There's an old saying which goes, "The more things change, the more they stay the same." I understand the sentiment behind this 17th century Frenchman's pondering and yet, in my world, it seems the only thing that actually stays the same is that everything always changes.
We just suffered through another rash of goodbyes. More change mingled with a generous pinch of grief.
Today felt especially heavy. The youngest of our kids are taking the whole thing hard, even though they don't know how to put words to it. It's like they feel it and yet they don't understand what they're feeling. And so the day was full of spontaneous tears and angry words being slung without cause. One of our little people who is usually very quick to obey, found it impossible to do so today and just moments ago ended the evening in a sobbing heap of frustration.
The people God brings here touch the hearts of these kids. They wriggle in and reserve a spot, almost without notice. Bonds are formed and relationship is built until each forgets the other hasn't always been there. And that they won't always remain, either.
Here's what I'm learning: The goodbye's are hard but only because they're the end of something so good. And that good is worth having, even if it changes shape over time. It's life and reality and we're all better off for having more people to love, no matter how near or far they are at any given moment.
At supper we had a chat with all the kids about some bullying that we learned has been happening again. It's a situation we've addressed many times over many months and it wasn't much improving. So tonight we talked about it openly and had the offender stand before the offended. It was uncomfortable for all of us and yet redemption only comes when we've owned what we've done.
The offender remained silent and was clearly angry. We remained firm.
The conversation ended, we prayed for the meal, and began to serve supper. The chatter so common at meal times commenced and the familiar sounds of supper filled the air. Everything was as expected, except the offender was apparently suddenly not hungry.
Anger and a refusal to acknowledge sin will rob you of more than your appetite, though. We didn't budge.
The kids finished and began to clean up the remains from the meal and I glanced over to where the seething child sat and immediately noticed a difference in demeanor. There was clearly a softening. I looked away so as not to disturb the work the Spirit was doing on a tender but stubborn heart.
Some things can't be rushed.
A few minutes passed and a sheepish figure appeared before me and said, "Mama, I want to say sorry to the kids." A Thai child taking the first step of confession. I reached out both arms and scooped the young offender into a hug and offered the reminder that it wasn't just the other children due an apology. God was waiting, too.
A nod of acknowledgment indicated a willingness to do just that. And a short time later, all had been made right.
Sometimes the days feel relentless. Occasionally they're painful and often it all seems pointless. We get sick of goodbye and tired of change. We don't want to be adaptable and, every now and then, we just want a really long nap right smack in the middle of the day.
But then one child repents and takes another step toward Jesus and we know there is no sacrifice when there is so great a reward.