Today was the biggest dose of reality I have had in a LONG time.
Like, knock me off my feet, leave me speechless, reality. (okay, so I've never REALLY been speechless, but it messed with me.)
A year ago, I stepped off a plane in Africa and for the first time in my life came face to face with gut-wrenching poverty, abuse, and neglect. It had only in in pictures before, and there it was in front of me now, hitting me hard, challenging me to do more, be a better servant, live life more fully for HIS glory. As crazy as it sounds, it also taught me what it really means to have joy. I had never experienced so much joy as I did in Uganda and Ethiopia.
And, as expected, our trip last month resurfaced a lot of those same feelings. While it was just as difficult to experience such harsh situations of conditions and treatment FAR below what we Americans consider acceptable, there was always that thought, however nonsensical and irrelevent, that well, it is Africa and there are a whole spectrum of cultural and societal norms that we don't get here. I don't in anyway mean to "lighten" the brevity of what happens there, or to say that it is acceptable. Human life should be valued equally by Christ followers, no matter where a person is on this planet.
What I mean is, we all know there are drought and AIDS and disease and child neglect and sexual abuse in Africa. And I will tell you that knowing those in advance STILL don't prepare you for being there in the midst of it. And again, there was so much joy. But today...
today was a whole different ballgame.
Today, while Jack and Clara colored pictures at my feet, I sat down in a small DHS office and read through over 65 profiles of children needing adoptive placement in our state. And one by one, their stories poured over me and again and again I winced at the details of what many had endured in their short lives. Parents who were so hooked on meth they forgot to feed their children, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and on and on, ad nauseum.
By the time I finished reviewing the files and selecting which children I thought we wanted to be considered as a family for, two hours had passed and I was drained. Exhausted. And confused.
And then it hit me why. I wasn't naive about this process. I knew all along that we weren't going into this to end up getting the gerber baby born to a perfect mom. Those kids aren't in foster care. But, just like Africa, knowing something in theory and experiencing it are VERY different. And today, as I read about these precious children, I experienced it.
It hit home that we ALL, even us New American Standard-totin', smack-dab-in-the-middle-of-Bible-bel-livin', southern-gospel-lovin' Okies are part of a fallen, sin-ridden world. It's not just in Africa and far-off places that babies starve every night. It is in Oklahoma, America. And all 49 of the rest of these Great United States. It is right across town, and even down the street from our churches. And I didn't like it one little bit that it took me going across the globe to realize this. To REALLY get it.
I was asked today if, as I was reading about the kids, I had wished I could take them all. Nope.
Never once crossed my mind. I know I am not the right mom for all of them...
But someone is.
And until she "gets it" and steps forward, I remind myself that just as in Uganda, God is holding each of these children in his hands and cares just as much for them as he does for me. He will never leave them or forsake them, and he will walk beside them through ANY trials they encounter. and He WILL restore their souls. He is their savior, their redeemer and their friend. And most importantly, HE is their FATHER.