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Vomit and Lessons in Worth

Prior to this week, I never had someone puke down my shirt.  Or in my hair.  Or on my face.  This week I had the privilege of experiencing each of those events, as Josiah tackled his first stomach bug.  The gastrointestinal virus morphed into another illness (thank you, daycare, for making my child an immunologic giant) as the week wore on, keeping us all up at night.  I begged God for mercy.  As though He doesn't give me mercy every blasted day of my blessed, privileged life.

As I changed Josiah's diaper this morning, reflecting on his seemingly constant state of viral illness, I powerful thought struck me.  These sicknesses, which for Josiah are small bumps in road of his first year of life, are far less merciful to children in developing nations.  In fact, diarrheal illnesses kill 760,000 children under age five each year (WHO).

Is the life of any of those children worth less than his?  Of course not.  Do I live that truth?  Sadly, no.

I buy brand name diapers and Desitin, so his little bottom won't feel any discomfort.  Could I use generics, maybe tolerate a rash or two, and send the (substantial) monetary difference to help provide fresh water to children dying from dehydration?  Yes.  Yes, I could.

Our little man has a closet full of new, brand name clothing, representing likely two to three times what he actually could wear in a week.  Could I give half of his clothes away, purchase cheaper (consignment) outfits in the future, and ship the remainder of the clothes to kids who own one outfit each (often too small, too worn, and too torn to provide much protection from the elements)?  Yes.  Yes, I could. 

We give him organic baby food (albeit, purchased at Big Lots, more cheaply than anything else I can find) several times per day, brand name Poly-visol, and (expensive) probiotics.  Seriously?  Babies around the world are dying from starvation, and I am paying (substantial) money for bacteria to colonize my little guy's gut?  Oh. My. Goodness.

We pray for Josiah daily.  We pray that he would feel better, that he would sleep, that he would sleep, and that he would sleep.  And we pray that he would know God.  But do we pray for ourselves?  Do we ask that our money, time and affections would bring our son and many other children to the Cross, rather than to places of comfort?

Parenthood is a slippery slope.  Especially in America.  Especially in Christian homes.  So many of us get it wrong, focusing on things with no eternal value and teaching our children to do the same.

Should we pray for our children?  Yes.  A million times, yes.  But should our prayers be only for our children, our families, and our lives?  Dear God, no.

Should we provide for our children, giving them all they need (within our power) to be healthy?  Absolutely.  But is that truly what we are doing?  Are we raising mature, mindful Christ followers who understand and respond to the needs around them, or merely privileged, indulged Americans who think that their homes (and the world) revolves around them?

I want Josiah to know that while his life is invaluable, so is every life.  And while his heart is precious beyond measure, so is every heart.  I want my words to show him that truth.  I want my spending to show him that truth.  And I want my prayers to show him that truth.  I want to live that truth, so that next time I find myself covered in vomit I am not thinking of my own (or even Josiah's) discomfort.  I'm thanking God for the privilege of living in a place and time when a viral illness will not kill him, and asking God to use our excess to meet the needs of those who are not so fortunate.

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