I had one of those great mama ideas. The kind you are certain will be a life altering moment in your children’s lives. The one they will look back on and comment reverently “that was the instant my entire perspective changed forever. Thanks mom!” Because that’s how those ideas always turn out. Right?
It began with a Facebook ad that mentioned the Compassion Experience was coming to our community. An interactive walk thru village for families to experience firsthand the poverty impacting children all over the world.
Nothing bothers me more than to hear my children say “I need……” because between the lawn strewn with an abundance of sports equipment, shelves overflowing with colorful, plastic crap and drawers stuffed with clothing, there is not a “need” in sight.
I sprang the news of our field trip to this event on my unsuspecting offspring. Shockingly, some were more enthused than others. The teen rolled his eyes.
“I have to come?”
“Yep,” I replied firmly, although I bribed him with shopping for some shirts he wanted at the mall, certain that once he walked through the exhibit he would turn to me, tears in his eyes and say “mom, I don’t need anything.” We’d embrace. The others would come rushing in to join the hug. It would be a beautiful, Norman Rockwell worthy moment.
Instead, here’s what really happened.
We arrived at the site and each were handed an ipod to narrate our tour. I watched my kids’ faces as they heard about children their age and the struggles they faced daily. I could tell each one was definitely beginning to see that the challenge of being the last of the four to the breakfast table to find the coveted box of Lucky Charms empty, paled in comparison to the trials these children endured.
I smiled smugly to myself. Who’s winning this mom thing? Oh yeah. I sang in my head. Me! I may have even added a little pop and lock dance move for effect. And that was my fatal error.
Never, and I repeat, never, sing a cocky “greatest mom” lyric with spontaneous choreography because karma will take you out.
The tour ended and we arrived in a room covered from floor to ceiling with photos of children from different countries. I instantly knew the perfect way to drive this lesson home would be to have my kids pick a child to sponsor.
There was a deadlock when it came to gender selection but because I knew my daughters would be more inclined to write letters, I gave them the edge and we chose a girl.
The attendant handed me the paperwork and I sauntered over to the counter to fill in the blanks, still filled with mama swagger.
A wail erupted behind me. Whose unruly child is that? I thought without looking. The cry increased to full on tantrum. I turned.
The swag turned to sweat. It was mine.
The five year old stood in the middle of the room sobbing. Hysterically.
“No, no, no…” he cried, snot flowing freely from his red, scrunched up face. “I don’t want a girl. We need a boy. PLEEEEASE mom…..PLEEEEASEE.”
“Stop…it…now!” I hissed. Which always works…..never.
The attendant looked distressed, unsure what to do.
My teen looked at me pointedly and said, “This was a great idea.” The “great” seemed a tad sarcastic…..
I scribbled angrily, my mom of the year badge lying tarnished on the floor.
The five year old would not let up. “Not a giiiirrrrrlllll. We need a boooyy….”
The attendant shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot. The teen continued to stare with smug conviction.
I reached my tipping point, grabbed the papers and shoved them into my purse.
“Just feel free to mail those in,” the attendant said with obvious relief.
“I will,” I replied curtly while grabbing the five year old and herding everyone quickly out the door.
We climbed into the car and sat. I drew in deep breaths. The teen snorted in amusement. The five year old snuffled and heaved.
From the back of the van I heard his voice quiver.
“When is she coming?”
I looked into the rear view mirror and connected with red rimmed eyes.
“Who,” I snapped back a little too forcefully.
“The girl,” he cried sorrowfully. “The one that is coming to live with us.”
And suddenly it all fell into place. This child who gamely tolerates two older sisters who dress him up, paint his nails and always decide what games are played, had mistakenly thought we were choosing another girl to add to the mix.
“Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”
1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT
Wow – can I relate. Sometimes when I see the partial and incomplete version of what God is doing in my life, the darkness and confusion, I am like my five year old. Wailing. Sobbing. Crying out “noooooooo, why is this happening!”
And yet when we trust in the One who sees the plan with clarity. Who walks us past the distorted reflection. We eventually push through to the other side of uncloudy grace, fullness and completion.
I tried to clear up my five year old’s misconception but couldn’t get past the laughter that bubbled out of my mouth and swept through the car.
The teen even managed a brief grin and shake of his head before recovering quickly and deadpanning “that’s a smart one you got there, mom.”
And I dissolved into giggles, thankful for sun through clouds and Someone who knows the plan beyond my imperfect view.
Mamas, if you are looking for something to powerful to take your kiddos to, I highly recommend the Compassion Experience! Click here for more details.