Good Instincts

So often, the natural desires that come from deep down inside me are…well…bad.  They are selfish, they are petty, they are grasping, they are selfish, they are impatient, they are worldly, and they are desperately selfish.  Did I mention that they can be selfish?  The Bible talks about the flesh being in opposition to the Spirit, and I can relate so completely.  Really, I have learned to trust none of my knee-jerk reactions to situations because generally, they are the wrong things to do.

And then I became a mother, and lo and behold, I found a good instinct!  I love my babies so incredibly much…and even more than that, having those babies opened up a whole other level of love and compassion for all children.  I have blogged about these feelings in the past on our family blog, and I may even reprint that post here some day, but the gist of it was that when I had kids, I suddenly felt a profound love, not just for my own children, but for all the children of the world who did not have a loving caregiver.  On a deep, guttural, soul-hurting level, I mourned the abuse that was undoubtedly happening all around me in this world.  The feeling was so overwhelming that I wasn’t even sure what to do about it…or if there was anything I even could do.  It even briefly put me at odds with God, but eventually, He brought me through it, and showed me some productive steps I could take to advocate for hurting children.

It has been awhile since I’ve thought about that rawness of emotion, that deep hurt for hurting kids that I felt shortly after having my own, but yesterday, I saw a reprint of the following blog post on Rage Against the Minivan.  She was sharing these thoughts from another blogger, and the words reverberated in my soul and reminded me of that tumultuous time in my spiritual life.  What I love is the way this blogger has used that passion to do something constructive.  This is her second year to use her blog to help an orphaned child (you can read about the first year here).  I love her words, and I love the way she enables us each to participate in the beautiful act of looking out for an orphan in his distress.  Even if you don’t contribute $5 toward his fund (which I highly recommend), it is worth the read:

life rearranged

Hello my sweet friends.

I’d like for you to meet Xander.

The squishiest, sweetest, most delicious little face you ever did see.

Xander lives in an orphanage in Eastern Europe with no Mommy and no Daddy.

Those almond eyes, a sign of Down Syndrome…and likely much needed medical care.

Once when Henry was a bitty baby, I found myself in his nursery in the wee hours of the morning consoling his whimpering and kissing his feverish little forehead.  I remember thinking: of all the people in the entire world, I’m the only one who can make him feel even remotely happy.  All he wants is his mama.  No one else will do.

And suddenly, out of the blue, in the glow of a new mom’s overwhelming love for her first baby, I was crushed at the thought of the orphan crisis.

How, if my life were different…if one of millions of things weren’t exactly the same as they are now…

I was devastated at the thought of a feverish and sick child whimpering in a crib alone.

No mama to stay up and whisper sweet nothings and coo in his ear.

No daddy to chase him around the house and throw him high into the air for no reason but to elicit squeals of delight.

No cherry flavored Tylenol and cool washcloths for his head.

In that moment, in the middle of the night, sitting in a gliding rocker, in a perfectly decorated nursery, I sobbed.

And truth be told, I’ve never really stopped sobbing over it, you know?

Something happened that night, or really the moment I became a mother, that made me look at the entire world differently.

The world is a much smaller place the moment you have children. 

I think we all break in some way for the orphan crisis…but we have no idea where to start or what to do.

After all, little Xander is only one of 143 million orphans.

Read that number again.  Roll it around in your brain.


And let’s not forget all of the other issues of our broken world. The cancer, the poverty, the dirty water, the child trafficking, the abuse, the wars, the AIDS pandemic, the….name it.

I’m tempted to shut down in an overwhelmed panic.

Because the truth is, we can’t save the world.

We can give and give and advocate and try, and it still won’t be enough.


But you know what?

It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

It doesn’t mean it’s a good reason to sit back and do nothing.

We must try.

We must do our part.

We must.

Do not buy into the lie that your portion does not matter.

Do not allow yourself to believe that you cannot make a difference.

Do not give yourself permission to throw up your hands in frustration and then cover your eyes with them.

Because today my friends, we will do something.

It may not be much, but we will do our part because it’s the right thing to do.

Because God calls us to do it.

After all, last Christmas, $5 at a time, we made a difference for Cliff and raised almost $9,500…Cliff who is now Joshua and has a mama, a daddy, three brothers and a whole host of grandmas and aunts and uncles.

I know your heart breaks for orphans.  I know it does.  And I know that it may not be possible for you to adopt.  But a family out there would love to. And you can help.

Together we will combine our portions for Xander’s adoption fund.  So that when a family steps forward to adopt him, a gift of funding will be awaiting them.

International adoption is expensive.  And is hands down the biggest deterrant to would be adoptive families.

Not desire.  Not extra bedrooms.  Not politics.

Just stupid, awful money.

So let’s bless a family today.  Let’s bless Xander.

Let’s make this Christmas be about more than wrapping paper and twinkling lights.

Consider making a tax deductible donation to Xander’s adoption fund through Reece’s Rainbow.

I know life is expensive and times are tough.  I know.

But ask yourself this: Can you afford not to?

Reading Jeannett’s words, my heart not only went out to Xander and all the orphans, but my mind started mulling over the good instincts that God gives us, those times when doing the right thing is actually natural.  For me, it is caring for orphans because I’m a mom, and moms take care of kids.  For you, it might be something different.  But I think it’s worth it to identify those instincts and to thank God for them, because I believe they are part of being made in His image.  As we are trapped in bodies that are so often dogged by sin and selfishness, those beautiful instincts are good and perfect gifts that come down to us from the Father of the heavenly lights.  I’m sure that, like everything else, they can be manipulated, and we can use them wrongly.  Like everything else, they must be guided by God’s Spirit.  But in the midst of all of our bad instincts, it’s nice to have a few good ones, you know?

What are your good instincts?  Were you born with them, or did they develop over time?

3 responses to this post.

  1. I’d say that pretty much ALL of our instincts are good, but only when they are ruled by the Spirit. I’m reminded of the old t-shirt that said something about “God doesn’t make junk.” My intense competitiveness and borderline OCD can be quite a curse, but also are really nice tools for a coach to have in the toolbox. And you could run down the list. How many sermons, etc., have been given on the idea that sex isn’t bad, it’s actually GOOD, but only in its proper context. Same with probably every other “natural” impulse. God makes good stuff, and then we pervert it. Even the much-maligned Gordan Gekko speech from the 80s about greed being good has some validity.


  2. There it is.

    I knew there was something “off” about this post, but I wanted to get it up before Christmas. I think you put your finger on it in your first sentence. While my maternal instincts can be great for acting compassionately toward children, they can also drive me to isolate myself from the suffering around me out of a desire to protect my own children. I’m not sure that I would list greed as an instinct, since it seems to me to be clearly delineated as “sin” in the Bible. And there are others, like anger, that may be valid on some occasions, but must be viewed with extreme caution, given verses like James 1:20 and Ephesians 4:31, among many others. But I definitely agree with the overall view that, as creatures made in God’s image, our instincts can be used for as much good as they can be used for evil. Thanks!


  3. I don’t recall the exact movie quote, but the context was that greed for bettering oneself, creating better products, excellence, being the best at what you do–all of that was/is “good.” Not sure if you’ve read any Ayn Rand, and she is by no means Christian. But her hyper-libertarian philosophy of people operating purely from enlightened self-interest without pretense is pretty interesting along those same lines. Notice that I used plenty of weasel words (“has some validity”), so take that line with a grain of salt.


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