I have spent the past week on a Thailand Compassion Sponsor Tour. You might recall I did this last year, too. But this year has been different for me – we now have a sponsor child in Thailand and I got to spend a whole day with him. I have many tales to tell and they will come, but I am going to start with this one.
It’s about a husband and a father. A man who loves deeply, unselfishly, and unashamedly. He is currently a single dad – but not by choice. His wife has made some bad decisions. I do not know her story. I know she chose a lifestyle that is not compatible with raising children. I don’t know why she chose this, but I know we all make bad decisions, some more serious than others. Her’s started with her leaving her family and has now led her to jail. It has left her children motherless and her husband alone.
Her husband is raising their 12 year old son and their 11 and 9 year old daughters. The children attend school and they attend to their chores. They help their father. They are the picture of dutiful. I am sure that they do this because they feel it is their responsibility, but it is more than that. In the short time I spent in their home I was impressed by the love they so obviously have for each other. And by their hopefulness for a better future.
The father is a construction worker by trade. It is what he has spent his life doing, but he is no longer able to work as he once was. He has lost much of his sight and requires a great deal of light to see the very little he is able to see. He might be limited in what he is able to do, but he does still work. In construction. Doing the tasks he is able to “feel”. The ones that the years of doing over and over have caused to become like breathing for him. This does limit his earning potential. Some money is better than no money, but it’s not the same as enough. He was the one who did the cooking for the family. Chopping and slicing and stir-frying take on an added degree of difficulty when you cannot see what you are chopping and slicing and stir-frying so his son has taken over the cooking. He sits with his son and instructs him. He teaches him recipes, techniques, seasoning. His son hopes to be a chef one day and is daily being mentored for this by his father. His daughters both want to be teachers. He encourages them both. He tells them they can be teachers – that they are not defined by their current situation.
His wife is soon to be released from jail. He loves her dearly and He wants more than anything for her to return home – to be a mother to their children. To be a partner for him. He wants her to be an active part of their family. He has arranged for her to have a sewing machine. He has arranged clients for her. He has set her up to succeed. His children see this. They know what she has done. They know that there is stigma attached to her having been in jail. They know that their father does not have to welcome her back. And they see that he wants her. That he loves her. That he has not given up on her. And still she has a choice to make. She can choose not to return to them. To leave them motherless and their father alone or she can choose to join them. But the choice is hers. It has not been made for her.
Meeting this family helped me process an issue I’ve been struggling with. For a few months I’ve been working through a crisis of faith. I’ve been wondering just what it is that makes me worthy of God’s love. I know the answer to this – head knowledge they call it. But knowing and feeling are two separate things and my belief and my feelings weren’t in agreement. After meeting this family I realized that the way that husband loves his wife is just a shadow of the way God loves me. The way that husband wants his wife to be a part of their family is what God wants from me. God’s not going anywhere and the only thing he has for me is good. Plans for my success. And it’s my choice, no one can make it for me.