Saturday, November 1, 2014

New Season, New Heartset

The other night, my husband and I finally had the opportunity to watch Philomena.  The film was deeply moving, but one scene in particular stood out to me above all the others: when Philomena has the opportunity to confront the nun who hid the truth about Philomena’s son.

Philomena’s response to the elderly nun: forgiveness.

And Philomena’s reporter-turned-friend is angry at her response. How can she forgive the woman who kept Philomena from her son for so many years?

Because, Philomena replies, not forgiving, living life full of hurt and anger, is exhausting. 

Exhaustion. Isn’t that something so many women can relate to? Exhausted due to work, parenting, relationship struggles, a sick relative, personal illness or addiction, financial issues…the list of possible depletions is incredibly long.

And we all have our thing or two that we carry with us, always, that works diligently to take from us. 

For me, it’s my full-time, forever and ever disease. It is by far the greatest stressor in my life. It is emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally, and financially difficult. Even with good insurance and a five-star specialist, even with all my knowledge of medical terminology and nutrition, even with a tremendous support team (my family)---this disease is really, really, really hard.

I wear it well. I don’t look like a stereotypical diabetic. My doctor praises my efforts. I don’t often complain about my blood sugars.  I’m a warrior. Survivor. Fighter. Every single day. And even on my dark, hard days, I’m still going, because I refuse to give in or give up.

But fighting every day is exhausting. It takes so much energy not only stay alive, but to have a good quality of life.

I didn’t choose this disease.

But in other things, I do have a choice.

My second greatest battle, one common to many women, is a spiritual one.

You see, I love information and hearing the experiences of others. I love seeing an ever-changing FB and Twitter feed. There’s always a great blog post to read, a video clip to watch, or a headline to mull over.  So many ideas, so many experiences, so many thoughts and questions and possibilities.

And overwhelmingly, so much negativity that takes up too much space in my mind and heart.

We each only have so much inside of us each day. We choose what we give that to. And unfortunately, we can give it away to things and people who don’t appreciate it, or even to strangers who don’t even know you or your family or your fears or your triumphs. We can also turn on ourselves, which can be debilitating.

Take parenting for example. There are so many how-to and how-not-to blogs and forums and articles. A person who reads enough can’t figure out which way is up. Worry steps in. Uncertainty. Fear. Discouragement. The world tells us, we are never, ever good enough, therefore, we are failures.  It’s not only overwhelming, it can be all-consuming.

Adoptive parenting, in particular, can be a challenge. There’s not only the parent and child, but biological family members, social workers, lawyers. There are questions from adopted children that will bring you to your knees. There are feelings of elation followed with guilt stemming from personal joy. There’s heartache, a lot of heartache, when an adoptive parent comes to the realization that adoption is so messy, so bittersweet, and so inherently and deeply flawed.  There are seasons where we feel completely unequipped and unworthy of the children we adopt.  There are times of mourning followed by moments of triumph. 

As a Christian, I have often taken my concerns and personal conflicts to God, having conversations with Him as I sort and battle. And every time, He speaks peace and understanding into my heart. These things evolve into wisdom and discernment. He puts people in my path to guide me. He has blessed me with a family who is incredibly supportive and encouraging.

He also reminds me that in Him, I never have to reach a certain level to be “good enough.” I am already redeemed. I am already free. He reminds me of who I am in Him. He also reminds me that all things will align when I am standing on His foundation, not the world’s sand.

You see, the world loves drama.  Unhelpful, deteriorating, quickly-offered criticism stemming from personal pain. Recently, one of my children was being bullied. And after handling the situation with the help of the school principal, I had shared with my girl this simple truth: hurting people hurt people.

Distraction. Judgment. Anger. War. Fear. Selfishness. Pride.

God is the opposite.  He is peace, joy, redemption, and the very ultimate Love.  He is never-changing, always, certain. Freeing. Confident.  Wise.

As a parent, one who had adopted three times, I have found myself caught up in doubt, focusing on the wrong people and things, listening to voices that seek to tear down and infect me with everything God doesn’t want from me. Reminds me of the Bible story I was just studying with my girls: Adam and Eve. EAT THE FRUIT, the world tempts.

This is not what God wants. He wants NO competitors.  No idols. He wants all of my heart, not the leftover parts after I’ve given everything else away. 

Anxiety isn’t from God. Distraction isn’t from God. Burning anger isn’t from God. Revenge, confusion, those aren’t from God either.

Exhaustion:  you guessed it.  Not from God.

God commands Christians to guard our hearts, because everything we do comes from our hearts.

As this season of thankfulness and giving quickly approaches, I am choosing no exhaustion. And to do this, I must reject the things that lead to exhaustion: listening and obeying distractions.

I choose to focus on the people and moments God puts before me to help me learn and grow. I choose to focus on progress, not perfection, because perfection is God, and I am not Him. I choose to focus on the path at my feet.

I choose to focus on the three precious children I have the honor of parenting.  The kids who can’t stop saying, “Look, Mom!” at every freshly fallen, colorful leaf, at every new bicycle trick, at every scampering squirrel, at every new trampoline jump. The kids who constantly offer humor. The kids who desire cuddles and kisses and soothing, encouraging words. The kids whose soft hands rest on my cheeks. The kid who cannot read enough books, eat enough homemade cookies, or have enough kitchen dance parties. The kids who call me “Mama” when they are happy or “MOM!” when they are frustrated.  

I choose to listen to my village: the supportive, encouraging, heart-challenging individuals who love my family and want the very best for us.

I choose to fight for ethical adoption practices and adoption education, through my writing and my interactions, because I think it’s what God wants.

I choose to pursue my passions and use my gifts.

I choose to love God with ALL my heart, soul, and mind. Unapologetically.  Relentlessly. And to teach my children to do the same.

I choose to remember David and Goliath. David won. The victory is already mine, because God is the stones.

I choose to be reflective, like Mary, who pondered the things God shared with her.

I choose empathy, listening to my children and giving them what they need, when they need it, and how they need it.

I choose to let God and the fruits of the Spirit reign as #1.

I choose counter-cultural love

All else will fall into place.





1 comment:

  1. Me and my husband are waiting to adopt and I was having a really hard day with all the messiness today. God sent me to this article. I am grateful to Him and to you for writing it. Thank you! Ana


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