On Saturday one of the priests at our church received a call from woman that she knows who had come to the heartbreaking decision that she was no longer able to care for and support her 15 month old twin children. Her home was unfit for habitation, her water and electricity had been shut off for over a month, and she was just unable to provide what these children needed. So she made the best (and most difficult) decision possible and allowed her children to go into the care of someone else. On Saturday night they stayed with a family from our church.
We learned of the situation on Sunday and in order to assist we collected some of the clothes that Peanut had outgrown and found some of Bubba’s toddler clothes in the garage and took them over to the family that was fostering them, along with some toys and a spare high-chair. We felt good that we had been able to help these precious children who were in desperate need of some compassion.
On Monday morning, we received an email from the Children’s Minister at our church that the family that had taken the babies over the weekend were unable to keep them for an extended period of time and so other accommodations were needed ASAP. And Wifey felt a stirring to take them into our home.
I said no. We already have 4 children and barely manage to keep our sanity as it is. Nor do we have a vehicle large enough to transport 6 children, all of whom are in car seats. And, to be perfectly honest, it is my Spring Break and I’ve been looking forward to some down time before a hellish couple of weeks when I go back. Plus, we’d promised to have a great week with the kids taking day trips and doing a lot of fun activities which we couldn’t do if the twins came to stay. It just seemed really inconvenient and impractical and I didn’t want to do it.
Wifey graciously accepted my decision. If we were going to do it we both had to be on board. And she agreed with all of my reasons. But I could tell that she wasn’t convinced, and the more I thought about it, the more unsettled I became. What if they couldn’t find another home and they had to be moved day to day? Those kids didn’t need that after the trauma that they were already experiencing. And we were certainly already equipped with almost everything we needed to care for toddlers and what we didn’t have the church would provide. And it seems selfish to not be willing to help so that I can take more naps. My one hold-out was our promise to the kids. So I decided to leave it up to them. I explained the situation, making sure they understood what they would be giving up, and gave them a few minutes to think about it. They seemed to be struggling with some of the same reservations and feelings that we were. They wanted to help out, but were they willing to sacrifice this special week? Finally, we asked for their decision and they both emphatically said that they wanted to help the twins. I was so moved by their generosity, and so proud!
But I was still unwilling to fully commit. So we offered to take them as the option of last resort. If NO ONE else was willing or able, we would take them. We furiously cleaned the house in the off-chance that they were coming, and as we readied our home, both Wifey and I became more and more compelled to just take the plunge. When we finished up, we called the church to check the status of volunteers. There were several families that were able to help for a few days, but no one who could take them long-term. That decided it. We wanted them to come live with us until a permanent home could be found. Sure it would take some sacrifice and quite a bit of rearranging, but we knew it was the right thing to do. So an hour later we opened the door to two of the most beautiful, precious and sweet children that you could imagine (we’ll call them Apollo and Artemis). And despite a night of little sleep and overall controlled chaos, I know we are blessed to have been chosen for this task.
Naturally, since making the decision, we have been inundated with praise about how wonderful and brave we are and have even been called saintly. But it makes me uncomfortable that people react in this way. Perhaps for the non-religious, such an act does seem to be saintly. We are putting ourselves at great inconvenience for some kids we’ve never met and for absolutely no personal gain…other than warm fuzzy feelings that is. But we don’t see it that way. When we were struggling to decide whether or not to open our home, what kept nagging at us was this verse “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27). The Bible is full of calls to care for orphans and makes it a top priority for every Christian. So it isn’t really because we’re so saintly that we do this. It is because we are called to do it specifically by God. We’re not saints, we’re just Christians. Regular people following the example of Christ.
Last night our priest stopped by to drop off some final supplies, and before leaving she said that we were role models. Now THAT is a label I’m willing to accept. I pray that by our actions we can inspire others to give more deeply of themselves in service of others, following the example of Christ. I am inspired by my children who were so willing to sacrifice of themselves, and I am proud to set the example for them that even when difficult, it is paramount to assist those in greater need. I think that more Christians need to be willing to give what they have and beyond with the faith that God will support those that follow his commands.
A saint is someone who rises to the top among his or her peers by going above and beyond in service to God. I pray that by our actions we are NOT saints, but that we fit into the crowd of other Christians who are all doing the same.