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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

More Important Than Furniture

Recently, I read some words (literally, just six words) from Keith Thompson, veteran foster parent, that have pretty much revolutionized my life. Here's what he said:

"Children are more important than furniture."

Ok, I know this is not some kind of huge, earth shattering truth. It's something that should have been pretty obvious to me already. But I'm sinful, and I'm fallen. And I admit it... I love my stuff. And I want my stuff treated lovingly.
If there is one area where I struggle, in a truly desperate way, with my newly adopted children -- this is it. I try not to love my stuff -- my furniture, my house, my car, my things... but my wicked little heart wants to fight for all of it.

Sure, I can lie to myself and slap a pretty Christian title on this love-of-stuff. Sometimes I call it "good stewardship." You know -- we take care of our stuff because God gave us our stuff and He wants us to be good stewards of the things He entrusts to us. And there is some good, biblical truth to this idea of stewardship... but stewardship should never come at all costs. It definitely shouldn't come at the cost of a child's little spirit. Because children are more important than things. Period.

I should back up and explain that before we adopted Hannah and Joseph, people told us to beware of all this. They told us to batten down the hatches in our home. To prepare for every thing in our house to be broken, cracked or destroyed.

Now y'all know I don't usually put a lot of stock in what "they" have to say. But in this area, They weren't kidding.

Logically, it makes perfect sense -- I mean why would a child who has never owned any personal possessions know how to care for things? Why would a child who is accustomed to living in day-to-day survival mode for food and other necessities suddenly grasp this crazy western concept of stewardship?

In the last month alone, Joseph has taken scissors to my kitchen curtains, pulled the trim off of my beautiful polka dot fabric pillows, ripped a gaping hole in his brand new crocs and destroyed more shirts than I can count. Hannah has all but balded Madeline's American Girl doll, worn a hole through her new dress shoes and ripped pages out of countless books. They pulled the handle off of their bathtub, they've broken dishes and picture frames, they crashed Baby Charlotte's tricycle. Today they almost broke our garage door.

Almost all of this destruction is purely innocent -- it happens out of curiosity and honest ignorance. But it happens. A lot.

Everytime one of my new babes displays one these acts of "sinful and careless stewardship," I am tempted to display one of my own acts of sinful and careless anger. I am often tempted to scream "WHY would you do such a thing? How could you possibly think this was ok??"

And the Lord speaks to my heart and reminds me that I know perfectly well why they would do these things... They are broken and hurt and they've never had stuff before so they don't know how to take care of it. And frankly, it's just stuff.

For so many reasons, I am thankful to live a life that daily lends itself to these struggles. Each day I must intentionally choose... what's really important to me?

"For where your treasure lies, there your heart will be also." -- Matt 6:21, NIV


The Fruitful Family said...

...and then there was that life-size stuffed monkey. Bless his heart. Or what's left of it.

Audrey @ The Brown Brigade said...

I really needed to read this tonight!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your insight! I'd never thought about this, hadn't even crossed my mind. You've made me more aware through your candid look inside your family. Thank you for sharing your heart.

Christen said...

Thank you. I love your openness and really needed to hear this. I totally struggle with trying to keep "our" stuff "nice" and sometimes at the expense of others, especially my daughter.... I find myself saying "Please! Don't put your messy hand on mommy's couch!" like its only mine or something! Definitely need to work on this especially before we bring new little ones into our home :)

Mandi said...

note to self...prepare for what Shelly is saying...prepare my home and my heart for more letting go and being sensitive to their spirits...learning this everyday with my first three blessings. Love your BLOG!!! can't say it enough:)

Wild Olive said...

I was just looking at my once beautiful yellow chair, disgusted with how brown, worn out and dirty it has become. I keep telling Lucas that we should have it recovered (in a darker fabric), and he always says..."why? it's just gonna keep on getting dirty!". I guess he's right. And I guess I shouldn't care, either. We are constantly getting frustrated with the breakage of things around here from our new little ones, but we have to continually remind ourselves of the same thing...they've never HAD anything to take care of, so why should we expect them to know how to do it properly?!? Long-suffering is a term that keeps coming to mind...and letting go of stuff. We just look at each other, roll our eyes and say, "It's just stuff...it's all gonna burn on Judgement Day anyway."

Good word, T.

Kim said...

Thank you for the reminder. My three children now are rough enough on things...I can't imagine what it will be like when my boys get here. Learning now that things of this world don't matter...people and souls do!

Queen Los said...

Love this!! I so know what you are talking about especially as women our "dominion" is like our castle we want it to look picture perfect.. It's so hard but you are so right Children are more important then funiture!

Nancy said...

Shelly, you are such an encouragment to me! Heard you speak at Created for Care in February and just found GoodtobeCrazy.com a few weeks ago. LOVE & appreciate the honesty, candor & glory to Him! Thank you!