Coming full circle… sort ofPosted: April 29, 2012
I never had kids of my own. Back in my fruitful, childbearing years I was a selfish jerk. I wanted to be able to go places on a moment’s notice. I wanted to spend my money on stuff… lots of stuff… lots of expensive stuff. Stuff I couldn’t have afforded if not for the wonder and magic of revolving credit. I didn’t want to be tied down with the responsibilities involved with raising a child. It’s true what they say I guess… “youth is wasted on the young.” I was the most unwise person I knew back then. I just wasn’t wise enough to realize it. See? See there how I wasted not just my youth, but my big chance to be wise?
So the fact that I never had kids is the reason why there’s a “sort of” tacked to the end of the title of this post. Coming full circle involves the end coming around to be just like the beginning. But my end (I’m not dying or anything, but what I’m doing right now is what I expect to be doing til the end) is a whole lot different than my beginning – my adult beginning at least. Because for the last 23 or so years, I’ve been involved in some way with ministry to kids. It actually makes me wonder if I’ve actually gotten wiser or stupider. At least I got less selfish… and that can only be a God thing. I didn’t come up with this all by myself, otherwise I’d still be out blowing all my time and money on doing whatever the heck it was I was doing 24 years ago. But God is great at changing hearts and minds. In fact, He’s expert at it.
For the past almost-ten years, My wife and I have been houseparents at 2 different children’s homes… for 13 years prior to that I was on staff at several churches doing youth ministry. I never saw either of those things coming. Well, I saw youth ministry coming and ran from it for 3 or 4 years. I never saw children’s home ministry coming, but oddly, I embraced it when it did. Except I thought I’d be raising teenagers. Sort of an extension of my youth ministry, just with a lot more opportunity to make a difference. However, for a good bit of the last 10 years, it’s been little kids, not teens. When I was in youth ministry, I wouldn’t touch children’s ministry with a 10 foot, 1 inch pole. But at the first children’s home, elementary school kids sort of grew on me eventually – like a fungus – to the point where when we did move to a teenage boys cottage I hated the idea.
These days we have a pretty good mix of kids, but still primarily little kids… pre-K, elementary school, the occasional middle-schooler… and one token teenager. But last Monday, after 11 glorious days of vacation, we returned to hear the news that we were getting a new kid in our cottage… a 21 MONTH old kid. I turned to my wife to get assurances that 21 month old kids come potty-trained. I received no such assurances. She might have even been laughing. I don’t remember now… Monday was a long time ago.
The reality of the whole adventure finally came around and whacked me in the head around mid-week when the wife proudly handed the little dude off to me and suggested I change his diaper. Not his pee diaper, either. There was no hesitation on my part. “I will not show weakness… not in front of any witnesses at least.” I repeated than mantra to myself as we made our way down the hall to the bedroom. How bad could it be? He eats a couple of literal handfuls of vegetables, or cereal or nice chewy meat. Laid him down on the bed, deftly undid the velcro fasteners on his diaper (velcro on diapers… who knew??). The first words out of my mouth showed weakness… within earshot of witnesses. “What’s wrong with this kid??!!” That was easily half his total body weight represented in that one diaper. In fact, I’m in awe of that diaper. NASA no doubt had something to do with the design of that diaper. One good thing about the smell though… it makes you work fast. We both survived – maybe even bonded over it somehow, and so I think at last I’ve come full circle. Sort of.
Besides, I believe my father’s definition of coming full circle is the best one by far: “You come into this world bald, toothless and in the fetal position. And that’s exactly the way you leave it.” He forgot to mention smelly diapers, though.