Several years ago, I met a special little boy who, through the years, transformed my understanding of God’s love for me and my adoption into God’s family. Brody Griffin is a dark-eyed, mocha-skinned beauty. His words are few and his challenges are great.
Who is Brody?
Brody has Fragile X Syndrome, “a genetic condition that causes intellectual disability, behavioral and learning challenges and various physical characteristics.”¹. Fragile X presents enough challenges for one lifetime. Brody also deals with Autism, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder, and both hearing and visual impairment. And, he was once an orphan.
My precious friends, Wendy and Bubba, adopted three children from Guatemala. Brody came home with a mama, a papa, a sister, and a brother. Instant family for a boy facing a lifetime of need.
There is no arguing, adoption is a picture of God’s love for us. He brings us into His family, making us joint-heirs with Jesus (Romans 8:15-17). God becomes our Father. He loves us lavishly, just as He loves the Son of Man.
Brody’s adoption, however, is the clearest picture I have seen of my own adoption into the family of God.
Brody requires around the clock care. He is completely dependent on his family to meet all of his needs. They must anticipate melt-downs by watching for signs of hunger, a near-dead iPad battery, or overstimulation from his environment. Brody uses sign language to communicate but still, his family and caregivers have to sometimes guess at the cause of his frustration. His siblings sacrifice time and heart, as Brody’s needs demand so much of their parents’ attention.
In a typical parent-child relationship, there is some reciprocation. You meet your child’s need and they say “thank you” or draw a picture for you. Your relationship develops from provider to a friend.
Not so with Brody. He is unable to reciprocate the way a typical child would. He has, on occasion, said “mama” or “dada.” He has moments of affection. However, his parent-child relationship is primarily one-sided.
When God pulled me into His family, He loved me unconditionally. He continues to love me beyond my understanding. My needs are met minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour. He anticipates my meltdowns and provides grace to carry me through.
There is little I can do to reciprocate that kind of lavish love. I can cry, “Abba! Father!” I can raise a hand in praise. But my human efforts to love unconditionally as I have been loved falter every time. Too often, the parent-child relationship with my Father is one-sided. I make it about having my needs met and flounder emotionally when I experience discomfort or trials.
They Cannot Repay You
Bubba and Wendy’s love and care for Brody astonish me. They care for him through aggressive fits, adult diapers, countless iPads, chewed headphones, IEP’s and the daily stress of meeting another’s needs. They receive the smallest return from him–a pat of affection, a smile or a twinkle in those deep, dark eyes–and it is enough to carry them through. Their love for Brody is the kind of love God has for us. It is the kind of serving love that Jesus told His disciples to strive for in The Parable of the Great Banquet.
“When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (Luke 14:12-14)
This is the kind of love I desire to have for others. I want to love as I have been loved–lavishly, unconditionally and without an expectation of repayment. I want to remember my own adoption, to remember I am chosen. I want to depend on God to meet my every need the way Brody looks to Bubba and Wendy to meet his every need.
Who is Brody? He is a chosen child of God. He is the precious son of Bubba and Wendy. He is an ambassador of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And he is my special friend.
If you would like to read more about The Griffins, check out their blog, The Griffin Adventures. Please pray for the Griffins over the next few months as Brody transitions into a group home where he will continue to preach God’s love through signs and wonders.
¹See more at FragileX.org.