i know Mark just posted recently, but i had to write for one of my classes, and i'd like to share it with you...
glad to share our life with you!
All of the sudden significant.
His name is Bruno, and he is 16 years old. He is wrapped in beautiful dark chocolate-colored skin and his white teeth practically glow when he smiles. He is short and lean, and can play a mean soccer game. Bruno is my most recent “suddenly significant” other and my life is fuller since he entered.
His story is very different than mine. I grew up in a healthy home with parents who loved each other and loved me very much. Bruno was raised among shouting fights and he is not sure which man in mom’s life is his real dad. My childhood years were spent with friends, dolls, coloring books, and bicycle. His older brother traded his bike for drugs two years ago. I had the means to travel between two countries, ride a car to school, and carry my material in nice backpacks. Bruno’s been bullied while walking to school and mocked for carrying his school material in grocery bags. My first job was teaching English to business men in town. Bruno’s first job was delivering drugs to the sons and daughters of the rich business men.
And here we are. God’s wondrous braiding kept bringing Bruno into our lives, and the more time we spent with him, the more we wanted to overlap our life and his. Three weeks ago we invited him to be a part of our home, and sudden, enormous changes followed.
You might think the sudden changes were seen in Bruno – that all of the sudden he stopped cussing, or all of the sudden he was incredibly grateful to us, or all of the sudden his music taste improved and now he jams out U2 in his bedroom. But, no. Bruno is still a 16 year old adapting to new and shocking amounts of structure in his life and testing our limits of patience and authority.
But I have changed. As I invite Bruno into a communal, intimate relationship with all the homework, the dirty clothes, the soccer practices, the lack of discipline, the stories of the past… the invitation reframes my own identity. I am, for the first time, keenly aware of how much his identity formation and transformation is dependent and watchful of my reactions and interactions with him and others.
As I am surprised by unpredictable interactions with Bruno, I have started asking myself, “How can I be a person of peace in this situation?” Never before have I been more convinced that example speaks louder than words… especially as I catch his big black eyes closely observing my reactions to him, to other friends, to my husband, to our neighbors, and to tense situations.
How will I show love to Bruno? How will I discipline Bruno? How will I challenge him? How will I help him open his wings and fly high?
How do I understand salvation differently as I reflect on my relationship with Bruno? More than ever before I am challenged to consider the practical aspect of hesed in our reconstituted communal home. I remember my dad preaching about family dynamics and saying, “A family will not know what love is until the parachute is thrown out the door.” He explains that as long as families have a trump card to threaten each other with, an exit strategy up their sleeve, there will be a dysfunctional and insecure dynamic in the home. Hesed, or “steadfast love,” is not a romantic, sweet, dozen-roses kind of love. Hesed is “covenant reliability.” It does not look for a way out at the beginning of the first crisis. It won’t keep the parachute strapped on in case the engine stutters. Hesed is about the long run – good or bad.
As I recognize and live in hesed with the Creator, I am called to extend this depth of commitment to the “other” in my life. I am called to extend this depth of commitment to Bruno, my suddenly significant “son.”
The phone just rang, and it was the school principal where Bruno is studying. They asked for us to come pick him up early, because he started a fight at school. What is hesed now? What does this commitment look like when his behavior is so backwards from an ideal. I think I know what it’s not… it’s not asking him to pack his stuff and leave our home because he once again failed the standards. Maybe it looks more like not protecting him from consequences with the school, then taking him on a long walk and talk, listening to his side of the story and explaining why this will not be allowed as a pattern in this family because no one in this family will be physically aggressive towards him.
I pray now for two things: One, that grace will be extended from the LORD’s throne over us as we make mistakes along the way; and two, that the LORD’s hesed will overflow in our lives onto Bruno’s beautiful self.