I couldn’t wait to get back to my house. It was less than ten miles from here to there, and I couldn’t put the miles behind me fast enough.
Dashing into the house and running to our bedroom, I collapsed on the bed, stuffing my face in a pillow. Then I cried. I wept tears as I prayed.
I’d dropped my son’s friend off at his house, the blue ribbon he won the evening before in hand. Nobody there cared or paid attention. The dogs had as much chance at the cold pizza on the coffee table as the kids, and there was no semblance of order or of home inside that small house.
The baby slept on a mattress with no sheets and the lonely eyes of younger siblings called to me. I wanted to take them all home with me and make life better for them.
Instead, I left the fourth grader in the house with his family and came home to my tribe of well-nourished, adequately clothed, and normally squabbling kids.
I wanted to give him what I had to offer. I prayed and I asked God what I could do.
His reply was a gentle, “Just love him.”
“But I want to do something to make it all better! Show me what to do.”
“Just love him.”
“But I want to do this . . . and this . . . and this . . . !”
That was all. Just. Love. Him.
So I did. At least I tried.
Weekly, when he spent the night, we played games, read books and colored. The kids pitched ball in the front yard and I taught him how to set a table for supper. Once a week, he became a part of our family.
Making sure our place was a haven he could come to every week – and should he ever need a place. We did that.
But was it enough?
Every Wednesday, he hopped off the bus with my kids and spent the night. He went to church, participated in the kids’ club, and then got help with homework when we got home. Not one day’s homework, but all five days since the last time he stayed. He slept in one of the bunk beds in the boys’ room.
He was fun. He was gregarious. He was smart. Really smart. Smart in math and smart beyond his years. Too smart for his years.
Every Wednesday night he wet the bed. Every Thursday I stripped the bed and washed the sheets and hung them out to dry.
Every Wednesday, he sat down with our family and ate around the table. And we loved him.
I pined for him. I wanted to do something.
But each time I asked, I heard God say to me, “Just love him.”
So I loved him. And I prayed. For him.
It’s been nearly twenty years, and I don’t even know where he is, for sure. We’ve heard things about his being a father and jail time. We’ve heard rumors about drugs.
We remember the sweet guy who was so smart he could have done anything he wanted – but didn’t.
Did we fail because he never became a winner? Or was our love a love that was enough?
Jesus said that when we do something unto “one of the least of these,” we have done it to Him.
Jesus said I should just love him.
Yet sometimes I still wonder: did I love him enough?
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