This morning (well, what is now yesterday morning since I am currently sitting in Heathrow Airport on the morning of the 16th) as I sat in church and made eye contact with Johnstone, Martin, Moses, Centrine, Ajix, Brian, Etau, Jennifer, Irene, Winnie, Kamau, Steward, Wiki, Paul, Ayo…I was struck by my love for each of them.
For years I’ve heard people talk about how much they love their children. I’ve heard parents say that when their second child was born, they didn’t know if they would be able to love him or her as much as they love their first, and yet, somehow, that love is there…as though the love they had multiplied itself.
I felt that this morning. It was such a powerful, and strange feeling; to feel this care and love for each of these kids. That it could be equally gigantic for each of them.
I’ve heard pastor’s speak about the new understanding of God’s love that came with the birth of their first child. And I think I also caught a glimpse of that in this moment. If God’s love for me, for each of us, is even on the level of my love for these kids, then it must be huge…yet, I know that God’s love for me is indescribably, immeasurably more than I could ever even imagine. I wonder, sometimes, how it is possible for God to know and love each of us constantly and equally…today, I think I understand it a little bit more…not completely, but just that much more.
My iPod went missing from my bedroom on Saturday. Though, for the mess I had made packing, it could be buried—deeply—in 7 months worth of suitcase junk, I am pretty sure it was taken by one of the dozen people that were in and out of the place during the day. We had 8 of the 10 older house boys over, plus 6 or 7 people who work on the compound and walked back and forth through the house all day. I didn’t realize it was missing until about 11 o’clock, when I went to charge it for the flights home. I called the boys house, just to check if someone had taken it with the intention of bringing it back to church. They were asleep, of course, but woke up to dig through the bag of stuff they had taken home to make sure it wasn’t in there…
The funny thing is, as I thought about this in correlation with the idea of God’s love, I came to grasp it a little bit more. As much as our sin upsets God, His response is not always anger. I had always thought that, if I were God, I would be enraged at our human inability to just “get it right”. But, as I thought about this potential theft by these former street boys, I was not angry; I was heart-broken. I felt no need to yell or punish; I only wanted to cry. I wanted to cry over my desire to jump in and help them make the right decisions in life, to keep them from doing something that would make their lives more difficult or cause more grief in their young, already crazy, stories.
I’d like to think that this is how God looks at me in my moments of weakness, in the moments that I disappoint him. I think he must shake his head in sadness at my repeat offenses. He must fight the urge to step in and cause me to do things the right way…to keep me from causing any more unnecessary heartbreak or pain in my already crazy human life.
I am very confident, after seeing their faces and hearing their confused, sympathetic voices, that none of them took the iPod. I am still really hoping that it is somewhere in my suitcases, but have a sinking feeling that someone else took it, knowing that it would appear as though one of the boys had a momentary lapse in judgment and stepped back in to street kid life.
Though, I suppose my life is not in any considerable way similar to the life of a former street boy…and it is probably a simple-minded generalization to even make this connection, I am, today, feeling more connected to their lives than ever before.
I am fighting to make the right choice each day; to run from my past life of living and fending for myself. And trying, everyday, to learn to let myself be loved and cared for in a way that I don’t understand, and honestly feel I don’t always deserve.
And now I am sitting the middle of the departures terminal at Heathrow airport in tears…I am a mess of emotion: missing Kitale, overwhelmed by my love for these kids and God’s love for me…