(And you were one.)
Hundreds of thousands of children are growing up in poverty around the world. The number is so big we tend to acknowledge it with a shake of our head, a brief moment of thought, and a “share” on our social media. We may even breathe a prayer for them, wishing God would somehow wave a magic wand and “fix” all those poor lives. But in reality, it seems pointless to dwell on an issue that is far too large for us to handle on our own.
What if I said that you needed to love just one child? If you had the ability to make a difference in one life, would it be as easy to dismiss? Would you be able to share that on your social media pages, and then walk away from the situation?
Let me tell you a bit about Reactive Attachment Disorder, or “RAD”. RAD is a serious condition in which a young child doesn’t or isn’t able to create healthy attachments with parents or caregivers. Without the bond of a healthy adult, a child can have lifelong complications; being unable to give and receive love in a healthy manner. This will affect their ability to form lasting relationships and they often struggle to keep a job, friends, and their homes. Most struggle with rage as a result of those deep seated feelings of abandonment and lack of love. It is said those affected by RAD fail to develop a conscience and lack the ability to trust. RAD is a tragic condition, and is, unfortunately, more common than you may think.
In our training as foster parents, we learned that to keep the ability to attach to other humans, a child needs to attach to one healthy adult. One. One healthy relationship has the power to drive away a lifetime of pain due to the inability to attach and trust!
As you’ve read in the last two editions of the Splash newsletter, for our family, we reach out through foster care. We love one… and then another one… and one more. We recognize foster care is not for everyone, but according to James 1:27, caring for neglected children is something we are all to do.
For you, it may be connecting with children in your neighborhood or your church family. By waving hello, smiling, or offering a high five, you can share the love of Jesus with kids around you, and begin to create healthy bonds. Teaching Sunday school is an excellent way to build healthy trusting relationships into the lives of the children around you.
For you, it may be kicking a soccer ball around a field with some kids you’ve never met before. You could take the time to learn their names, call out encouragements during the game, and bump shoulders with them through the evening. As the weeks go by, you will create relationships and begin to impact their lives.
You might be better suited to visiting in a school and reading to kids- kids who are so thirsty for attention that they climb all over you and seem a little too rambunctious! Your patience with them, and willingness to offer your time and love for even a few moments each week, will show them that one person cares.
In your life right now, you may not be able to catch a plane to the poorest country in the world, feed and clothe the children there, and snatch them from the depths of poverty. You may not be able to adopt or even foster children who lack the bond with a healthy parent. But what can you do?
Even if you can’t play soccer and are unable to spend time reading, perhaps you can provide a snack for the young soccer player or cheer from the sidelines. Perhaps you can support a young mother so that she is better able to love her children. Maybe you can fix a bike for a kid in your neighborhood that has no one else to ask.
There are many children in your city, neighborhood, and sometimes even on your street, that need your love. They desperately need to have a relationship with a healthy adult who can teach them what it means to trust, and through that, what it means to be loved by their heavenly Father.
Mark 9:36-37 tells us that if we welcome the children, we actually welcome Jesus!
“Sounds great,” you say, “what’s the catch?”
These children don’t come with clean shining faces, politely asking for your time. No, these kids come with bad attitudes, rude behaviours, and they seem to have a knack for getting on your nerves. They don’t respect your boundaries, and they test every ounce of patience you think you have. They are frustrating and just when you think you are getting through to them, they do something that makes you question if any of this is even worth it.Is it still worth it? Would they be worth it to Jesus? Or would His next facebook post be a rant about “kids these days” and the parents that created them?
The kid who shuffles around the neighborhood looking for trouble, the depressed teenager who drags down those around her, the toddler who runs wild and screams for attention at the most inappropriate times- all these are worth it. The kid who hasn’t learned about personal space and climbs all over you when you read to them, the one who really wants to play soccer, but sits on the sidelines and sulks, and the hyper preschooler who constantly interrupts you with the need to be acknowledged- all these are worth it. All these can be the one who you are asked to love. Each one has a future that can be drastically changed if you reach out and create a relationship with them.
Who is your “one”? Instead of being overwhelmed by the vast need in this world, focus on the one or two in your life that need your love, and more importantly, the love of God. Just love one… and then one more… and that one too… and that one over there. That is how you change the future of the children in our world, and through that, you change the world.
Steve and Beki Ryzuk