Saturday, April 20, 2013

Caring for Other People's Children

I hear the same sentence over and over again..although, most people don't quite have the guts to say it to my face considering I have two children who were once "other people's children".  People say it with their eyes. They tend to look down, or look away, or just glaze over when I begin to talk about caring for "other people's children".

That sentiment is exactly what we do in Safe Families for Children.  We CARE for...and about...a child that did not come from our bodies.

Pause here for a minute - this reminds me of a new pet peeve for Joe and I.  The term "biological children" is always used to describe Eleanor, Harry, Isabel and Lincoln....but not George and Anna.  So, does that mean they are not biological?  The dictionary defines "biological" as relating to biology or living organisms.  So, how exactly are George and Anna NOT biological?

In our world, we are so quick to define things or feelings or even people.  So suddenly children are biological - or non-biological.  They are either my children or someone else's children.  They are no longer just children who need and deserve to be loved.  If they are not MY children...are you actually asking me to care for another person's child?

To that question, I answer NO.

Well..sorta.

Maybe it's YES.

The problem comes from the mind set that these over here are MY children and I will lavish them with whatever they need.  But those children across the street, who are hungry and neglected, well, they are someone else's children so I don't need to care for them.  

Even if that means NO ONE cares for them.  I don't have to care for them because they are someone else's children.

See what I mean?

And if we were being honest, we would all probably nod our heads and say, 'Yup."

But if I asked you WHY you don't want to...or won't...or cant'...care for other people's children, what would your answer be?

"It's too hard."

"I can't love a child for months and then just give them back to their parents."

"My life is too complicated right now."

"We are too busy."

It really comes down to those 4 answers that I hear over and over again.  So I am going to guess those are indicative of most people who say no or look away.  

Now, I ask you , what is at the core of each of those answers.  Or maybe, better put, WHO is at the core of those answers.

Is it the child?

Is it the child who needs to be cared for?  Does that child factor in any way into those answers?  Even the answer about loving the child but them giving them back has SELF at the core - would it be hard for the child to be loved and then go back to love their parent?  NO....who is it hard for?

When we live in a society where children are viewed as YOURS or MINE or THEIRS, we fail to see that we - especially we as believers - have a duty to care for ALL children.  We have gone so far away from the early church that rushed outside the walls of Jerusalem to rescue the orphaned children who were cast out.  We have strayed from the days when neighbors truly looked after their neighbor's little ones - even when it was inconvenient or messy.  We have left the table completely in the areas of abuse and neglect...not wanting to touch THAT mess with the proverbial 10 foot pole.  

And I try to convince you that children are ALL our business.  

I have a lot to sort out about this.  I am not even sure how to convince the Church to care for other people's children.  I think the Church does a decent job of caring for the Church's children....but what about the widow I just met?  No one saw her struggling with 4 little ones when her husband left her.  No one helped for 2 years when she didn't have enough money to pay the electric bill - she slept huddled on the floor with her 4 little ones pulled close next to her with every blanket and every spare piece of clothing laying on the bed.  And when it was one of those unbearable southern nights, she would take her kids to the W*lMart parking lot, roll the widows down and pray for a breeze and sing her kids to sleep - whatever kind of sleep they could manage in a car in a W*lMart parking lot.  No one saw those children and thought it was worth caring for them.

So...where are they now?

One is a run-away.

One is an unmarried mother addicted to meth.

One is an abusive boyfriend to an alcoholic girlfriend with a new baby.

And one is dead.

That is my reality now.  I meet these women, these modern day widows and I cry with her and I pray with her and I tell her that God loves her.  She asks me, "Where were you when I needed someone to help me care for my children?"

Sadly, I can't answer that.


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