I still have kids at home. My job is not done.
However, I have raised them from infants into the teenage/adult realm. I have learned a few things. Actually, I've learned a lot over the last few years.
And here at the resort, I've been observing a particular situation. It has really made me think. In fact, I've woken up in the middle of the night thinking about this, so thought I'd share.
Every morning at volleyball, there is an old lady that sits on the sidelines and watches. Her name is Dora Jean. She is a tiny little thing. She wears special orthopedic shoes that have big openings on the sides and her always-socked feet stick out the side. All her clothes are big and baggy (she's lost 46 lbs in the last several months) and they are the type that the shirt and shorts are always the same fabric. She has the oddest haircut; kind of a page-boy type cut. Dora Jean is our self-appointed ball girl. Whenever a ball is hit out of the water, she scuttles over to retrieve it for us. It is pretty obvious that she is mentally impaired. But she's so funny! She pops off with the most random comments and loves to rag on the players. Of course, the players give it back to her, too. It's kind of hard to understand her because she doesn't have a tooth in her head. Her words are a little mushy, but fortunately, she always says things at a high volume.
I've noticed several times that Bernice will go to the edge of the pool and check on Dora Jean. Ask her if she's doing ok, if she's having a good time, etc. Dora Jean will yell back in her mush-mouth way, "I think I'm going to the toilet. My tummy doesn't feel too good." And off she'll scuttle like a bent over little thing on a mission.
Or, "Doing good. You people are crazy! When's lunch?"
I thought it was sweet of Bernice to be so nice and friendly to Dora Jean.
Yesterday, I had my eyes opened and my brain and heart challenged.
Bernice did a bad hit and her side lost the ball. Dora Jean stood up and yelled, "What are you DOING, Mommy?" Then she cackled and shook her head in a you-guys-are-hopeless sort of way.
I believe I was guilty of standing there with my mouth open in surprise for longer than I should have. I asked Bernice if Dora Jean was her daughter and she said, "Oh yes. She's 69."
My brain started scrambling to do the math on how old that would make Bernice. 89? 90?
At the end of our game, as everyone was getting out and heading home, I noticed Dora Jean standing waiting for her mom and holding her robe for her. They said good-bye and they'd see us next time.
I hung around to talk with some of the ladies. They told me that Dora Jean was born mentally retarded and has had lots of health issues. Bernice and her husband were told when Dora Jean was a baby that they should just put her away in a home - she would never be normal, and she probably wouldn't live very long anyway.
Bernice told them, "In a pig's eye!"
They took her home, and for 69 years, they've taken care of her. She's been totally dependent on them in every way.
My respect for Bernice went way up.
I've pondered this over and over. I'm amazed and blessed by one simple thing: the love Bernice has for her daughter and how no challenge has ever changed that.
I have to ask myself this question: Do I love my kids like that? Like, "No matter what, I'll always love you?" Even when they're old and grey? When they can no longer care for themselves? When they've done something stupid? When they've gone against what we've taught them?
Bernice is such an example to me of the love a parent has for their child. And how it should be the same love that Christ has for us - unconditional. Nothing can separate us from the love of God; nothing. Yet how quick we are sometimes to separate ourselves from our children (or at least yank the rug of love out from under them) whenever they do something we don't like, don't agree with, or we feel is downright wrong.
But it's at these times that our children may need us and our never-ending love and approval the most!
I'm not talking about condoning un-Godly activity. I'm not talking about supporting someone in their sin. I'm talking about loving them anyway. Loving them through it. Being there for them to lean on; to come home to; and in some cases, to pick up the pieces.
I can say this. I have been here.
The peace that comes from loving our children the way God instructed us; loving them (to the best of our human ability) the way God loves us - is definitely a peace that surpasses all understanding. It is a peace that only Jesus Christ can give.
I can love. I can do my best to be an example to my children. And I can leave the outcome with God. He's got it!
May we all encourage each other to love our children (and others) from our hearts as God leads us. Not from a set of rules; not as someone else feels we should love them. It is only by following our own individual paths that God is leading us down; by allowing Him to guide us, that we have true peace, victory, and growth.
I love my kids! Angi,
I thank God for these 4 beautiful children, and look forward to continuing to live life with them!