Nothing shakes your world like returning from a third world country that is riddled with disease and poverty. Nothing makes you question yourself, your motives, and your own sanity more than trying to blend your old worldview with your new. Nothing makes you want to raise compassionate children like meeting people the world has forgotten.
I have amazing kids. They are sweet and well-behaved (most days), but they are typical American children. They have too much. They want things instantly and easily. They think about themselves first.
They look a lot like their parents.
After returning from my heartbreaking and hopeful trip to Africa, I knew I had to change the way we lived. I wasn’t motivated by guilt; I was moved by compassion. My kids love to play follow the leader. They follow their parents. We’ve just been showing them the American view: bigger houses, nicer cars, more toys, and fitting God into all that stuff.
On a Saturday, I explained to my kids that we would be giving up the occasional house cleaner who made our life easier. I taught them to clean toilets. “Why are we doing this again?” my daughter asked. I pointed to the faces of the four children we were sponsoring through Compassion International, smiling down from their pictures on our refrigerator.
She wiped a strand of hair from her eyes, nodded, and went back to scrubbing. She stopped and said thoughtfully, “Mom, I’d like to fill the front of our refrigerator with pictures of children from all over the world.”
It turns out my children were just waiting for their leaders to show them the world. They love praying for a new country at dinner every night. They can’t wait to write to the kids we sponsor. They understand the choice to buy secondhand clothes and less stuff so that we can make our money matter more.
I thought the changes we made in our home would be hard for my kids. I thought there might be resistance. But they love the view and the pictures on our refrigerator.
"Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (James 1:27)
Lord, I love you. I want to be like you. I want my children to love others. I want them to be compassionate people. I know that we are saved by grace through faith and not by our works, but I pray that my works are evidence to the world of what you are doing in me. My children are following me; please help me lead them to you. Amen.
This article was excerpted from Kristen Welch's book Don't Make Me Come Up There! (c) 2011 Abingdon Press. Used with permission
Kristen Welch is a mom just like you and me. Her blog, "We Are THAT Family" (www.wearethatfamily.com), delights more than 70,000 women a month with Kristin's often hilarious, alway honest reflections on motherhood, marriage, and Christian life. Kristin lives in Texas with her husband and three children. In 2010 she went to Kenya as a blogger for Compassion International. Royalties from her book will benefit The Mercy House, a home for pregnant girls living on the streets of Kenya.