Monday, December 13, 2010

Belle of the Ball

Christmas cheer hung heavy in the air. Like snowflakes frozen in flight, tiny white lights outlined rooftops and fence lines while festive wreaths decorated many a front door. A heavy fog blanketed the dark air giving the night a magical glow. I turned my car into the parking lot of a small church, conscious that my date was awaiting me. A quick check in the mirror and I was out the door, heading towards the strains of Christmas music coming from within.

The bedlam inside was a sharp contrast to the peaceful scenes I had just witnessed. “Ho! Ho! Ho!” a jolly Santa chuckled as several small boys clambered onto his lap at once. My eyes scanned the bustling room. Where was he? Suddenly, blue eyes met mine as a shy smile brightened his face. In a flash he was at my side, nervously leading me to a table decorated in red. “Do you want something to drink?” he asked. At my nod, he dashed off to the punch bowl. My gaze followed, but my thoughts were quickly interrupted.

“Do you want some cookies?” a stranger’s voice asked quietly. Again I nodded and another suitor dashed off to the dessert table. “Can I show you the decorations?” asked another. “You’re pretty,” a fourth voice piped up. By the time my punch and cookies had arrived, I was holding court with at least half-a-dozen delightful and handsome, albeit awkward, young men. Very quickly, and somewhat unexpectedly, I had become the belle of the ball.

My words held their rapt attention. My every wish was granted. The young men doted on me. They pampered me. They wooed me with their sweet smiles and infectious laughter. They broke my heart.

For this was no ordinary ball I was attending and these were no ordinary suitors. I had been invited to the Christmas party for a boys’ group home. My soon-to-be son was living there with several other hard-to-place foster children. I was a potential adoptive mother in a room full of broken boys with no family to call their own. Maybe, if they were sweet enough… Maybe, if they were solicitous enough… Maybe, if they were kind enough… Maybe, just maybe, I would take them home too? Their eyes held my gaze with a quiet, unspoken desperation. Maybe? They outdid themselves vying for my smiles of approval.

There was a time in my life where I would have loved to have been the center of attention. But on this night, the underlying pain that permeated the room squashed any residue of self I still had. “Lord,” I cried, “How do I help them? Their needs are so huge! I can’t touch them all. I’m overwhelmed!” Sweetly and simply the answer came, “Touch them for Me … just for tonight.” I had been crushed by the enormity of ALL their needs, but God hadn’t asked me to shoulder that burden. He asked only that I show His love to them for one short evening. That I could do.

I poured love on those boys all that night. We laughed at silly knock-knock jokes, ran circles around old Santa, shared stories, and reveled in the joy of being a part of God’s extended family. For one glorious moment in time, God allowed me to be His arms, His voice, and His smile to a roomful of love-starved boys. It was a privilege I will never forget—especially since that blue-eyed boy I went to visit is now my 22-year-old son.