“Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be”.
Stories are powerful. Jesus loved them. Look at the way He used stories to teach his disciples and the multitudes. But he had another purpose; to create receptive hearts in his listeners. Stories link our hearts to the sacred.
Our story is sacred. And so is our child’s.
During her junior year in high school my daughter gave an oral presentation in class that included information about her adoption. When she had finished her teacher blurted out, as my daughter continued to stand in front of her classmates, “do you know why your mother didn’t want you?”
Be still my raging, mother’s heart!
That teacher didn’t understand sacred stories.
We’ve lost the sacredness of personal stories in our tell-all-world. Boundaries blur between public and private. Check-out stands bombard us with lurid details of sordid lives. When did we start to believe we had a right to know everything about everyone?
As adults, we can choose what we share about ourselves and with whom we share it. Not true for our young children; we’re the keeper of their story. We must acknowledge that it’s sacred, keep it private, and decide what we will tell others.
Family and friends are curious; so are people we scarcely know. It’s easy to share our adoption story without thinking, deeming the casual acquaintance equally entitled to private details. Even Christian friends who pray for us may feel entitled to privileged information about our child’s birth parents and their lives.
But birth parent stories are sacred, too.
As adoptive parents we make decisions about the race of our child, birth parent medical and social history, pre-natal drug and alcohol use, financial assistance, and what type of legal risk we can assume. This looks academic. But to a child, each decision represents a profound piece of their story - the story that God began to write when He saw their unformed body. He knew each of our children by name, before they were born, and invited us to step into their sacred story – not as bystanders, but co-authors.
Create a receptive heart in me, Father, as I consider the stories you’re writing. The mystery of grief, loss and redemption in adoption is more than my heart can absorb. Help me become a faithful-keeper – and a compassionate co-author, of my child’s sacred story.
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Several years ago my daughter-in-law and I slipped away from a family campout to go hiking. We talked about many things that afternoon, including her plan to enroll in a graduate program in human services.
“But you love theatre and drama and are gifted in the performing arts; we would be robbed of those talents and passion. “Why this program,” I gently probed.
“Because I don’t feel like I’ve suffered enough,” she replied.
I paused, respecting her authenticity and sweet spirit. “But suffering always has a way of finding us without looking for it,” I said.
Suffering has found many adoptive moms.
Adoption consumes us: the desire, the process, and the reality of parenting a child with compromised beginnings who never asked to be adopted. Expectations crash into reality. Collisions happen. Dreams shatter – and suffering finds us.
We suffer not only the loss of our dreams; we also suffer the losses our children survived, suffocating losses - praying, hoping, begging God to heal our children and fulfill our dreams.
Now that our children are grown, Ray and I have time, space and perspective to consider the joys and the sufferings of our parenting years; joy wins hands down. But suffering’s on my mind these days. Not because I don’t have anything better to think about - but because it found me again…a diagnosis, crazy-mean people, and loss. I don’t like it; it makes me cranky, scared and I-want-to-throw-an-adult-tantrum- kind of mad. The only control I have over any of it is my attitude. And I’ve noticed my thoughts about suffering are different than God’s.
God: In this world you will have suffering.
Me: But I want comfort and control.
God: Suffering is part of my plan to prove the genuineness of your faith.
Me: But I don’t like that part.
God: I will never leave you; my grace is sufficient.
Me: But I want you to change things!
God: Don’t be afraid for what you are about to suffer.
Me: But I already am.
I don’t understand God’s ways. Unhealthy coping skills tempt me with counterfeit comfort. But I do trust God’s heart toward me – and He offers truth:
Suffering finds us. He may not change our circumstances. But God promises to go before us (to be in our tomorrows), to go with us (right now, through all of the hard stuff), and to never leave us.
Thank you, Jesus!
How many dogs are you walking?
I’m not asking how many pets you have or if you exercise them. But how many responsibilities and emotional burdens have you taken on that aren’t yours; aren’t necessary; may be harmful to you and your health; or, over which you have no control? If you can’t do anything about it, don’t own it.
It’s not your dog to walk.
Several years ago I attended a professional conference. The speaker, an adoptive dad, veered wildly off track and shared a personal story about something that happened that morning; he was clearly still processing it – wrong venue, but…I identified with his confusion and frustration. I’m not sure what he spoke about that day, but I do remember how he resolved his personal dilemma, the solution occurring as an “aha moment” while he stood before us. Throwing his hands in the air, as if shedding the weight of it, he announced - “it’s not my dog to walk!”
I loved it - a solution that resonated with my busy, over-committed, chaotic, drama filled life. He gave me new language and a healthy coping skill. I’m learning to analyze a situation before jumping in, speaking, or choosing to accept an emotional burden that isn’t mine to carry - like the bad choices other people make, conflicts that don’t involve me, or whether or not my child turns in their home work on time.
As conscientious moms we’re steeped in countless aspects of our family’s lives: school and homework, activities, hubby’s work-related issues and the family calendar. We’re dialed in to family and friends. Many are cultivating careers, caring for aging family members, volunteering with church, politics, community events, and children’s schools. We’re walking a lot of dogs!
It’s important to stay connected; to be gracious and compassionate friends and family members. But make sure the dogs you’re walking are yours to walk - and that all the others go home where they belong.