Our foster daughter “Autumn” (not her real name) has been a complete ball of energy and joy since the day she moved in. At just one year old she is a cuddly little ham bone who loves making faces, playing “chase” and babbling up a storm. But I would be lying if I told you that bringing a child into our home who has been raised for the past year by a different set of foster parents is all smiles and rainbows. It’s interesting how much adjusting everyone in our family has had to go through. For Henrik and Lucia, well, they gained another sibling. For Justin and I well, we “had” another baby. But for Autumn, she has switched parents and gone from an only child to suddenly being the youngest with 2 older siblings. Not to mention that she seems to have some attachment struggles (who wouldn’t when you’ve been hauled around to different visits with parents and relatives your entire short life). Attachment disorders seem to display in two different ways: a child may become more reserved and introverted to protect themselves from loss and hurt, or they can easily interact and bond with anyone who will give them attention to get their needs met by whoever is willing to do so. I feel our little lady is a perfect example of the latter. She is very outgoing, an extreme people-pleaser, and willing to let any and everyone hold her.
I never knew her being like this would be so hard for me.
Having babysat her quite a bit before she was placed in our home, I was aware she seemed to have some of these tendencies. Knowing this, my husband and I have been very proactive in helping her bond and learn to trust us as her “parents” and primary care givers. No one, beside myself, has given her a bottle since she came into our family. We don’t let other people feed her and we do all the cuddling, bonding and care taking. To be honest we’ve already seen huge improvement in just a few short weeks.
… But the other day… was a bad day.
I was visiting with a dear friend (and fellow HHH writer) at her home. After being there a little while, Autumn started to latch on to my friend. She cried when she left the room, tried crawling all over her while she sat on the floor and tried to leave (me) and follow my friend each time she left the room. I was so caught of guard! Still? After all these weeks of making progress at home?
I was jealous.
Autumn let’s us cuddle with her now. She lets us give her kisses and lets us help her do things. Why after all this did she want my friend over me? Seriously? Isn’t she starting to realize now that I’m her “mom”? I’m there for her at 2am when she is fussy and gassy. I’m the one feeding her, bathing her, taking care of her. I am the one teaching her that the stairs are dangerous and that it’s best to crawl off the couch backwards! As nice as my friend is, doesn’t she realize whatever quick “fix” she is looking for from her will be short lived? Will my friend be there when she bumps her head tomorrow? Will she be there when a kid at school picks on her? Will she be the one saying her prayers with her every night? No. She won’t, But… I will (Lord willing). I love her; all I want is for her to see that; to understand that; to trust in that. I want her to let me love her.
Then God taught me a lesson:
Wow. Reality check.
I’ve always read about God being a jealous God, and on the surface, I got it.
Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. -Exodus 34:14
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” –Matthew 23:37
He wants to be my one and only. For me to love him above all others and not turn away to other gods. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I got it. But as I thought about the morning with our sweet little Autumn, my understanding of this principle exploded. For the first time I could see it! I could see why God is jealous. He is my FATHER. He knows me better than anyone, has been investing in my life since it’s very beginning. He has been teaching me right and wrong, guiding me, loving me, drawing me close everyday, and what do I do? Run after a quick fix. It’s unbelievable how quickly we will run away from our all loving God and his will for our life and try to satisfy ourselves in the way we think is best. Look at the world: Adultery, divorce, sex, workaholics, food, our relationships with friends or even our career or our spouse. We are constantly trying to satisfy our deep desire for love and purpose in all the wrong places.
Now when I read these passages, I’m so thankful! Praise God that he is a jealous God! He desires ME, my undivided love, my unwavering trust and in him there is never disappointment or rejection. He is the ultimate fulfillment. All he asks is that I trust him. That I let him LOVE me. That I allow him to draw near. That I don’t push him away for the quick fixes I run to so often.
These days when I look at Autumn, I mostly see myself. I see my relationship with God outlined in a whole new way. I see the amazing love that God took me, broken and scarred as I was, and adopted me into is family anyway. He took my shortcomings and all and loved me despite them and has promised me new life in him. How can I not do the same thing for the precious lives God has placed in my own home?