casa: what i've learned.

Yesterday, I wrote a little bit about CASA, and specifically why I started volunteering as a child advocate. Today, I'd like to write about some of the lessons that God is teaching me through this ministry.

Before I start, though, just a disclaimer - this is by no means an exhaustive list. I've only been doing this for five months now, and I expect there is much more that God wants to teach me.

First, I am so incredibly blessed. Of course, I knew that everyone doesn't grow up in a loving family - but its one thing to know that as a theoretical concept, and quite another to come face to face with the evidence that it is true. Many times, I've talked to these kids and heard their stories, and just been overwhelmed with gratitude for the childhood that I had.

A couple months ago, after hearing a particularly heart-breaking story, I just had to call my mom to thank her for just loving me, no conditions attached. Later that day, I tweeted this:

I grew up with a mom who loves me, no strings attached. I don't remember often enough just how blessed I am.

Doing this work is helping me not to take the gifts in my life for granted. I'm much more appreciative of my parents and my family, and I'm trying to say so more often. By the same token, I also want to make sure that the kids in my life know that they are loved. I want them to be able to look back on their life, and remember actually hearing the words.

Another thing I'm realizing, in a very practical way, is that love is a choice. Sometimes, it means choosing to do the thing that you don't want to do, because love isn't accidental but intentional. I'm reminded that God loves us when we're unlovely, that he pursued us even when we wanted nothing to do with him. That experience of intentionally laying aside something I want, in favor of something that communicates love to someone else (even if they aren't quite able to receive or understand it) - it only makes me more aware and more grateful for the price that Jesus willingly paid.

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