I have failed to do some important things in my life recently that I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit. With the annoying combination of laziness, forgetfulness, selfishness and busyness, I have managed to maintain a dull sense of guilt for years. Consider the following:
I failed to write anything in Elijah’s baby book since his 3rd birthday (he’s 9). Elliana doesn’t even have a baby book. I failed to document the days Rebekah and Elijah prayed to commit their lives to Jesus. I failed to keep current the journals I bought for each child. Journals where I intend to record my deepest dreams and desires for each of them—not to mention, record monumental days like praying to commit their lives to Jesus.
But wait…there’s more:
I failed to call my friend Marcie and invite her over to talk after her husband Carl died from brain cancer in May. I failed to take a meal to Joy and her family after the birth of her baby, even after I called and promised her I would when we returned home from vacation in July. I failed to replace the camera that fell into Lake Michigan in August, thus failing to capture images of Elijah’s 9th birthday and Rebekah’s first day of middle school.
Oh, boy, this is painful….
I began sponsoring a child in India through World Vision two years ago, and since that time, I have failed to write even one letter to that sweet boy, despite repeated requests from my children to do so. But it gets better: Rebekah actually took it upon herself to write him a letter a year ago and handed it to me to mail (how easy can this be?) and I rather than mailing it, I stuck it in a file to do later…and then forgot.
Dude, I. never. mailed. the. letter. I’m pretty sure that little maneuver wins me the title of Lamest (most lame?) Child Sponsor in the Entire Western Hemisphere.
So imagine my excitement when I went blog-hopping the other night (feeling guilty, of course, because I have no business being on the internet when, clearly, I have more important things to do) and found a post written by Lisa-Jo entitled “Lame Sponsors of the World Unite.”
With guilt-ridden interest, I read how a group of bloggers recently returned from a trip to Guatemala with Compassion International, many of them coming facet-to-face for the very first time with the children they sponsor.
Don’t you know, God was just mopping the floors with my broken heart, as I scrolled through pictures and stories of their trip—which I’m sure has absolutely NOTHING to do with the fact that I have a daughter from that country and feel an eternal connection to every precious Guatemalan on Planet Earth. *wipes tears*
Lisa-Jo declared her own lameness for only writing to her sponsored child about 4 times a year (that’s lame?), and wondered if it really mattered that she seldom writes letters. Do the kids care or even KNOW if their sponsors are writing? (Please, God, let the answer to that question be “no.” Please please please tell me it doesn’t matter…)
Apparently, it does matter. A lot. One young man who has been in the Compassion International Center for 14 years said,
“We save all our letters….And even though when we were little, Compassion workers read them to us, when we grew up we could read them ourselves. So we go back and start at the beginning. We read every letter again to get to know our Sponsors better….It tells me someone loves me…It’s confirmation of what I learn at the Center—that God values me.”
I wonder what our sponsored child thinks when the mail comes week after week, and there is nothing there for him. Dear God, is there any hope for this lame, self-centered heart of mine?
So, Tuesday night I fought through laziness, forgetfulness, selfishness and busyness and declared it the night the Cooper family sits down together to write letters to Baiaraplang, our sponsored child.
I retrieved the file folder where I have saved every correspondence from World Vision—and where I happened to stick the letter Rebekah wrote a year ago. I laid out blank paper, pens, pencils, crayons, scissors, coloring books and stickers. Then, I took out a picture of Baiaraplang and propped it in the middle of the kitchen table.
(I’m sure all of this would be more dramatic with pictures…but, you know, the camera…)
Each of the kids gazed at his picture and went to work creating letters and drawings. We talked about poverty and material wealth. We prayed as a family for his safety and salvation. Then we carefully folded each letter and work of art and placed it in an envelope addressed to World Vision.
This time, though, I didn’t place it back in the file folder. Instead, I drove it directly to the post office where it is now on its way to Baiaraplang.
And then I walked over to our calendar and wrote on a Tuesday in October “Write more letters to Baiaraplang.” Because, dear friends, this will be a monthly event in the Cooper home.
One small step out of lameness, into the realm of selflessness. Maybe there is hope for me, after all.