I have recently met a very special couple. They are very ordinary, normal sort of people, but I don't think I've seen people demonstrate real love quite so movingly for a while.
They have no biological children of their own, but adopted many years ago two children with profound intellectual and physical disabilities. The children are now teenagers, and will be unable to live independently as adults.
Every week the parents bring these two beautiful teenagers to church, guide them in to the pew and make them part of the congregation. Their care and love for their children is warm, obvious and constant.
And it is care and love that is chosen as well.
That's where I find myself challenged. I have a child with difficulties, but I feel sorry for myself. I say, "I didn't choose this. Why didn't I get to do what I choose?"
These parents chose their children with all the years of work and effort and persistence that they knew taking them must involve. And they are loving, caring, kind and patient by choice.
In my all too infrequent moments of humility I thank God for giving me a challenging child because he knows that I need to learn to love deeply, persistently and patiently.
If I could choose things for myself, they would be the things I want: glamour, success, self-fulfillment, money and health. They wouldn't be the things I desperately need: love, patience, joy, kindness, self-control, perseverence...
Thank God that he gets to choose - not me.