October has 31 days. At an average of 8 diapers a day that’s 248 diapers or about $65 at Sams. Thankfully there are wonderful daycare caregivers who can help change so many of those.
31 nights. Over those 31 days a child might wake up on average 3 times a night. That’s 93 times that a child needed a reassuring pat, a bottle, or one of those diaper changes.
31 days. At minimum, that’s 31 baths. 31 times that water looked better on the bathroom floor than in the tub. 31 days in which there was more water on the floor.
31 days. Hundreds of cabinet doors being shut. And then shut again. Thousands of words of encouragement and compassion. A few corrective words thrown in for fun.
There’s something that Christy and I have learned in this journey of providing care. We have seen this in our lives and heard this from others. Many times there is an inordinate amount of interest in a specific event; dr visit, an interaction with a new toy, etc. This frustrates me to no end because there is a lot of life lived in those open spaces of 31 days. And yet I have tried to understand the reasoning of those who are absent. Having extra knowledge about a particular event, or demanding that a certain reality be observed, gives a feeling of authority and power in a situation in which someone feels powerless.
Yes, I’m talking about foster care – and voting.
People have spent their life trying to convince me that my love for my neighbor is found and proved in one particular spot on the ballot. Or in one particular legislative promise. Or in one party platform. That’s not nearly the full story.
My neighbor checked me in as I voted. My neighbor voted differently than I. My neighbor waved signs and paid for advertising that irritated and annoyed me – and that’s on the light side. My neighbor gets angry when told how I voted. My neighbor is found in all of those inconsequential feeling moments of my life when choosing others over self requires purpose and service – and faith in some moment-by-moment doses.
According to the One whom I’ve dedicated my life to, how I treat and interact with that person is far more defining than what box I checked. Just as all those nights of waking up and changing diapers is infinitely more important than whether a child takes a particular type of pacifier. This, of course, goes against our nature. We want to see definable actions. We want results. We want to feel ‘in control’.
Not much has changed in 2000 years and I have the same problem of wanting control so I go back to Jesus and some things he told his disciples. Some of you want me to ensure my vote goes to a particular candidate and others that my vote goes against a particular candidate or party. We have a tendency to overvalue our ideas and ideals just as Judas called for Mary’s ointment to be sold instead of poured out on Jesus’ feet. By the way, yes, Judas was going to steal some of that but his suggestion still makes sense to our logical selves today.
Some of us want to call down destruction on those who reject us; our intellect, our reasoning, and most especially our ‘rightness’. If we will listen, then very clearly we should hear the voice of Jesus; “love your enemies.” Folks, love isn’t how we feel about people, love is defined by how we treat them. How we respond when they find themselves startled and upset. When they find themselves discouraged and they act out by seeking to be destructive.
How we speak to them. About them. With them.
So go on and vote. I did, because as a citizen it’s a right and responsibility. But I’ll tell you that in the five days since I’ve voted I’ve done multiple other things that are far more important because they reveal my true interests and focus. And I’ll keep on changing the diapers and getting out of the bed multiple times a night. My neighbors need that. Their very lives depend on it.