Saturday, October 24, 2009

A change of perspective

Did you ever have a conversation, hear something said in passing and it felt like someone was throwing a bucket of water on your face?  Like you *woke up*!  and saw things differently than before.. your perspective was completely altered?  Well that happened to me Friday when Rachel's friend Svieta came to visit.  Svieta's grandparents live down the road and she comes every Friday after school and spends the weekend with them.. and in turn us.   When she rings the doorbell Johanna comes running 'SVIETA!!  Svieta, my other sister is here!'   She's spent quite a bit of time at our house since we moved in four years ago.. and we all think of her as our 'other sister.'
Svieta sat down at the table and I set about fixing her a cheese sandwich and hot chocolate and asked her about school.  She seemed more excited than usual and chatted on... 'my Papa is coming to see me tomorrow!  I haven't seen him for four years and I'm so excited!!  He's going to take me to McDonald's and buy me a new coat!'  I was stunned for a moment but then got excited with her.  I had learned from her Mother that Svieta's Father had left when she was a  baby.. but she had never ever mentioned him before.   "Where does he live?"  I asked thinking he must be from Vladivostok or some city in far away Siberia.   'Oh he lives in Moscow,'  Svieta replied.   'I just never see him because he works all the time, but he is really rich now.. he has a television as big as an entire wall, and a new car, and lots and lots of money.'  She finished her snack and then took her plate and put it in the sink.  I kissed the top of her head and then watched her skip up the stairs to play rack-o with Rachel and the boys.
I turned back to the sink and felt the tears spring to my eyes.   I wanted to weep for this man I had never met.. this man who lived a mere 60 miles away and yet who had missed so very, very  much these past four years.  I wanted to weep for a society that thinks a wall sized TV is more important than your daughter's 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th birthdays.  Do they really believe that children desire gifts more than a relationship with the giver?   Then my mind began to race with memories I had made with Svieta over the years ~ the countless walks in the woods together, baking cookies & apple pies, going swimming at the lake,  skating at the pond and sledding down the big hill til we were frozen.  This summer when her dog died how I held her while she sobbed.. with Rachel sobbing right along beside her, and then we all walked to the store for her favorite chocolate ice cream.  I thought about Rachel giving Svieta her first Bible, and her coming to the day camp and telling us how she believed in God now.  I thought about all the joy & laughter she had brought into our lives.   And there in that moment I had my *AHA* moment.. I saw things differently.. I remembered with shame that I had thought to myself 'well here's this poor child with no Father, an alcoholic Mother and Grandfather and maybe we can do some good in her poor life'.   But now I saw clearly that I had needed Svieta.  I had needed someone to walk through the woods and tell me which mushrooms to pick, I needed someone that did nothing but watch a catapillar for an hour straight, I needed someone to teach me silly songs in Russian and tell me the gossip of the whole city.   She had blessed my life in ways I had never fully appreciated and had taken for granted.  
And that got me to thinking.. do we realize how much we miss when we don't have children in our lives??  Do adults realize how much we need little people around?   We need people in our lives that have no concept of time or money.  Who love unconditionally and forgive immediately.  Who will spend an entire afternoon talking to stuffed dogs, and think the closest place to paradise on earth is Cici's pizza buffet.  Last week Johanna spent a solid 45 minutes on the toilet singing made up praise songs.. I walked by and knocked on the door:
  ~ "Johanna are you okay in there??"
  ~'Yes Mommy!  I'm just singing to Jesus'    I could hear her little voice through the crack in the door..  'thank you Jesus for my special bug, thank you for the yellow flowers, thank you for my princess dress, thank you for Rachel my friend, thank you for the purple flowers...'

I thought about it later, when was the last time I had 45 minutes where I did nothing but praise God?    We're told in Matthew,  'Unless you become as a little child you will not enter the kingdom of God.'   Could it be that the secret to becoming like a child is to have little children in your life?  Do we need to be involved somehow in a child's life because that is what enlarges our own heart;  gives us more patience, love, forgiveness and grace?

If this is true how would it affect our churches and lives?  Would there be a waiting list for who gets to do the preschool crafts for VBS??  Would people be fighting over who gets the privilege of teaching the 5th & 6th grade boys Sunday School class?  Would there be less children in foster care and orphanages and more children around our tables?  

As all these thoughts swirled through my mind I turned away from the window and thanked God for throwing that water on my face.  I realize now that I got the *bargain* of the decade. For in exchange of a few crust of bread and warmed up milk, our family has been given a priceless treasure..  a friend named Svieta. 


Linda said...

This is an awesome post!!! I love your stories which have such profound but simple truth. I just spent a couple days in Houston visiting a niece and attending a luncheon where JC Watts was the speaker. He is a wonderful, former congressman from OK who talked about this verse you mention. He shared a number of stories about how children respond with such pure joy and delight which grown ups are too sophisticated for but which is what God has in mind for how we should love and worship Him. Thanks for your sharing and for the ways you have loved a precious child.

Mother Superior said...

Thanks so much for this post. Very true, and very timely for me. Blessings~ Jessica

Ben and Becca said...

Thank you for this post! I sincerely appreciate it! I am hoping to take my little boy to a place he loves tomorrow, and this just encourages me to do so even more. Thank you for blessing me with this encouragement!

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