There are two things in the Christian life that are 100 times easier to say than do: loving and forgiving others.
Even though God is all about love, and we are the recipients of that extravagant love, why is it so hard to love or forgive some people?
I've got a devotion running on Proverbs 31 and Crosswalk.com today about loving well. Any time I write about the importance of loving others, it seem God tests me on it. In fact, this seems to be one of the most common tests of my life. God doesn't want me writing from a place of ease, but from a place of battle experience, And this thing of loving and forgiving others feels like a battle at times.
Getting along with people isn't my issue. I get along with most everyone. But that doesn't seem to be enough for God. In fact, He's always pushing me past superficiality. Actually, God cares so much about how I love others, that He has put a very difficult person to love in the middle of my life: my daughter.
This isn't something I write about often, partly because I don't want her to know the depth of my struggle. But the Lord is prompting me to be vulnerable here. So, I will leave this post up for a little while, then delete it so she never accidentally reads it years from now. And trust God with this one. So here's what you don't see from reading my blog.
Five years ago, we adopted two little girls from Africa. My husband and I clearly heard God's call to bring these beautiful children out of war-torn Liberia and into our home. Our three boys were fully on board, and we started this journey with high hopes. It didn't take long for the "honeymoon" to end. At ages 8 and 10, our daughters were already damaged by their early lives.
Our oldest one, Cathrine, has cognitive damage, and will never catch up to girls her age. We don't know what her future holds. Our youngest has emotional damage, which is actually more difficult to deal with. It's this daughter who presents the daily challenge for me. You see, because of early abandonment, my daughter doesn't trust adults. This leads her to constantly choose her way over an adult's way, which manifests itself in lying, sneaking and generally betraying trust - daily. Her responses are irrational, and her thought processes unhealthy.
Mentally I understand and have compassion. We are in therapy now, and are learning how to parent a child with what is called Reactive Attachment Disorder. Emotionally, I struggle. At times it feels like God plopped an enemy in the middle of my camp. It's hard to sacrifice so much of your life for a child who offers back rejection and deception. It's painful to see what it does to our entire family - and I balance feelings of protectiveness for everyone else There have been many days when I've cried, "Why did you do this to me? Haven't I served you faithfully? Why didn't I get an easier assignment???"
That's when I realize I've got things mixed up. God didn't do anything to me. Instead, God entrusted me with two broken children who need love and care. And it wasn't a random selection - it was intentional. My strong-willed little girl could have steam-rolled over lots of other women. But she met a brick wall in her mama.
Every day I stand with my feet firmly planted and choose to believe God's truth over my own emotional responses. And I make a choice to love a little girl who is hard to love. But I'll be honest ... my emotions don't always match my decision. I don't feel "loving" at times. But I will not let my negative emotions dictate my choices - especially when they would lead me into a life not blessed by God.
I've got a long way to go in learning how to love those who are hard to love. I'm in full battle mode. Please don't think I've got this figured out. There are days I go to bed berating myself for how I reacted to her. That's when I confess it all to God, every ugly thought, and ask for forgiveness, and plead for His help to love one who is hard to love.
So, now you know one of my biggest struggles. Can you be just as vulnerable? Are you dealing with someone who is hard to love? Or, have you learned some things that could help the rest of us? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
In His Love,