As I Was Saying is a forum for a variety of perspectives to foster faith-related conversations among our readers with the goal of mutual learning, even in disagreement. Apart from articles written by editorial staff, these perspectives do not necessarily reflect the views of The Banner.
Every night, I gently tuck my younger son into bed beneath a hand-sewn green and yellow quilt with a giant Pikachu (Pokémon character) stitched on top. How he loves this wonderful quilt: when little else in his life was consistent, he could always count on cuddling under it at night, no matter in what bed he was sleeping or at what house.
Really, the quilt is a mystery. A female name and date (2016) are sewn into one corner of the quilt, but my son doesn’t recognize the name or have any memory of how he came to own this quilt.
I wonder about this named-yet-unknown quilt creator. Why did she craft this special quilt for our son? Was she a member of his extended birth family? A foster parent? One of his many caregivers over the years? Maybe she was a kind stranger who donated quilts to police stations to be distributed to children during crisis calls.
It’s a mystery we’ll likely never solve, just as much of the specifics of the first years of our son’s life are forgotten, as happens when you don’t have at least one consistent parent who is the memory-keeper of a child’s early years.
However, we do know that 2016 was a particularly hard year for our son—and yet, at some point during that year, someone cared enough to sew him a quilt so precious that all these years later he still sleeps beneath it every night. I wonder if that woman has any idea of the multi-year investment of comfort she made in his life.
It brings to mind a recent sermon I heard by Pastor Harold Roscher, director and chaplain of the Edmonton Native Healing Centre.
His sermon—Tawaw, which in Cree means “there is room”—focused on how God makes room for all people and how we are called to follow this example.
“Jesus came not to be in the world but for the world. Naturally, as followers of Christ, that means we ought to be for the world,” said Roscher.
“Are we, the people of God, gracious enough to make room and spaces where we feel sometimes we’re just inadequate? Or where we don’t fully understand another person’s perspective? Jesus modeled even in his birth that there is room. There is always room.”
Roscher used the story of the Samaritan woman at the well to exemplify how Jesus always made room for others. Jesus had no pre-established relationship with the woman or business reason to talk to her. But his response to her was a resounding “there is room for me to sit with you and converse with you.”
The sermon resonated with me not only because it reflected the kindness of an unknown woman who “made room” for my son in sewing him a cherished quilt but also because my husband and I heard it while in the midst of a critical decision on whether we “had room” to welcome another child.
In the four months since adopting our third child (the boy with the quilt), we had the privilege of getting to know his little brothers. We quickly came to love them and were overjoyed when our son’s adoption social worker asked if we’d consider adopting his middle brother.
It wasn’t a simple decision. My family has unique challenges. We already have three kids, two of whom are now adults. All need support and/or care beyond typical due to disabilities of varying kinds. And I live with significant mobility and communication disabilities.
However, while some days are not easy in our anything-but-typical family, we have the capacity to add and care well for another child. God has created in our hearts a deep love for adopting older children from care.
We wrestled with the decision.
As Roscher’s sermon continued, he shared the story of the Good Samaritan, querying, “Do you want to be the priest and Levite who walk on the other side of the street? Or do you want to be the individual who says, ‘There’s room to minister, to help, to heal the broken’?”
And yet, making room can come at a cost. Often, it isn’t easy.
“In the dark moments in our lives, our strength comes from the Sovereign Lord, because he is for the world. He is for you and me. It doesn’t matter who or what, Jesus is there for you.”
This is something I relate to in the road my family walks. There’s not much glamor, but there can be a lot of pain, in parenting very hurt children who have endured tremendous trauma. And it’s not easy living with health issues, severe chronic pain, and disabilities, as I’ve done since a car accident 23 years ago.
And yet, through the hard situations, God has been there. He’s gone beside us, in front of us, and behind us. He’s led us down the best path for our lives. He’s used the hardships to instill in us strength and resilience to face new challenges head on. He has shown us time and again that we “can do all things through him who strengthens” us (Phil. 4:13 ESV).
Roscher brought our attention to when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. “This was a completely unheard-of action in those days, a teacher washing his students’ feet! Why would he do that? Because Jesus was for his disciples, he was for the world. Our challenge is, can we be foot washers in this world today, because we are for Jesus because he’s for us?”
Roscher was right. And so, after a little more discussion, prayer, planning, and contemplation, my husband and I made our decision. I contacted the social worker and said yes.
There are still a few steps ahead, but if all goes well, our fourth child will arrive in the next couple weeks. There is room.