Yesterday was hard. HARD.
Today has officially been a week since Vika got here so it is probably normal for everyone to be tired. Before she came, I thought that things were always a bit “chaotic” with four children running around. Now I realize that there is a rhythm between us all whether I realized it or not. At times it is almost like a finely tuned orchestra. My children know me. They know my looks and they know when its intended for them. With only the lift of an eyebrow I can remind Isabella to use her “inside voice”. My children know my habits, routines, and pet peeves. They know me so well that when Kayla sits next to me in the passenger seat she automatically reaches into my purse and pulls out my sunglasses before I ask if she can hand them to me.
Finely tuned orchestra.
Then someone completely new comes into the picture and its like adding a drummer with completely different sheet music. Suddenly, mainly because of a language barrier- there is a shift and much of the energy of the house revolves around her. Much of my energy revolves around her. And she is 13, but she rarely really IS 13. She is so needy in some ways- like in the area of affection or reassurance- that at times she makes the 6 year old look independent. And five minutes later she is mimicking me and trying to be the Mama- and she is clearly not- and her attempts to be Mama aren’t appreciated by anyone including me. There are cultural differences so vast that I can’t jump the hurdles without explanation and I find it hard to explain via unpredictable translators.
We went swimsuit shopping yesterday which should have been my first clue it was going to be a hard day! I mean, really? Swimsuit shopping with an American teenager - my teenager - made for a stressful day that day! We found a swimsuit and tried to get out of the store but she didn’t understand why I wouldn’t buy her the other things she asked for. She has no concept of money much less how to manage it. America certainly is not the land of moderation- and its hard to communicate the reasons for "no" when everything she knows and sees here screams “the land of excess”.
So it was impossible to know if what appeared to be a bad mood was really pouting or sadness or a sign that she was weary after an entire week of not even being able to speak because no one would understand you if you did. I mean, I'd probably fall out and die if I had to go a whole week. Y'all know me- I'm a wordy girl.
The thing is… people are messy. And there are reasons behind their behavior whether we see it or not. For six days she has picked Gavin up constantly, kissing all over him and tickling him and getting chaos started. While I spend my time trying to get him to settle down- she spends all her time getting him riled up and making him squeal and run around the house. I try to nicely correct her and tell her when its too much and really time to quit - navigating the land mines of a fragile, delicate child that easily misunderstands correction for rejection. I just decide to overlook the fact that though I don’t allow him to have gum he has been through a pack of hers since she has been here because I need to pick my battles and the other things bother me more. And then finally, when I am frustrated beyond belief- she reveals that though there are small children in her orphanage- she is not allowed to play with them. She can see them- but is not allowed to interact. And suddenly it starts to make sense. To be able to reach out and interact with a small child- its a luxury and a joy she has never known. Its not just a joy to be loved- its an unfamiliar luxury to be able to love.
Yes, people are messy. In general they are messy. People behave the way they do for a reason. And we unknowingly make decisions all day about which ones will receive our kindness and our grace based on their behavior. We base it on behavior that is usually driven by hurt and brokenness. I do it all day everyday.
And she has challenged me.
I made the extra effort with her only because though I cannot see the brokenness that drives her behavior, I know it is there. And this gives me the ability- through MUCH begging and pleading with God for help- to love her anyway. But a million times a day everyday I make snap judgements about the lady in front of me at Walmart or the cashier at the grocery store and decide they are just rude. I don’t care about their brokenness because my world revolves around me and my time, my convenience, and my agenda. But His agenda is for a broken world and for broken, messy people to know Him.
And this morning, I see for the first time the vast distances between His agenda and mine.
But I also remember how much He loves me.
Even though I’m messy.