Jubilee doesn’t throw fits, hoard her toys, act irrationally, or withdraw emotionally. In fact, on the surface she is a very “normal” child.
Except when no one is looking. Then she destroys things. She tears the wheels off matchbox cars, scribbles on her brother’s artwork, takes apart completed Lego sets, sits on things, rips things, rearranges things, you name it.
This happens over and over again. No sting of discipline seems to make a difference.
Recently our oldest son, Bright, came to our bedside early in the morning and tearfully exclaimed, “Jubilee has erased part of the rocket ship picture I made! Why does she keep doing this?”
My husband and I pulled Bright into our covers and the three of us had a discussion about Jubilee.
“We understand your frustration, son,” my husband said, his voice husky from a night’s sleep. “But your sister didn’t get to be with us when she was a baby. She doesn’t have the security of her parents’ love in the way you and your brothers do. Breaking our stuff is her way of asking the question, ‘Am I loved?'”
Minutes later, with my husband’s words of wisdom still in my ears, I knelt before our daughter on the kitchen floor. Her black eyes held my gaze nervously but directly, with the strength of one who has endured too much for her age.
Did you do it? I asked. No, she lied. Did you do it? I asked. Yes, she confessed, crumpling into my arms; a 30-lb pile of pink pajamas and brown limbs. I held her while she whimpered softly, my own tears dripping onto her head. She is tired of doing this, I knew. I am tired of doing this, too. We are all tired.
“Jubi Sue,” I said, holding her at arms length so I could look at her. “I love you. You don’t have to do this anymore.”
Those words hit her hard, and she began to weep. I hadn’t seen her cry like that in months. It was the weeping of one who is relieved; the weeping of one who has come to the end of a long ordeal.
Has she, in fact, come to the end of her destructive behavior? It is too early to tell. But at the very least, I heard the question she had been asking and I gave the answer she had been looking for.
Adopting has taught me many things, chiefly that I am the one with the special need. I am the one who was born with a flaw. The flaw of sin. I have always known this, of course, but not before adopting a toddler did it become so glaringly obvious.
I sin every day; in ways that directly relate to being an adoptive mom, and in a thousand other ways besides. When no one is looking (and sometimes when they are), I give in to thoughts and behaviors every bit as destructive as Jubilee’s. Essentially, I am asking the same question she is. It is the question everyone is asking, “Am I loved?”
The answer, spelled out so clearly in the Bible, is a resounding, “Yes!”
Great! one might be tempted to think. That means I can do whatever I want, and God will forgive me for it later, right? In that case, I’ll just keep on sinning. Why wouldn’t I?
“Because there is no need to,” I can almost hear God saying. “I love you. You don’t have to do this anymore.”