Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Today started out in a really challenging way. I spent the morning trying really hard to focus on God’s word in John 3, but for some reason, I just couldn’t seem to get my mind around a lot of it. The more I tried to grasp at it, the farther away from the Lord’s presence I felt. I even tried walking around ACU’s Lunsford Trail while worshiping and praying. Even though it reminded me of a different side of God I hadn’t experienced in a while, ultimately, I was just begging god to help me feel valued, connected and loved.
Fortunately, Jesus granted me the desire of my heart, very shortly after. Initially, that prayer was answered when I got invited to spend some time with Merissa Marlof, a close friend who God’s been drawing my heart deeper and closer to, recently. Later, though, God started answering my prayer in a very different way.
After hanging out with me, Merissa drops me off at Allelon Community’s house, and I’m telling you guys, pure joy awaited me within the walls of this house. Within a split second of my opening the door to the house, Ana and Donavon yell my name at the top of their lungs, leave everything behind and start jumping on me, clinging to me like their lives depended on it. Ana was so stinking excited to see me that she made me feel like the most valuable person on this planet. As soon as she was done hugging me, loving on me and telling me how happy she was to be with me, she passionately launched into explaining to me her and Kristen’s exciting plans to go into the woods and “hunt horses”. Even though there were going to be many colors, she explained, her favorite was going to be the big white one. She absolutely insisted that I join her and Kristen on this wild escapade of theirs. As it turned out, Kristen couldn’t make it, but Wes and Donavon joined Ana and I in trudging down the well worn pathway behind the house, through the field of tall, dead plants. Even though I was excited to see the older guys and girls in the community, my mind and heart were truly sold out to loving and focusing on these children. Between “watching out” for snakes, protecting ourselves with sticks, having Ana lead us all to the horses, desperately trying to calm the kids down so that they wouldn’t run down the hill at 60 mph, singing “old MacDonald,” looking for Ana and Donavon as they pretended to blend in and become one with the shrubs, and finally, hunting imaginary rabbits, Wes and I were trying to love on them and teach these two precious children about what it meant to be obedient and loving, what it looked like to be a noble leader (since Ana was our leader) and what it looked like to look out for each other. Even though we never found the horses or got to hunt them (thankfully), we all had so much fun.
Honestly, it was the highlight of my entire weekend. There’s something about being loved on by children that allows me to feel more joy and affection than I could ever try to relay. One of the things I love most about being a part of the Allelon Community is that I always get to observe the older members of the community handle children, discipline them in the way of the Lord, love them genuinely and teach them wisely. If I am super lucky, I get to sit back and intently observe how the boys try to love and correct crazy Donovan as he runs wild, and actually succeed in doing it, through raising him in the love and wisdom of the lord. My heart really soars, though, when I then get a chance to model what I learn, through getting to handle the children and deal with their mistake or weaknesses, and succeed in showing them love while teaching them about respect and obedience.
If you have any idea what the house is usually like, you’d know that I get that chance a lot, since there are almost always children over there. I’m not a pro at bringing children up, but I am receiving a tremendous amount of joy and love through succeeding at playing with the kids and having them enjoy their time with me, through succeeding at holding them and showing them that I love them, through watching them actually do what I say without any anger or frustration entering the situation and, most of all, through watching them model Christ through their every day actions. For example, I got to see Donavon trying to share his little bit of lunch with Cody Terry today – it is most definitely an image that will linger in my mind for a long time. It’s during times like these, when I get to see the kingdom of God manifest itself within the lives of little ones, that I cannot help but give honor and praise and Glory to our lover and creator.
Being a part of this community has also taught me how much value children really have. They are NOT bothersome nuisances that should be ignored. They are the most life-giving, precious creations on this earth. They desperately want and need love, respect, attention, wisdom in the lord, and most of all, they DESERVE to be taken seriously, not just made fun of or shrugged off. We truly don’t realize how much influence we have in young children’s lives. They are so impressionable, that the most insignificant acts of love and kindness (in our eyes) will still be imprinted within their minds and actions for long times to come.
It was upon sitting down and reflecting on my day at the house that I discovered something: spending time with Kids is becoming one of the primary ways I receive and show love. It’s also becoming an essential part of my growth and maturity process. Thanks to the incredible role models I have at the house, I have started taking children very seriously, giving them a part of my heart and allowing myself to get attached to them. Walls that society teaches us to have built around our hearts to distance ourselves from the hearts of children, are being passionately torn down through community with the guys who are teaching us all to value children. Not only do I allow myself to get attached to kids, but taking them seriously allows me to be intentional and genuine about bringing them up in the ways of the Lord. Also, these creations are taken so seriously by me that they have the power to overwhelm me with love, joy and value when no one else could. Even though having children is not even in my field of vision, I feel so privileged to already be receiving rich, wise and intensive training in raising them with the Allelon community.