We have been blessed with two little girls in the Promise House, R and H. R is 5 and came to Children of the Promise (COTP) during my time as a nurse here. H is 3 and came after I was no longer the nurse. One of the greatest changes in our house this past year has been the development of R’s laugh. She smiled before, from time to time, but now her melodic giggle beats just about any other sound in the house. The triggers that make R laugh are unclear and unpredictable, but what a joy when she surprises us with it! What might we find if we could get inside her little head when she starts laughing randomly? Wilson and I got to take R swimming for her birthday in May, a day we were all relaxed and happy.
H, who also went swimming with us for her birthday, had a huge, contagious smile that mysteriously disappeared a few months before we moved in. I am a list person, and at the top of many lists in the last year I have written “Make H smile.” You can hold your suggestions for accomplishing this unless they are way outside the box. We’ve tried it all, from medication changes to essential oils to every tickly, cuddly, and silly thing a person could do to make a child smile. I’m still determined to see H’s beautiful smile but I’d be lying if I said my optimism wasn’t starting to fade just a little.
As you may know, I always try to write with honesty and transparency. If I’m being truly honest, I would have to tell you that of all our kids, I have the hardest time connecting with the girls. I’m not totally sure of the reason, but I think it’s because they just don’t respond as much to interaction and stimulation. There is no immediate (or foreseeable??) reward for our efforts. With all the therapy and social interaction we can muster, there is not much more than hints of change. And isn’t that how Albert Einstein defined insanity? “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Day after day, week after week, month after month, we just keep at it, working with them, engaging them, trying to make a difference. Maybe not expecting different results, but certainly hoping for them. Sure, the details change, but the results don’t seem to change. And after a while I start to feel discouraged and, well, insane.
Wilson and I read a small section of the Bible together most nights before bed. We recently read about the Israelites’ time in the desert after being led out of slavery and Egypt before entering the Promised Land. Oh, they were whiny and insufferable! God performs a great work for his people and the manna or quail or water pouring from a rock reminds them of his sovereign goodness. A minute passes and they forget what God has done and complain that they would have been better off enslaved in Egypt. Again, God provides in a miraculous way and all is well. Another minute passes and they are worshiping a golden calf. Now we’ve started into the accounts of the judges and the cycles of turning from God, being oppressed, begging for mercy, being rescued, and experiencing a time of peace. Rinse and repeat. I think one could argue that God exhibits some symptoms of insanity. Despite the inevitable, despite his people turning away to place their trust in themselves or in other lesser gods, God continues to pursue them, to fight for them, to love them. To love us. Because are we really any less obnoxious than the Israelites? I shudder at the thought of someone recording all the little, shameful bits of my life for all the world to see. But that’s what love does. Love chooses to pursue again and again, choosing to forgive over and over, hoping it makes a difference but knowing it might not. That’s what love is. Love is insanity.
So I choose to love R and H, knowing it may be frustrating, knowing that at times it feels fruitless, knowing it makes me a little insane. Because I choose to love, I cuddle and rock R and H before bed, though they may never cuddle back. Because I choose to love, I put splints on R’s hands every day, I stretch each arm and leg, I practice tummy time, assisted sitting and standing, though they may never have more purposeful movement. Because I choose to love, I talk to them, read to them, sing to them, though they may never utter a word.
Looking back over our first year in the Promise House, I see progress in our house and I see improvement in our kids, but there is also personal growth and learning. God uses kids like R and H to reveal more of him and how we relate to him. I usually don’t like analogies that equate us with God, yet we are created in his image and are always striving to be better reflections of him to the world. I want to always have hope and to love like he does, regardless of the outcome. I will persist and endure what sometimes feels like insanity because I choose to love. Because he first loved me.