Did you see the pictures of Victoria's birthday party? Here's what it looked like behind the scenes:
I asked if she knew how to crack an egg. She said yes. Turns out she didn't. But her smile and look of surprise was worth the mess. It took me 20 minutes to clean out the utensil drawer, which as you can see was unluckily cocked open, and there was goopy egg yolk all over everything... yuck.
She needed that party. She needed to be celebrated. Not in a group setting, as is our custom at the foster home, but in a personal way that reminded her that she is truly special. It was a simple party -- very un-elaborate when compared to birthday parties of 6-year-olds back home… compared to her future parties. But there was something unspeakably beautiful about her joy and the rag-tag group of orphans seated around my table that afternoon.
My heart never stops breaking for them. And I never fail to be astonished at their perseverance and strength; at their unfailing hope and generous love. My friend Tara posted this video on her blog… I love imagining a mom and a dad passionately pursuing each of the children I love with the same intensity of this dad...
I'm not an orphan. But in some ways, I have an orphan's heart. I don't fully understand why… Anyway, no need to go into that, but I want to know I'm wanted and needed and valued. And at the same time, I'm often afraid that I'll let down or disappoint the people who love me most. Afraid that I'll somehow fail to measure up to their expectations and they'll think less of me; even that I'll somehow fail to measure up to God's expectations and He'll think less of me. Just like Victoria, I often try to earn the love of others by being good, noble, honorable…
But you know what, that's not why I threw her a party. I didn't throw her a party because she is a good little girl, noble and honorable in all she does. (Besides the fact, she's not.) I threw her a party because I love her and want her to know that she's precious just the way she is.
People often tell us that we're "good people" for working with orphans. (Or some variant thereof.) But I don't think that has anything to do with it… There are many reasons we're here, but I know one major one for me is that there were some things God knew needed to be worked out of my heart and out of my identity, and He knew sending me to a place where orphans would gather around my table for a birthday party would help me to face my own brokenness and often unnamed pain and fear.
He brought me here so that He could throw me a party. And with each day, I'm getting closer to letting Him...