Sometimes the answer to the call isn't quite what we think it will be.
We've been here at the Manuelito Navajo Children's Home for over a week now. It's been incredible so far. And hard.
Like for one thing -
I am not superwoman after all. Trying to do everything for everyone and not disappoint, and please, and connect, and serve...
Well, it's just not sustainable.
Cause I'm failing at every turn, and dropping balls (and dishes) all over the place.
Which is probably exactly where God wants me to be. Recognizing my lame-ness, that is. Recognizing my need for help; for strength & endurance beyond what I can muster in this un-air-conditioned, teeny-apartment-above-the-gym, baking-hot desert-heat.
So, seriously - when we first got here? I actually thought I was some kinda superwoman force. I kept it up for about a week. The superwoman-dream-state pretense, that is. But by yesterday, my spandex supersuit felt way too tight, and my dang cape was in shreds from catching in all the fans (to blow that baking-hot desert-heat around a bit), and my superwoman crown was long since knocked askew and blown off across the sandy landscape.
By this morning it was meltdown time.
Full-blown fury and crying and self-pity and accusations against my husband & kids & everyone here & pretty much the whole wide world.
So blah, blah, blah; pity-party, poor me, right?
The thing is, I come to this place again & again, where I've got my head so far up my own donkey, all I can smell is my own stink...and I completely lose sight of the bigger picture.
Like little Monica, dropped off here the morning before her 2nd birthday. Sitting next to me every day, working on phonics and writing and basic math concepts. Struggling to sort thru pains of abuse and abandonment she doesn't even fathom. She calls me "teacher!" and wraps her little brown arms around my neck every morning. Her house parents are 'Mommy' and 'Daddy' to her, all that she knows; they are quiet heroes, giving their lives to care for orphans in their distress.
Monica's 'Daddy' also grew up here at the Children's Home. Norman was rescued from acute neglect when he was two, and his house parents became 'Mommy' and 'Daddy' to him. And now, with grown kids of their own, Norman & his wife answered God's call to return to this barren reservation land, and give back. In a beautiful, heart-wrenching twist, little Monica brings Norman's story full-circle.
Yesterday she left my little pre-school classroom, clutching her coloring pages and vowels-worksheet, and ran across the hall to Norman, yelling with the glee of a typical 5-year old, "Daddddeeeee!"
The only Daddy she will ever know. And yet, Norman and Cathy can't even adopt little Monica. When these kids are dropped off - it is voluntary - a private affair, with no termination of parental rights. And yet in most cases, with no further connection from the parent. Utter abandonment. With no hope of adoption. Orphans, in the most hopeless sense. Cathy cried, with frustration & fear, when she told me about it. Fear of pressing into adoption, pressing to terminate parental rights, only to have Monica's parents or relatives possessively yank her back onto the reservation. It happens. And so Cathy cherishes each day, and tries not to live in fear. She holds on tightly, but she's knows it's ultimately not in her control. She's no superwoman.
Strikingly beautiful, grasping-for-affirmation, quietly-fierce Jessica...she's been here since she was two. She's fifteen now. Her house parents are 'Mom' and 'Dad' to her too. When the other teens aren't around, that is. Annette & Merle take it in stride when she calls them by name. She's still their little girl, and they're in it for the long haul, talking with her about future plans, and hopes for college. They've been here for almost two decades, quietly loving and caring and giving their lives for God's call. Annette runs a tight ship, and keeps a beautiful home. Tiny flowers strain to bloom in the desert sun, carefully watered & protected in landscaping barrels. Many of the blossoms end up looking scorched and withered, and Annette shrugs her shoulders, "well, I just do what I can!" She's not superwoman either.
Ian and Canyon beg every afternoon to go play with their new friend Xavier. He's got an impish grin, huge brown eyes, and a surprisingly tender streak. The three of them are becoming fast friends, along with Xavier's older brother Dylan, and housemate AJ. Most of the boys live together, with the newest house parents, Jim & Jennifer. Jennifer has been a wellspring of comfort & encouragement to me, with her sincerity and down-to-earth hospitality. She confessed this afternoon that they still feel new...and struggle with wondering if they are doing things wrong, or messing it all up. After raising daughters, she's walking a new journey with a houseful of boys to love and care for. I can see her wince at their rough-housing play, yet with her naturally laid-back attitude, she's learning to take it in stride. She's passionate about trying to feed them healthy fare, cut back on sugar, and limit processed food. But when the food donations come in, she just throws her arms in the air, grins her endearing grin, and sets out the plates for the inevitable white-bread sandwiches. No, she's not superwoman after all.
They're just regular people. Doing hard, extraordinary things. Loving well, sometimes cranky, struggling to pay the bills, not enough time to connect with their husbands...success and failure intermingled, just like the rest of us.
So I guess I'm learning -
I don't have to be superwoman after all.
I see now that God doesn't expect me to be superwoman, not even a bit. And honestly, even more of a tangible relief, no one else expects it of me either.
Seems like the most important thing I can do is just show up; be willing to step into the hard work of His calling, with all my successes and failures intermingled, flaws and gifts and sins and good-intent, all in the mix.
And let God take it from there.
Trying to be superwoman lately? How's that going?
And seriously - any helpful ideas on how to ditch the cape???