I heard the sweetest/saddest/sweetest story this week and I want to share an abbreviated form of it with you, and then share my heart.
The story begins with a little newborn, surrendered to authorities and failing to thrive.
Failure to thrive is no joke. I was warned of the possibility when expecting Thaney. That low muscle tone, or poor reflexes may result in an inability to tap into our instinctual drive to survive. It was during those visits with doctors and the warnings they gave, that Thaniels dad began to form the opinion that he “couldn’t handle” the future with Thane.
This other little one was given to a foster family and eventually he was adopted by them, but as the telling went, I got a sense that the story teller felt he was lucky. Blessed even to have been taken in at all. Essentially unwanted, unworthy and ‘ graced’ with people who decided to put up with him anyway. Like they were doing him a favour.
I understand that. I always felt that was what God had to do in my case. Until I really met Jesus and He just flooded my heart with the depth of love He felt for stupid clumsy me… but up until then, I figured He was a ‘ Saint’ and that’s just what saints do.
Enter Thaniel. God’s living breathing walking talking pooping singing hugging loving example to me of just how deep and wide and full and eternal and all encompassing and perfect love can be. And I know my love for Thaniel and he for me only scratches the surface of our Savior’s love for us both.
So here is my Christmas homily for that little newborn who felt rejected and despised and taken ‘anyway’ . It’s for you who might be feeling like you don’t qualify. For you who feel that if you work hard enough you’ll earn a place at the table.. and for Thaney bear, may you never ever feel that you are anything less than God’s most perfect design. Formed with purpose, on purpose and to my absolute joy and thanksgiving.
I have nine children (eight earth side and one heaven side) . All carried in my own body. Genetically all mine. Flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone. They should be all the same. They eat the same foods, and go to bed at the same time, I sang the same lullaby’s to each of them as they rested on my shoulder and I rocked them to sleep. I wrote them stories, and told them at bedtime, passed down the same traditions, introduced them to the same Saviour. But they are all so different. Despite all of the sameness, they are all so different. Unique in their personalities, character traits, emotions, behaviours, viewpoints. And the gap only widens as they get older. Outside influences seep in and colour the canvases once blank for my choosing.
Difference can be divisive. It can sever ties, cut communication, end relationship. Difference is scary, it’s odd, it separates, excludes, sets apart. No one really likes difference. For all of our uniqueness we are the same in that. We don’t understand difference.
How do we relate to the other? How do we communicate? How do we find common ground? Because the common seems to be the only way we bridge that gap. For some reason we are unable or unwilling to leap across a chasm and accept difference for what it is. We search for a common. A same.
My ninth child is different. VERY different from his siblings. He looks different. He sounds different. He learns different. He moves different. He was carried and nurtured and cared for the same, but he is far and away different. The very core of his DNA is altered and apart. He is genetically different. He stands alone.
And yet, his sweet unique is pulling my family closer. Despite all that sets him apart, he seems to call everyone to him. In our home, in the grocery store, in the mall and on the street. People draw near to him. And it’s not just him. We, my family and I are all drawn now to others like him. So different from ourselves, but now seemingly bound together in some strange but awesome family of “others” . I see someone like him and my heart responds with “YOU TOO!” I feel joined, familiar, the same.
How is this? That we are different but so alike.
Jesus was this.
Jesus was the same. Born of a woman. Carried in a womb. Delivered in a baptism of blood and water. Raised, loved, taught, and tucked in, just like each of us. But He was so apart. So very different and unalike. We considered Him afflicted and rejected and we didn’t understand His difference. Fully God / Fully man. All at once like us, and all at once nothing like us. He walked with us, and we never really knew Him. We turned Him away. We didn’t want everything that came with Him. We knew not what we did.
Until the spirit opened our eyes and we received Him as He is.
After which, everyone we met who had brought Him in; became familiar, family. We could look at someone across the chasm of race and colour and socio-economic standing and say “YOU TOO!” And feel bound together. No free man, no slave, One God, one family. Same.
Now, I’m not for a second relating my son to the most high. Not at all. But it’s that same drawing, that same camaraderie I feel with him and those like him that I feel with the family of God. And it leads me to believe that despite our difference. We are more alike.
My children are all different. But they are more alike.
My Christian family are all different, but they are more alike.
You just need to let the spirit in.
When you see my son, and you note his difference, and you consider him afflicted and perhaps intend to reject him… stop for a second and let the spirit of him in, and see if all of a sudden you don’t find yourself in a sea of family, of oneness with humanity, of same.
Because truly. We are all more alike than different.
Everyday that I have been a single mommy to this most awesome baby boy, has been one filled with a dual prayer… ” Lord Jesus, please let Thaney never feel even for a second that he was unwanted in anyway, and God, Thank you. Thank you Thank you Thank you!
And when it comes to that other little baby boy, Thank you God for him too. Thank you that he did thrive, that he found his family, that they were blessed enough by You to have the privilege of knowing and loving him, Your creation , Your glorious design. And thank you that he found You, the author and finisher of our faith, the greatest qualifier ever. Ancient of days, we love you too. 🙂