Monday, August 6, 2012

THAT Mom, THAT Child

Last week, I found myself in a position I never thought I would.  It wasn't something I swore I'd never be, just something I never imagined myself as.

I was that mom.

My cousin and I took our two-year-olds to a play zone with glorified McDonald's-type playground equipment.  My cousin, with her cute little baby belly expecting her second child next month, her two year old daughter, her mom, and the beautiful diamond ring on her left hand were an adorable scene.  People smiled and laughed as "NeNe" chased the spunky toddler through the play zone while her pregnant mommy looked on.

And then there was me.  That mom.

I was the mom without the ring.  I was the mom who couldn't be more than twenty with a son who was almost three.  I was the mom whose son clung to her with frightened uncertainty when we entered the play zone.  I was the mom whose son ran up to a stranger and crawled into her lap without hesitation.  I was the mom with a son whose development was obviously behind that of his young companions.  I was the mom whose son refused to go down the slide sitting up and instead slid feet first on his belly, clinging to the sides of the slide as if he was afraid to leave the top.  I was that mom.

Was I judged by those around me?  Yes.  Good or bad, I was judged one way or the other.
Was I judged harshly by those around me?  Maybe, by some.
Did I feel judged harshly by those around me?  Yes.
Did I care?  Absolutely not.

Because you see, they didn't know the story.  What they didn't know is this: I didn't give birth to my son.  I chose him.  He was actually my parents' foster son who came to live with us at ten days old.  He quickly became "mine", and I have thought of him that way ever since.  Without prompting, he has called me "Mommy" since he learned to say the word.  He lives with his dad and step-mom, but he comes to visit me often and I love our time together.  I don't get credit for his developmental delays.  I don't get credit for his fear of the play zone yet frightening lack of inhibition when it comes to strangers.  But I will gladly accept it.

Because I'm also that mom whose son never once argued or threw a fit at the play zone.  I am the mom whose son made friends with another one of those moms, who seemed sad and lonely until my son started playing and sharing with her in the ball pit.  I am the mom whose son happily called over and over, "Mommy!  Es go!  Peeeees! (Mommy!  Let's go!  Please!)"  I am the mom whose son loves to give me hugs.  I am that mom.  I will gladly accept whatever judgement others will pass on his perceived "issues" for the joy of taking part in the growth of his young character and heart.

And then it hit me: That's my God.

He chose me (James 1:18).  He didn't have to.  He chose to make me His child because He loved me.  But I'm not perfect.  I mess up, and I cast a poor reflection on Him.  When He leads me to new places, I cling to Him with frightened uncertainty.  Most of the time, my spiritual development lags behind where it ought to be.  When He places me at the top of a slide, promising the ride down will bring me joy if I just let go, I refuse and instead inch my way down with my eyes cast backward, clinging to the edge because I'm afraid to leave what I know.  And yes, I run to strangers and crawl into their laps without hesitation, heedless of the beckoning arms of the only One who truly loves me.  I am that child.

Do people judge Him by my behavior?  I hope not, but they probably do.
Do people judge Him wrongly because of my behavior?  Unfortunately, yes.  Sometimes.
Does He care?  Not enough to quit loving me and claiming me as His own.

Because you see, I don't fail every time.  Sometimes I'm kind to people who aren't kind to me.  Sometimes I make friends with people others look down on.  Sometimes I'm patient.  Sometimes I'm loving.  Sometimes I shine His light into the darkness.  Sometimes I can set aside my selfish nature for a moment and serve others.  Sometimes I obey Matthew 5:16, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."  Sometimes, I am that child.

And I think my loving and oh-so-patient Father looks down at me and says exactly the same thing I say about my son:  "I will gladly accept whatever judgement others will pass on her issues for the joy of taking part in the growth of her character and heart."  Because as Proverbs 23:24 says, "The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him."  Wisdom and righteousness take time to grow in the hearts of sinful and foolish children, but watching that growth and seeing the product of it is the joy and delight, and ultimately the glory, of the Father.

I am forever grateful that my Father chose me and loves me: that child.  And because of His love and choice, I choose and love my son and I proudly wear my badge: that mom.