I sponsor a boy in India. Scratch that. I just got his latest picture, and he has a full-on mustache. I sponsor a young man in India.
Several years ago I got to meet him, and as he’s gotten older, we’ve developed a warm friendship. He calls my husband and me “auntie and uncle,” and sends us hugs and kisses.
Last year when we sent him a picture of our new daughter, he was absolutely exuberant to have a “little sister” and begged for more photos of her.
There’s no better way to a mother’s heart than to ask to see pictures of her baby.
On the other hand, we also sponsor a girl.
Her letters to us are brief. They don’t contain much information that tells us about her life. Her photos often look stern.
Comparing the two relationships, I can sometimes get frustrated. I can wonder,
“Why do I write her these letters when she doesn’t seem to appreciate them?”
In short, I am not getting the emotional pay-out that some hidden part of me seems to want from my sponsorship. (It pains me to admit this.)
Right now for work, I’m editing letters from partnership facilitators around the world. I’m currently on the batch from the country where my sponsored girl lives. As I read letter after letter about the challenges that children in her community face, my selfishness becomes more and more apparent.
Many girls are denied education. Many are married off and get pregnant as young as 13. Many are AIDS orphans. Many have parents who are alcoholics or just absent.
This reminds me of some good advice I’ve heard — you never know what someone else is going through. When someone at the grocery store is rude to you or your friend is a bit short, it’s always good to remember that you have no idea the struggles and challenges that they are facing at that exact moment — so extend grace to them!
How much more ought that to be true of our sponsored children? In my frustration that my relationship with this girl isn’t as sunny as I’d like it to be, I am focused on myself and what I’m “getting out” of sponsorship, rather than focusing on offering unconditional love to a young woman living in a hard situation.
I don’t know what her relationship is like with her parents. I don’t know what pressures she’s facing on her way home from school each day. I don’t know what else might be keeping that stern look on her face.
All I do know is that there is a God who cares for her welfare and I have an amazing opportunity to remind her of that.
I don’t write this because I thoroughly enjoy sharing my weaknesses with thousands of people online. I have Facebook for that.
I share because perhaps this will be a reminder to someone out there that when our sponsor experience doesn’t go exactly how we want it to, that we have an opportunity to be those beautiful feet that bring good news on the mountains, reminding the children — even when it doesn’t seem reciprocal — that God loves them and there is someone who is praying for them.
That little encouragement just might make the difference in their life.