The past two weeks have been tough. I mean really tough.
It started when our two-year old began coughing on a Tuesday. Jack was doing okay, but by Friday, Ethan was coughing so hard he was crying begging to stay home from school. He is the kind of kid who is so tough that when he sliced open his foot playing barefoot basketball (a not good idea, as he now understands) at the neighbors, he had to be carried home. He left a trail of blood behind and never once cried.
Halfway though school on Friday, Luke came down sick and by the time he got home, he was feverish. Saturday, our six month old foster daughter started coughing.
I had been feeling sick since midweek, but with fibromyalgia, I get sick easily. It is frustrating since all it seems to take is one random person coughing on me and I’m sick within days. Living with four kids is basically an open invitation for any germ in a ten miles radius to come infect me. But, I still need to take care of everyone.
Monday morning, it was worse. Baby Girl was having trouble breathing and the doctor told us the bronchitis that had infected us was really RSV. This virus put Luke in the hospital when he was a newborn. It only causes cold like symptoms for adults, but it is dangerous for babies, especially those with all the health issues that Baby Girl has.
The next few days were consumed with breathing treatments, doctor’s visits, and communication with our social workers while taking care of our boys. At points, usually in the middle of the night, we were hourly deciding if we needed to take her to the hospital. Thankfully, she responded well to breathing treatments; it took days, but we made it out of the woods.
In just a few days, our lives went from being normal to chaotic. I had grand plans for those days, but they went out the window. In my sheer exhaustion caring for those kiddos, God wanted to get my attention.
I’ve been thinking about how life isn’t easy and sometimes, we have the expectation that it should be so. Call it a product of our affluent culture, with its labor-saving devices and nearly instant anesthesia, but it reflects a universal human desire for instant gratification and comfort. A desire for comfort even at great cost.
We sacrifice serving others and a life of significance for comfort. When we focus on our own comfort, we don’t see needs of others as we should. It’s easy as a parent to see the needs of our kids and want to do what we can for them, but sometimes our desire to be a servant ends there.
It is why, honestly, it bothers me when some people express surprise that I am a foster parent with a chronic illness. Our culture tells us that if serving is too hard, too inconvenient, too painful, or even if we just don’t want to, then we don’t need to.
This isn’t what Jesus said. He Himself was a servant: He washed the disciples’ feet: a disgusting job in Biblical times. It was reserved for lowly slaves and servants. Everyone wore sandals and walked through filthy, muddy, and waste filled streets. And I thought cleaning up my boys after they have been playing outside was bad…
If anybody had a right not to humble himself in this way, it was Jesus, the Son of God.
Giving is an act of service: He constantly pointed out people who gave all, like the widow who gave her last two coins for God’s work in Luke 21:2. It wasn’t much, but it was all she had.
I don’t think I am responsible for the impact I make. I’m simply responsible for showing up and serving and letting God do what He will with it. Even when it is hard. Even when it is uncomfortable. Even when I don’t want to.
This week I was exhausted with fibro and didn’t want to get up in the middle of the night with my foster daughter; I wanted to sleep. But, we did it anyway. I know I don’t have to do this: I could say at any moment this is too much for me and let the social workers find some other place for her to go. But I won’t. I am fully convinced God wants this precious little girl with me right now. It might be harder with chronic illness, but I can’t let that steal my life away. I don’t know what His plan is with it all, but I know we are doing the right thing by serving. He’ll work out the rest. All that matters is we follow His example.
Very seldom do great things just happen. They are usually born out of adversity and struggle. God shines brightly when we give it all to Him. If we don’t partner with Him in service, we miss getting to work with the Hero of this story. Anything less than this sounds, well… boring. Insignificant. Self-seeking.
It comes down to giving and serving as much as we are able, like the widow. I’m thankful the kids are doing better, but it was an honor to serve them. It was so draining and I’m incredibly grateful to all of my friends who prayed for us, my mother in-law who made us dinner, and my mom who sent a care package. They were serving too and God used it as a huge encouragement to me. When it all works together like this, it’s a beautiful thing. God’s plan always is. Even when it is hard.