1If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. (MSG)
“Creaking of a rusty gate” –annoying, abrasive, rubbed the wrong way. Never take your paradigm for granted. We have 3 children who entered our family at the ages of 11, 13, and 14. When I eloquently and angelically say, “No, because I love you, and I know what’s best for you?” or “Parents were given to you by God to create boundaries for you,” they hear, “Creak, Creak,” and their skin crawls. There is no foundation of love, just distrust and fear, so the truths of family and God’s love literally causes them to recoil in animosity.
2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. ( NIV)
When what you know is truth goes up against what your kids from hard places know as truth day in and day out, you start thinking they may be right, and you are, indeed, the crazy one. If you don’t have the kind of love that lets you see the hurt that forms their truth, they will dissolve you into nothing. The venomousness of hurt kids who are trying to protect themselves is nothing to mess around with. Unless you’re plugged into God’s love, it will take you down.
3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. (NLT)
Have you ever done that traditional parenting trick where you take a privilege or possession in order to convince your child to change his ways? I did for my neurotypical kids and it usually worked. Then we welcomed in kids from hard places. Nothing will take the power out of your parenting sails quicker than a kid who looks you in the face after you threaten to take away his iPod if he doesn’t do his chore and smashes the prized iPod. iPod gone. Power gone. Chore still not complete. Parenting #fail. Similarly nothing will humble you more than when you trigger the shame core of a kid from a hard place over something silly like not turning his bedroom light off for the nine-hundred trillionth time, and that kid starts slapping himself in the face claiming he’s a bad boy and you should just take him to a new family like the last place did. Kids from hard places have often concluded from their history of lost relationship that they have are not worth of possessions or physical wellbeing. Most of them would give up their possessions or bodies in a heartbeat. They need love instead.
4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. (NRSV)
Lost my patience with my kids…check. Been envious when they like Auntie or another adult more than me…check. Boastful, arrogant, rude…check, check, check. Insist on my own way…isn’t that what a parent’s right is? Irritable…monthly, check. Resentful…how could you not be when this ungrateful orphan ruins your idea of family? No wonder my, “I love yous” are rejected time and time again. Creak. Creak.
7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (NLT)
The improvements (spiritual, emotional, and academic) are minimal after almost 3 years. After enduring continual emotional abuse and periods of physical abuse, the doubt is palpable and the faith and hope are harder and harder to find. What does it look like for love to endure when you feel like your family’s safety is at risk? Does it have to FEEL like love to her? Does loving her mean sacrificing others? Is it possible to love everyone in the family well?
8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of [c]prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. (NASB)
In the same way traditional prophecy and knowledge are imperfect, so is our human logic and reasoning. It is entirely possible that we will never get our heads fully around the calling God has put on our family. Really, all the advice in the world can’t fix our situation. Instead, we cling to Love, Jesus, and wait for the perfect to come.
11 When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good. (MSG)
When you’re called to love in a 1 Corinthians kind of way, there is no room for childishness. You have to be the big person. Nothing will reveal your immaturities and childish tendencies faster than having to live our real love.
12 We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! 13 But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. (MSG)
I’ll be honest, in the fog, it’s hard to trust, hope or love, but there the words are in black and white. The call to do exactly what I’m tired of doing.