Our twin boys are very excited. All day long they asked us, "When is he coming? Will he be here for supper?" We had told them we were getting another foster placement. A boy their age, no less.
On the one hand, we were excited they were excited. I mean, an additional child in the mix can shift the balance of power in any family, much less one cobbled together from the driftwood of broken homes. Nonetheless, they were excited to show him the ropes and fill him in on how the house runs. They couldn't wait to tell him about dinner time, memory verse practice, mom's school lunches, and even when he did arrive, they even let him know he would get used to us in a few days.
They knew. They didn't consciously know, but they knew. They knew he was nervous, probably scared and lonely.
They knew what it was like to be pulled away from everything you knew in a moment.
They knew that all their lives people had told them not to talk to strangers, and now they were asking you to live with them.
What struck me was how oblivious they seemed to the fact this exciting new addition was predicated by something terrible. If a child is placed in a foster home, he or she has to have been removed from their own. This didn't even register with the boys, at least not in their conscious minds anyway.
We actually had to remind them they were once in his shoes. They were scared and nervous, too.
What they don't realize is how special the skills they have are. These kiddos have managed to endure and sometimes thrive having dealt with things no one should ever experience. They have survival skills; some good, some not so good. They knew instinctively this young man was going to have a million questions, and they had answers.
They knew what he needed. They knew he was going to need friends, and they were ready to be there for him.
They made his transition better, and they don't even know how important that is.
Like many of us, God has used them to shine His light in a very dark place ... and they don't even realize it ... yet. One day they will. They will have emotions that sometimes they can't understand. Tender spots on their hearts that drive them to action, to give, to love.
It reminds me of those videos that go viral showing how homeless people who were given food and money turn around and give it away to other homeless people ... because they know. They know hunger, loneliness, and the pain of being alone.
Suffering causes our sense of awareness to go on high alert for things that matter. It hones our sensitivity to God's Word and plan. Suffering allows us to identify it in others, and drives us to desperately want to relieve it.
I was proud of my boys, the big ones, too. They are seeing first hand what it means to step into dark places and shine His light. What they don't always realize is His light shines through theirs. They are learning to love deeply, even when it is uncomfortable. They are learning to be doers of the Word, not hearers only ... and they don't even know it.