Monday, September 26, 2011

Mexican food, Chicken Nuggets and Jail Talk

When I worked as an adoption social worker I was responsible for answering the phone 24 hours a day. My children learned that when my work phone rang in the car or at home, they were to be quiet. The whole family became a part of this ministry in many ways.

I missed my son's 8th birthday because I was at the hospital supporting a mom as she was delivering a baby. I also missed Easter Sunday and voice recitals with my family due to the birth of a baby. You see, I was often the labor coach for the women that I worked with. It was sad that they had little or no support system that I would end up being their support. For me, it was truly an honor to be a part of the birth experience. My very favorite part of that job was working with expectant moms and birthmoms and the long term mentoring of young women who were in difficult situations.

Often times the women I worked with would end up in our home for a Bible study, a place to sleep when they needed to be safe, or just to talk. I liked being able to witness to them through the example of my marriage as well as how we parented our children and how we honored each woman as a daughter of the King. I also wanted our children to be comfortable with people who were different from us. Our children became very comfortable with these young women.

John 13:34-35
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

One evening the agency had been filming a video for our website. I had one young woman with me who lived about 45 minutes away. I needed to drive her home but first I decided we'd meet my family for dinner since I hadn't seen them all day. We ate at a Mexican restaurant in our small town.

Each woman I worked with had a story as to how they came to choose adoption for their child. This particular young woman had spent time in jail. Leave it to my kids ask the good questions! The topic of jail came up, and because she liked to talk about it there were several stories she told. It was her reality. I watched my kids as she told a few stories from jail. They didn't bat an eye. Instead, they asked her "So what was your favorite food while in jail?" She shared it was "clearly chicken nuggets". They were completely at ease with her and the dinner conversation flowed with good conversation and laughter. I think it was amazing to them to hear words like 'lock down" and "jailbird".

At about this time, I look around and notice that a few people had been listening to the conversation. My feeling was that of pride, knowing that my children looked for commonality with her and then built their conversation around that commonality.

Deuteronomy 6:5-9 (NIV)
5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Following dinner, I drove her home. On the 45 minute drive she couldn't stop talking about how much fun she'd had, what nice kids we have and what she found in common with them. You see, she wanted to fit in while my kids wanted to learn about what it means to be in jail and how someone ends up there.

Isn't it true that we all want to feel connected and we all have fears that sometimes keep us from allowing ourselves to feel connected? On that particular evening, both sides learned something about each other making them feel less intimidating. Through good conversation where acceptance was shown, there was a feeling of connectedness.


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