How do you love a child who will not love you back?
|Desse in 2008|
For me, this question conjures up images of Desse, a child I’ve known for going on four years now. As the original beneficiary for The Forsaken Children’s partner project, Children’s Home Ethiopia, I have loved Desse. Honestly, I have also hated him (Is that too honest?). You see, no matter what has been done for this little boy, he always goes back… Goes back to the streets… Goes back to the drugs… Goes back to running from the staff and me when he sees us on the streets looking for him.
|“I know love is a choice, but when he’s back the choice seems to be made for me. Then he’s gone just like before.”|
And then, he always comes back. When he’s back, Desse is amazing (yes, he is a pain at times, but I’m speaking in general here.). He sings beautifully, he smiles a lot, he gives hugs, and he is so repentant. In those moments, love for Desse comes easy. I know love is a choice, but when he’s back the choice seems to be made for me. Then he’s gone just like before.
I have learned so much about myself when Desse leaves. I have learned how dependent I am on my feelings. I have learned how needy I am for love in return for my own. I have learned how unlike Jesus I am and it hurts. For a moment I hate Desse for that.
Fortunately, the hate has not persisted. With a little time and encouragement my heart softens again. Before this happens I usually make broad sweeping statements like, “he cannot be allowed to come back!” “He must learn from this mistake, let him feel the consequences.” No, these comments are not necessarily wrong or bad in and of themselves, but the heart motive behind them makes them wrong. They are not based in love, in true concern for Desse. They’re based in my hurt and my selfish desire to receive love. Until I have resolved to truly love Desse no matter what he does in return, I should not make such decisions about him and because of accountability, I don’t.
|“Desse is 1 of approximately 100,000 street children in Addis Ababa and Nega looks for and finds him… No matter what your opinion is of such an act you have to agree that it is mighty selfless.”|
In such an instance, my accountability is Nega, Director of Children’s Home Ethiopia. What a good person to keep me accountable. The man truly embodies what love is with the children he ministers to. When I think about his consistent response to Desse’s rebellion I am blown away. No, I don’t think Nega is perfect, but his heart is unmoved by Desse’s rejection. In 2008 Nega searched for and found Desse 15 different times after he had run away. Think about it. Desse is 1 of approximately 100,000 street children in Addis Ababa and Nega looks for and finds him. That’s like finding a needle in a haystack. No matter what your opinion is of such an act (maybe you think he’s wasting his time, or enabling Desse, or etc…), you have to agree that it is mighty selfless. It’s unconditional love if you ask me. Whether he stays off the streets or not, that love impacts Desse for an even greater purpose, for Christ.
I want to be more like Nega, don’t you?