A few weeks ago I wrote about a young-boy who has moved into my yard and stolen my heart.
I wrote about what a huge blessing he turned out to be and how he has become a sort of tangible symbol of God moving and working in my life.
Weeeeeelll, about that…
It hasn’t been all roses.
For one thing, a new boy has moved in next door and if my first adopted neighbor-boy was rough, this new one is REALLY rugged.
Think more cussing, and less manners.
If my first boy aimed to please this new boy aims to avoid.
And yet, still, there is a sweetness.
Still a subtle desire to be accepted and loved, and once again
But, it has complicated things.
First, this boy isn’t very nice to me, or my kids. He wants to play over here, but his manners need a LOT of work.
Second, my son, my beautiful first born-baby, said a curse word to my husband.
Actually he yelled it,
Right after church.
It was a completely innocent moment. Truly. My son definitely didn’t realize what he was saying, but there it is. The very reason to not allow these ragamuffin boys into our life.
They are corrupting my babies.
How dare they.
I constantly have to re-evaluate this decision to love and accept these boys into my life when these issues show up. Issues like cussing, issues like having their toys ALL over my yard on a daily basis.
I’m sure there is a balance between loving these kids and protecting mine. But I’m nervous I won’t find it.
When I first wrote about my decision to open our lives up to our neighbors I titled the post, “He called me out upon the waters.” I LOVE the song “Oceans” by Hillsong United, I constantly feel inspired and convicted by those lyrics. Especially this idea of being asked to join my savior out on the water.
In the Bible, when the story of Jesus walking on the water occurs he is walking towards his disciples who are fearing for their lives on a boat. During this truly intense moment Jesus asks Peter to take a step of faith, climb out of the boat, and join him on the water.
I’ve grown up hearing this story all my life, the downside of being raised in the church is often times these beautiful stories start to lose their meaning.
When I looked at this story with fresh eyes I noticed something. When Jesus called out to Peter it was during a storm. This water that Peter attempted to walk on was rough, so rough that these men, who were fishermen by trade, were scared for their lives.
I don’t know how I’d missed that before.
When God calls us to join him, to experience the majestic, the miraculous, he doesn’t always promise smooth sailing.
It takes a serious leap of faith to attempt walking on water anyway, but to attempt it during a storm is a truly scary proposition.
When I pledged to love my neighbor-boy I was still promising to love a relatively loveable-boy.
Perhaps God was easing me in.
And now he is stretching me.
Now he is introducing a boy who is much rougher, who lives much closer, who demands much more patience.
In the Biblical story, Peter does join Jesus on the water, but after noticing the waves, after realizing just how dangerous the water was, he began to sink.
Once his faith was challenged he lost it.
Will I sink now that my love is being stretched? Will this boy be a wave that is just too big to walk through?
Sometimes when he ignores me, acts tough, or says something rude, I think it is.
But, by the grace of God, I get these little moments that soften my heart again.
The other morning I came home to this:
The boys had built a road and a jump out of the decorative rocks in my front yard. At first I was irritated that they didn’t clean up when they were done. But just like the Biblical story I’d heard so much that I’d missed the point, when I looked at this mess with fresh eyes I realized something.
These boys chose to play in my yard,
when we weren’t even home,
They chose to play here rather then stay in their houses where I know they both have video games, and television.
I guess they must like it here,
They must feel safe.
Maybe these waters aren’t so rough after all.
I still want to protect my children as much as I can, but I do desperately want to protect these boys as well. It means I don’t get to simply relax and let them play. It means paying close attention, being aware of their play, their words, their attitudes. It means having to discipline more children, having to serve more food, having to practice patience and kindness on a constant basis.
But, I know I can do it. I can walk these waters, I can stay afloat in these storms.
Maybe it’s not all roses, but I’m choosing to view these boys, and their messes, like they are.
I have room for both.