For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. 1 Corinthians 3:19
I complain a lot on this blog (and even more in real life) and I know it's awful, but I need to offload somewhere and in the absence of counselors in Vinnitsa the internet will have to do. Seems a logical choice.
We seem to be in a season - Jesus Jargon that means 'phase' but Christians can't say phase because that sounds flippant and we're always trying to be deep. When I was a teenager I went through a season of rollerblading. See how much more profound that sounds? - of stupid, stupid, stupid life. SO STUPID.
Everything going wrong, from trivial stuff like the lada breaking down when I'm meant to be showing my friends the heady delights of Vinnitsa, of which there are none, and then B deciding she needed to wee herself and legging it through wind and rain around trying to source a toilet that would take pity on a three year old wailing for an opportunity to urinate. Small things like that. Getting home to find a teenager has broken curfew again despite the butt kicking you attempted, in your apparently ineffectual way, the night before. The night before. COME ON. Whilst posting pseudo sexual and disturbing photos of herself on instagram. Which you come across when you're meant to be participating in a team meeting but that's hard because the baby likes to chew your face and shriek for bananas if you're not permanently making eye contact and cooing softly whilst gently massaging his feet and proffering snacks. Little poppet (despot).
Little things like that. Like never knowing where the sodding tin opener is because there are so many people in the house that isn't my house that we have never reached a consensus re the proper stowage of domestic items. I actually spend 33% of my time running about demanding that people tell me where the hell they PUT MY STUFF. While trying to cook dinner for eight people. With said little angel shouting at me for MILK and the toddler casually dismantling everything I thought I'd tidied earlier.
Small things. Silly things.
These things add up and don't get me wrong, they really do add up and I am currently a terrible and previously never seen version of myself - angry and tense and defensive and generally rancid with panic.
But the stress and the running about trying to survive is normal mummy/ missionary/ working parent/ human being stuff.
There's a bigger and a more hurty thing going on though that I'd like to process with you. It's a bit embarrassing.
You see, I'm loving some people who don't love me back.
I'm giving my heart, my stupid soft heart, to some teenage girls who don't know what to do with it and if they ever put out their hands to receive it they'd still look at me blankly, bewildered, not knowing what they're supposed to do next. Just standing there holding my fears and hopes and time and tears and gifts and efforts, looking a bit confused, and then they'd drop it in a bin and wander off to take a selfie next to something shiny.
Doing T Home hurts.
Doing work with kids from orphanages hurts.
It's probably no surprise to you that these young people are not entirely pleasant most of the time, that we spend all our emotional energy on frantically maintaining a positive family atmosphere, diffusing tensions and language barriers and culture clashes and maintaining house rules but as gently as possible and never, ever losing it like we want to. And sometimes we really, really want to.
This week we had a situation where someone's behaviour had been so disrespectful and destructive that we had to do an ultimatum of 'if you can't stop such and such then you can't live with us'. Much more nicely worded because we want to avoid causing hurt as much as we possibly can. But still. Everything we've worked to build within a conversation's breath, the width of a biro line, of crashing down around us. The space of a sorry. Or of a screw you. The length of that pause, that choice, the suspense, the breath before the sorry that made it all ok and the cuddle and the gasp of oh thank you, oh thank you God.
But to stare down the barrel of losing one of our girls? Of watching her jack it all in, choose stupid friends and stupid things and a car crash life because for these girls it really is that black and white - choose life or choose death, choose to try to absorb boundaries and family, to live like someone who can love and be loved, or to walk away and choose the destiny of your peers, the girls that can't find their way because they have never been shown how and you can follow them down that alley or you can stay here and run after a hope you don't even yet fully fathom but it looks better than suicide or drugs or crime or sex industry?
When you love someone and you have to stand back. When you have to take that stab to the gut of realizing that they're not going to listen to you. That your wisdom is stupidity to them. That you're the idiot bankrolling their folly. That you could give and give and give but you can never coerce them into an abundant life, that they will take all you can give and more and could still end up on the rubbish dump of life,alone and discarded and used and you can't ever stop that if that is where they choose to live.
The next time somebody implies that what we do 'must be so rewarding' I may just weep on them in a puddle of NO.
So this hurts.
In a massive way, in one of those fingernails gripping the cliff edge, chilled chest and dry eyes and all out through your shaky arms kind of way. That still moment in life where you realise that this will never be ok, that you will never be ok, because this is just too hard.
But then, in the moment, when the storm rages around your eerily numb self, there's this truth that flowers inside. A new understanding.
Someone has done this before.
This is nothing new.
I'm the ingrate. I'm the stupid idiot who takes and takes and still chooses the shack of my sin. I'm the one who holds God's heart in my hand, drops it and takes another selfie. I'm the one too broken to know what to do with the love that He has showered on me, He is the one who has never lost it, the one who has adopted me into His family, the one who has rescued me and clothed me in joy. I'm the one who doesn't listen, who heeds not the pain I cause Him with my every appalling choice. He is the one who wants an abundant life for His daughter, who waits for the sorry with baited breath and runs, relieved and exalting, to embrace His prodigal when she limps home starving and then does it all over again.
It's stupid. It's stupid of me to love these girls, we get so hurt and so rejected and so humiliated and if I was clever I would probably stop it.
But it's good enough for Him. He is revealing, through this season (phase!) of heartbreak, His own heartbreak over His children.
He yearns for, longs for us to know this amazing grace, this unfailing love. That He would take our place and lay down His life - a weirdly peaceful phrase to describe having one's flesh ripped from one's bones and the weight of all the pain of history's sins, all of them, laid on your own soul - in that love fueled, love filled attempt to win us, to catch us, to take us into a place where we can learn to be loved and to actually live with Him.
There aren't words for it. I'm learning that loving broken people is really hard.
But He did it first.