Saturday, September 14, 2013

How To Love Like Jesus

11-year-old Lexie came over today, our neighborhood friend. She frequently wants to come in and play on the piano and see what my children are up to, but I'm ashamed to confess, I don't always let her in.
Those of you with no ADHD experience won't understand this, but letting her in is like enduring fingernails down a chalkboard for a half-hour, non-stop. 

I love this young lady, but she has severe ADHD with oppositional defiance. She's unable to play a board game or do any activity for more than five to ten minutes. She flits around like a butterfly, or like the mouse in If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. I'm always reminded of those books when she visits.

Extremely passionate and insistent about something, only to forget it moments later.

And she absolutely must be the center of attention at all times, which is especially annoying on van rides.

God has this knack for taking her out of the neighborhood at just the right time--when I don't think I can endure one. more. visit.

Boom. She's gone.

Moved out of her grandparents' house, sometimes for months, sometimes for a few weeks.

Just recently she's come back to the neighborhood and can I be honest? My eyes roll when I hear the knock at the door. Must I, God? Must I let her in? 

And I grieve my own ugly heart for asking this.

Sometimes he lets me say no because my own children's needs are overwhelming me, and sometimes he makes me let her in.

Today she told me, again, that she wants me to homeschool her. She tells me the kids at school are mean, they tease her, they never include her. No one ever invites her over and it's no wonder. Few will tolerate her bossiness and chronic fibbing and her desire to be the center of attention, not to mention the exhausting lack of focus.

I want to make it all better. I want to homeschool her, but I can't. I can't do love that way, day after day, sacrificially. I think homeschooling is the answer for her, but it has to be her own mother investing in her that way. She doesn't really want me to homeschool her. She wants her own mother to be capable of rescuing her from the callousness of public school. I sense the truth from her young heart and it makes mine break. She wants a mother who isn't paralyzed by her own who can and will fight righteously for her daughter.

Today as she played the piano and went from one activity to another, trying to monopolize my home, I felt the strongest pity I've ever felt for anyone.

I wondered of God: How will she ever find a decent husband? How will she overcome her reading and math difficulties and find a job? Will she ever have close friends? Will her family ever emerge from serious dysfunction? Will she turn to drugs for comfort, as the despair and loneliness get worse? Will callous men take advantage of her and then drop her?

She's sweet at times--a sweetness born of suffering, I suspect--with an even sweeter face, but how far will that get her, in the face of her many, serious challenges?

The enormity of her situation overwhelms me. How many people are this annoying, without being capable of change? Her impulse control is three years old, not eleven years old. It seems so terribly unfair, it's hard to fathom. Personalities are so varied, but in most cases, they are tolerable to most people. This allows some acceptance in our lives, which is so important.

God, how I want this child to be an instrument of your glory! I want you to take all the strikes against her--the neurological ones, the family ones, the social ones--and make something poignant and beautiful and whole of her life.

Because when I think of the negative strikes, it seems so hopeless and dark. I can't even stand contemplating it emotionally, it's so depressing.

Pity is never as good as compassion and shame on me for feeling it. Compassion is never as good as love and shame on me for stopping there.

Pity comes from a self-righteous place. God transformed my pity to compassion and my compassion to temporary love, as I listened to her conversation and tried to let love flow from my heart to hers, divinely, despite watching the clock frequently, wanting her to just go. Love her through me, God. I'm no good and I'm too selfish, but use me anyway to love her. Let her have a taste of the love you're capable of. May she yearn for more, for a Lover of her soul who will never leave her nor forsake her.

I hope she keeps knocking. I want my heart to get better at welcoming. I need to get better at this.

All of us need a Lexie in our lives to remind us: while we were sinners, Christ died for us. He accepted us and loved us radically. He concentrated on what we would be in Him.

We're no better than the worst personality we can think of. We're no more tolerable, no more lovable, no more worthy.

When we have a Lexie in our lives, we have a picture of the gospel. The gospel took hopelessness and brokenness and despair, dunked it in the water and brought it back up...baptized into His holiness. What was black and vile becomes white and glorious, like a glistening fresh snow.

We are all Lexie and we best not forget it. And we better learn how to love, as we are loved.

We can't create love from pity, or even from compassion. Only from a position of humility can we truly love. Only by choosing to view our fellow man charitably, in a baptized, pure-as-snow light, can we love him as Christ would.

The Lord's love eclipses brokenness. May ours do the same.

Prayer Time:

Dear Heavenly Father,
You are glorious and perfect. You graciously love us even though we fail you daily. Thank you. Thank you for the Cross, for the washing of our wretched souls. Thank you for the fresh start everyday. Give us a fresh start as lovers, too. May we love from a position of humility, not of pity or compassion. May our love heal, uplift, eclipse, and make new.
In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Note: I haven't given her mother a book yet, but I did find this online , which I gave her tonight, written by Lee Strobel. If you're ever asked the question: "Why does God allow suffering?", you might want to print out this article.


Amber said...

I believe that God is already using you and your family's to show this little girl God's love. As you said, others do not include her or invite her over, so simply by giving her that time in your home, with your family, she is feeling loved and included. Trust me, (family history of foster kids and severe ADHD and other issues) that time in your home is something she will remember! Those moments you give her may be changing moments for her later down the road, or they may just be the few good memories she has.

I have been in a similar position and I completely understand the frustration and want to show her God's love, but at the same time wanting to keep the peace in your own home.

For a lack of better words...good luck.
And blessings to you!

Christine said...

Thank you for the encouragement, Amber, and for visiting today. We all need it here! The situation does make me very grateful that my Peter's ADHD is never so bad as Lexie's. He can certainly get on our nerves but nothing like Lexie's high-maintenance personality.

Today she was here for Bible study and during prayer time she prayed that she would be able to come over often. :) I think that made my one son's eyes roll. He set up a Payday game because she said she wanted to play it, and then five minutes into it she changed her mind and wanted him to give her a piano lesson. Then she said she'd play payday and played for 5 minutes before going outside with the other kids. When she shut the door after leaving, my 9-year-old said, "I'm glad that's over." I had to smile in spite of myself. He is really good with her though.