It’s a familiar place to us. You go somewhere just about every Sunday for several years and it becomes pretty familiar. The people there become like family. I think God likes it that way. The routines there get etched in your mind. It’s funny how we go through the same routine. Sit in the same places, talk to the same people, even arrive at the same time. You already have a pretty good idea who will be there before you walk in the door.
Except today. Today is different. Well, it started the same. It seemed the same. Until we walked into the room, and saw something unexpected. My wife turns the corner and sees one of her students. The little girls runs to her and gives her a huge hug. Then she proceeds to follow her around the room all the way to her seat.
It’s just a few minutes before we begin our morning worship. As people come in and speak to my wife, the little girl just sits by her side, completely attached. Not wanting to interrupt, I begin to scan the room searching for her family. I don’t see anyone that I don’t recognize. She crawls up in Jennifer’s lap and lays her head on her shoulder. She looks so at peace. You would have thought that Jennifer was her mother.
The song service starts and the little girl just stays in her lap. The look on her face reminds me of the lyrics to that song, “Feels like home to me.” I can’t help but think it is somewhat unusual. In fact, I had the thought at one point, “I wonder what her mom thinks about that.” I scan the room again while I should be deep into “Worthy is the Lamb” but I am super distracted. My son draws a picture of himself with a sad face that reads, “I don't think you love me. You love her.” He shows it to his mother. Of course, that’s not true. She loves him more than anything in the world.
That little girl sits in her lap with her head on Jennifer’s shoulder the entire praise and worship service, into communion, prayer requests. She had no intention of leaving that place. She stayed right there until it was time for the kids to dismiss for class.
After church we get in the car and start to head home. I turn to Jennifer and ask her who the little girl was there with. “She’s in foster care. Staying with one of the families at our church for the weekend.”
It all makes sense now. I guess Jennifer is the closest thing she has to a mother. Jennifer is the place where she goes for stability, comfort, support, encouragement, someone to speak life to her, someone to just hug her and hold her. Someone to love her. I am proud of my wife for who she is...especially who she is willing to be for the kids that need it most. That moment I observed on Sunday morning didn’t just happen on Sunday morning. It happened Monday through Friday...over and over and over. And it has made a difference to that little girl. It may be the only way she learns to show the love of a mother to her own daughter.
I applaud all of the world’s teachers that bring love every day for the kids who don’t get it at home. Jesus would too.
”Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8