the journey or the joy of arrival?
These boots came back from a 19 month tour with Bashful, from an outdoor facility for young men with struggles. Boys that struggle with respect, relationships, authority, processing skills, anger issues, just to name a few. When these boots left for camp with the dwarf, they were brand new. Ready for the challenges ahead. Bashful left home with a renewed purpose, and a plan. The miles that these boots carried Bashful in his 19 months away are unfathomable, too many to track or count. Just like the measure of his time away escapes us in many ways. Oh sure, there are some tangible ways that we can see he has grown and matured. But at the end of it all, he did not graduate, he did not complete the course before him.
These boots are a good reminder to us all that the journey of life is long and hard and it often times leaves us battered and bruised. Clearly we can see these boots are held together by glue and duct tape (actually you can't see that in the photo, duct tape is holding the tongue together inside) and yet the things that hold us as people together in this journey are not so visible to the casual observer. In light of this dwarfs sudden and unplanned return to the kingdom, I am not going to lie, I am full of questions. As well as a bit of anger, well more like strong aggravation and irritation. Why, when we answered the call of the Lord, and are following a biblical mandate to care for the orphans, has this become so hard?
The struggle is real. The dwarf is returned to our home, and the 19 months of intervention has done little for his over all growth and change. He went in angry and violent and has been returned to us in the same fashion. While physically he is taller, weightier, and stronger I can't say this is true for his mental or spiritual appearance. His struggles are obvious, in daily life you can see it in his face as he wrestles with himself to do the right thing (which does not come naturally) and to make the good choice. This continued effort on his part is labor intensive and exhausting to him and to those that care for him. The bad choices almost always leads to consequences, and still after years of said consequences, he is still unable to make the good decision on a regular and consistent basis. His life for 13 years has been filled with great external joys and blessings, but most times even these are times filled with great anxiety for him and our family. For 13 years, I would like to think that the Prince and I have modeled for our dwarfs a great work ethic, a sound religious base, a model of how to be healthy mentally, spiritually and physically. Yet none of this has yet to resound with him. Hence where my frustration lies. How long will this journey be? I am weary. I am broken. I am angry. I am frustrated.
Yet in the review of the actual scripture passage, I find that I may be missing a vital piece of the instruction:
"Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this; to care for the orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27
Have I been polluted by the world. Have I allowed the world to dictate to me what success looks like, or what the world expects the product or outcome of our adoption of special needs kids will look like? Have I allowed my own frustration to overtake my common sense? Bashful is broken. (Regardless of if he will ever admit it.) He has real struggles. Am I looking for a quick fix when there is none? The world is full of quick fixes.
If I acknowledge that God does not make mistakes (a phrase I repeat to my kids all the time) am I just repeating a trite phrase or do I really believe it myself? It has become even more clear to me in the last week, that the Lord is not finished refining me. That in the midst of these struggles and difficult times I am standing in the gap for the orphan(s) that were and are still in many regards in distress. At no point in this process did God call me to fix them. Just love them unconditionally. Even if they do not want that love, and especially when I feel like they do not deserve it. It is at that time when I think about how God loves me, and more so, when I do not deserve it, because He calls me back to Him.
Never once does the Bible offer us a promise of ease when we follow the Lord in service. The problem is that when I remove my eyes from the Lord, I allow myself to be polluted by the world. My circumstance have not changed. But my view of them does. I see others living a life that seems so care free and easy, whom can not fathom the depth of my situation, and I feel resentment, yet God has not left me with needs. I hear others proclaiming the successes of their children and I fall into distress not being able to articulate my dwarfs success, yet they are there. I just need to remember that while they are different they are still successes for them. I often feel alone, and in that God will send to me a friend, that is in the same situation, and our faith can grow and we can encourage one another in a time of need. Wishing and hoping that my circumstance were different only sets me up to be discontent, overwhelmed, distressed and discouraged. I am grateful for the promises in His word that bring me back to center, and grounds me so that I can continue to minister to the needs of my family. No, the journey is not easy. Being called to serve is not for the faint of heart. Often we are asked in our service to do hard things. Things that others can not understand. God has gifted us each uniquely. What He has called us to, He equips us for. Our responsibility is to keep our focus on him and not to be polluted by the world.
You Can't Make this Stuff Up