My Dear Firstborn Son,
I want to be like you when I grow up. You have not even reached the milestone of three years yet, but you have done and given up more to help the broken than most do in their whole lives. You were only eight months old when Mommy and Daddy began the journey of becoming missionaries in Guatemala. We spent that next year in meetings, speaking in churches, and raising support to do what God had called us to do. You happily joined as we brought you along for yet another long day in the car, another sleepless night in yet another hotel room, and another fast food meal. You gladly greeted one more stranger, sat through one more meeting, and happily went in one more new church nursery. You became accustomed to living out of a suitcase and knew every word to the Hillsong Kids C.D. that we played in the car.
Then, the big day came. At only 18 months, we ripped you from everything you knew and loved. We began life in a new country, with a new language, at a new church, with new friends that became our family. You slept in a pack and play for months, only playing with the toys that Mommy could fit in a gallon sized Ziplock bag, waiting on our container to arrive as it was delayed at sea due to hurricane season. Once again, you took it in stride. Life was lonely for you there as you only had one friend your age, but you never complained. You went everywhere with us because we had no babysitter: dates, meetings, and doctor appointments, often watching T.V. on one of our phones to keep you entertained. We know it was hard and often didn’t make sense, but you did it anyway.
Life changed again when we brought your brother, your lifelong friend, into the world. It was an adjustment like it is for all kids, to add another human to our tribe, but man you loved him fiercely from the start. I will never be able to grasp what must have been running through your mind when you had to watch Mommy and him fly away on an airplane only being told that he was very sick and Mommy was taking him to the States get help. I know you must have felt scared. I know you must have felt alone. But you were so strong my sweet boy. After you and Daddy joined us back in the States you took on a role as your brother’s protector, never letting a stranger within arms reach of him. See, you didn’t understand everything that had happened with your brother, but you knew he needed protection. This life of serving the broken had threatened to take that most valuable to you, your brother, away.
As your brother got a diagnosis of High Altitude Pulmonary Edema, and we were faced with the hard decision to move back home to the States on a more permanent basis, the world was confusing for you again. Daddy was gone more than we wanted to try and tie up loose ends in Guatemala, and you missed him deeply. You wanted to go home– to the home that you remembered, the home that had your toys. You wanted to go back to Guatemala and didn’t understand why we couldn’t return there. Why didn’t you get the chance to say goodbye to the place you knew as home?
You, my little love, have paid a high price to love the fatherless. You have sacrificed so much. I know it has caused you deep pain– pain that a two-year-old should never experience.
So, the other day when I introduced the concept of foster care to you, I didn’t know how you would respond. You had every right to tell me no. You had every right to say that you didn’t want to help anyone else. You could have said that you have already sacrificed enough. You could have said that you didn’t want to share your toys or your house, and especially not your Mommy and Daddy, but you didn’t. Your heart was moved with compassion in a way that I have never seen. You said, “Mommy we have to help the boys and girls. They need us, Mommy. That’s so sad Mommy. Please, can we help them, Mommy?” And you didn’t just say it once, you kept asking to help them. You kept asking to feed children that didn’t have food. It became your new passion, and you looked at every child we saw in the grocery store with new eyes, asking if they needed help too.
My dear son, you have every right for your heart to be hardened, but instead, it just keeps softening with compassion. I have a lot to learn from you, sweet boy. You just keep saying yes, even when you have every right to say no. I can’t wait to see how God uses you to love the children that He will one day bring into our home. I can’t wait to see how this compassion will be what moves you to change the world for Jesus one day. Keep saying yes, my sweet boy. You get it.