“Why do you call me ‘Super’? No one is Super Pops but God!”
You have heard it said….
As I sit here typing this post, I wear a tee-shirt (Christmas gift) that I did not choose for myself, but with a label on it made to look like a Superman S across the chest and the word “Pops” superimposed over it. Sort of a superhero thingy.
(I have long thought about writing a post on superheroes. I don’t like them, and I think about that too, but a token mention of it will suffice for this post.)
I certainly am not superhero, nor am I a particularly great parent. I have my moments, but I am not consistently a great parent. Not at all. Yet I have taken this role in the live-action movie dramatizing my life – my life where I dramatize Jesus in me for the world to see. But of course, there’s a reason Hollywood doesn’t come calling; I’m not that great of a hypocrite either!) Still, I wear the shirt. Little people answer to me. But, what if….?
Here at the Fat Beggars Home for Widows, Orphans, and Sojourners, our work, for the last six years, has focused entirely on the Orphans. We take the kids “nobody wants” – so to speak. (That statement is far more complicated than it sounds.)
We sure gott’m too.
The house is full of babies. Mrs. Agent X is a baby nurse, and so she manages to get us the young’uns. We had a couple of bigger kids pass through here, but by far, getting them young gives us a head start on the healing. We set the trajectory for hope, healing, and happiness practically from birth. It’s definitely an advantage, and I am grateful for that.
We aim at hope and healing… but…
But it’s no guarantee.
No child, not even born of your own loins, comes with guarantees. I often think of Steve Martin, in the 1989 movie, Parenthood, day-maring (is that a word?) with worry that his child will grow up to climb a belltower and start shooting innocent people. It was funny and identifiable because of how common such a worry is.
But when God chooses a broken person like me wear a “Super Pops” shirt and care for such broken people as my kids, it feels almost certain that he isn’t aiming at the kind of “success” they put in the brochures down at the graduation banquet, the real estate office, or on the “life coach” website.
Oh, no. The state of Texas promises to pay for my kids’ college, but it remains to be seen if we will advance from first grade to second. (Now, between sounding pessimistic and cynical, I notice that it feels like the State of Texas (with their think tanks, graduate students, and social worker surveys) are banking that I will pay the tab on diapers, food, and toys for 18 years, and then my kids won’t bother signing up for college!)
I’m torn between being worried about “success” or “failure” and trusting God and his people to lay down our lives for these kids and love them come-what-may. You know… ordering our lives and our world in such a way to accommodate the damage done in utero. Yeah, they were born addicted.
I’m not gonna lie.
I’m a mess. They are a mess. WE… ARE … A … MESS!
Just this morning, I greeted a crying baby whose diaper told me we had reached the credit limit on what it could take. Just yesterday, my four-year-old, who should have been potty trained in two days, two years ago, blew through the credit in a pair of pants, shirt, and chair in our living room, and shows no sign of understanding how to get square with the house next time. And while I hear plenty of tape recordings of my own words played back to me, I am shocked at some of the cruel things I hear coming out of little mouths which I never heard uttered in this house from any other.
Did I mention that I’m a mess?
Yeah, and outnumbered too.
Am I not reading enough parenting books? Should I be in more support groups? Do my kids need more medications? Was I supposed to get a Ph.D in foster adoption before I made the commitment?
Or is faith and living for God a whole other category?
Suddenly, I sound like those people peddling their “effective charity” while declaring we give a “hand up, not a handout” while seeking the “best practices” of “practitioners in the field.” Otherwise, the homeless children we have just homed will become homeless after we feed them a fish for 18 years.
And you know what just kicks me in the jimmy?
The fact that posting this will sooner cause a reader to start applying those principles to foster care than the love of God. (I know! I just made all that BS sound so smart. Some of the best writing I ever produced right there in the paragraph above!)
Did I mention cynical?
Yeah. This much I know from experience: When you give your life to Jesus, it’s no longer yours.
This much I know by faith: That other approach with all its grand worldly wisdom brought you government gridlock in Washington, failed schools, and mass shootings despite all the best professionals in the world working on it with their think tanks, graduate studies, and preachers kissing imperial booty and never achieved love.
No one ever mentions it (seriously, if you find where someone did, please point it out to me), but when Jesus addresses those boys sitting outside Herod’s temple and pointing out all the grand stonework with a patriotic tear in the eye and a puffed-out chest with pride, and Jesus responds saying “not one stone will be left atop another,” he looks and sounds, for all the world, like sour grapes. And when you add to that the crucifixion scene where the leaders among the people mock him for not saving himself, he looks like that much more of a loser with a bad attitude.
Yeah. If you really think about it, Jesus is everything you hate in a loser. That’s pretty much why you crucified him.
So… I know my redeemer lives! It’s the only choice I have left to me that makes any sense of the data. The results do not appear to be in yet, but it is the only outcome left possible, despite the appearance of impossibility. Even Sherlock would have to agree.
So, I am gonna love my kids for all I am worth as if they were Jesus in disguise.
(Now… if that can be the case, perhaps I need to give the rest of God’s people another chance too.)