Sunday, October 23, 2011

Only God Changes Hearts

Reading between the lines, some of you may have guessed my husband to be the less enthusiastic Compassion supporter. You would be correct. 

When months of underemployment turn to years, it becomes harder for a man to have hope and faith, especially while negotiating two to three different part-time jobs, which make for long, stressful days. My observation is that no one works harder than the underemployed; they scramble for a living, often seven days a week. Only recently has my husband had a full day off (Sunday). Come snow time though, he will be responsible for salting & snow removal for a church parking lot on Sunday mornings; his 30-hour part-time position is with a church.

So for these many months, I think he's been more frustrated by my Compassion passion, then anything else. Our being unable to sponsor anyone, in his mind, seemed like just another failure. Driving old cars we could barely keep going, praying for our meals and gas money....all the details made our circumstances seem desperate at times--though that was just our flesh, not reality. God has always been there. Faithful.

Several times I've come close to sponsoring a child without my husband's consent. Shameful, yes. 

I never even asked him if we could sponsor. The conversation never came up, because I've known his state of mind too well. Divya and Raphael, as I've mentioned, are both correspondent children; we are not their sponsors.

Thankfully, each time I felt tempted to click on a "sponsor me" button, the Holy Spirit stopped me. It wasn't out of defiance I felt these urges to click, but out of a desperate desire to help those whose circumstances are far worse than ours. For the first time in my life, I knew something of what they felt. 

Hopeless, marked, not good enough.

Yesterday, reading the post about the number of children who've waited so long, my desperation returned. My boys were over my shoulder as I checked the Compassion page featuring all the children--86 when we first looked at it--who'd waited six months or longer for a sponsor. I could see the compassion pouring from my boys' young hearts. How they wanted to click those "sponsor me" buttons as well.

We thought of all the groceries we could give up that would amount to $38. Money saved is money earned, I told them. It wasn't easy and some negotiation ensued, but Peter, Paul, Mary, and Momma each thought of one grocery item we could give up twice a month.

My husband works half day on Saturdays, so he wasn't around for these negotiations.

We continued to check the Compassion website every half hour, watching the number of children go up and down. Peter and Paul watched the children's pictures change position. I explained that as more children qualify for the longest-waiting list, the number goes up. As people sponsor them, the number goes down. It fluctuated, but we rejoiced each time it went down. Peter marveled at the Christians who obeyed God and sponsored.

I began to feel guilty. What right had we to even think about sponsoring? Was my husband going to be mad at me? Should I just tell the children to pray for others to keep sponsoring? Convicted, I decided to say nothing to my husband about our negotiated and reduced grocery bill.

We continued to watch the website though, and when Daddy returned, Peter, ever the talker, told him all about our day. Daddy listened, saying nothing.

We all went to a park for a couple hours, to help Beth with her physical therapy goals. Later, chores and a grocery run.

The busiest hours of the day having arrived, we stopped checking the list.

Until bedtime. One last check.

Peter said something about Nelson, whose picture he'd been watching. I clicked on the "learn more" button at the bottom of Nelson's picture. El Salvador. Seven years old. Loves soccer. Single mom--a laborer. Two children in the home. No father mentioned. 

It was the no father that got me the most. My boys too. My hand wanted to click. The boys' hands wanted to click. 

I picked up the phone, calling the automated phone teller to check our balance. I knew it was low. 

Meanwhile, Daddy asked why everyone abandoned him. We had gone to brush teeth initially, and then planned to return to the playroom for another bedtime story.

We just wanted to check the list one more time. Quickly.

Peter responded to Daddy. "Mommy's doing something. We'll be right there."

In a lower voice, to me, Peter said, "I didn't tell him what you're doing." 

Oh, the guilt at that comment! Was I teaching them to go behind their Daddy's back? Shame on me.  How conflicted I was...pulled in two powerful positions.

I got off the phone, dejected. $68 dollars to last for gas and miscellaneous for the next four days. 

No way, I told the kids. Daddy needs gas money.

Peter returned to the playroom, telling Daddy we wanted to sponsor a boy, but we couldn't because we only have $68.

I expected anger and resentment. After all, this wasn't exactly the proper way to decide these things. I felt convicted.

"I need about $50 for gas", husband said. "We'll do it on faith."

Rejoicing, we ran back to the computer, wondering if Nelson's picture was still there. It shifted positions, but we found it easily. Five minutes later, Nelson joined our family, leaving some of us in tears over Daddy's tender, faith-filled heart. 

And we couldn't be happier. For Nelson...for Daddy. They needed each other desperately.

Bitterness, once rampant in my man's heart, turned to compassion, through the power of God. I've never loved my husband more, nor my Savior.

Only God changes hearts.


Laura said...

OH, Christine. You have me in tears. What a beautiful heart you have. And your little ones. And their daddy too.

Christine said...

You are sweet, Laura. Thank you. I can't count how many times I've been in tears reading your blog. Love you!