The crazy journey of our family living this beautiful life for our awesome God!
"...Whatsoever you do, do ALL to the glory of GOD." 1 Cor. 10:31

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Some More Thoughts on that Compassion Stuff.....

I wanted to add some additional thoughts that perhaps I didn't make clear in my last post..and it was already too long, so I'm writing another post. :)  I have been wanting to write about compassion and the way we use our words with others when they are going through trials for a while now.  It's been something that's been heavy on my heart for a long time, mostly because God's been teaching me a lot about it through our own situations.  We go through trials and it hurts and it's hard but we can still learn so much in the midst of those trials and this is one of those things I've been learning.  And I really am grateful for the learning.  I have always said, the pain may be hard, but I pray it doesn't go to waste.  I pray that I can learn and grow through it and I pray that I can be of encouragement and comfort to someone else some day.

I've shared openly and honestly about some of the struggles we've experienced and where my heart has been in the midst of those struggles.  But please, don't misunderstand my "open-ness" as seeking to put myself and our pain up on a pedestal.  That is definitely not my goal.  I didn't write everything about struggling to have faith and learning about compassion in an attempt to get up on my soapbox and dramatize our pain and throw a pity party for ourselves.  Naturally, our trial is what has caused me to think about these topics more and therefore write about it, but my goal is not at all to say "woe is me, look how bad we've got it."  I share how I hurt in hopes that it will encourage someone else who may be going through the same thing to see that they aren't alone and to perhaps be someone they can talk to if they need.  I do not, I repeat, I do not share in order to magnify ourselves or our situation.  But of course I'm going to draw from our own experiences. And I write openly and honestly because I prefer "real-ness" and showing the "nitty-gritty" so much more over surface-level niceties.  So much more is accomplished in relationships when we are real and we choose to go deep and cut to the heart of things.

I know there are so many other people who have gone through so much harder things than we have.  This world is full of pain.  I hurt for parents who are losing a child to a painful, terminal illness...for children who live without a family to love them and call their own...for parents who see their children ripped from their homes to be thrown into war as child soldiers....for moms who don't have enough to feed their starving children and their hearts ache as their children cry themselves to sleep in hunger....the list goes on and on. There is so much BIG pain in this world.  It makes me cry just thinking about it all.  I would never say we have it the hardest and "poor me", please have pity on our situation.  Please don't think I feel that way. (not saying any of you do...I just want to make sure I'm completely clear)  I just draw from my experiences and am trying to use them to learn more about others and what they're going through and learn from how they handle it and have faith in the midst of trials.  I want to learn how to be more compassionate to others and how to enter into their pain and suffer with them.  That is where my heart is coming from...I don't write to point people to me and our situation..but to get people thinking about how they may have handled certain situations in their own lives and dealt with other people in their pain.  We can all, always improve and grow...and I write as much to myself as I do to others.

I just want to encourage people to be real and to not be afraid to share their hurts and their struggles..so I share mine in hopes that it will help others to do the same.  We all go through struggles...and they vary in degrees and types.  But we can NEVER get into comparing and judging others when they are going through pain.  Each person's pain is his/her own and it's not our place to say how they should or shouldn't be handling it...we aren't in their shoes and we never will be. We are all unique humans who handle things differently and God works in all of our lives differently. So I pray that my words would encourage us to think first before we speak and to just have love and care for people FIRST...before anything else...before we get critical, before we judge, before we "preach" at, before we do anything else.  I think if we do this then we won't be so quick to criticize, judge and "preach"...but we'll be quicker to share in their pain and wrap our arms around them in love and help them carry their burden.  Remember what James said in James 2?  What good is it if we just throw nice phrases at people and tell them the "right" things but don't enter into their pain and help carry the burden for them?  It's useless.

I'm so thankful for God's grace and for the truth of who He is.  I'm so thankful I've got Him to lean into and rest in.  Life may hurt and there may be days when it's hard to have faith but what a gracious, loving God we have.  He doesn't turn His back on us....I believe He hurts when we hurt, but He knows the purpose in it and He promises that everything will be worked out for our good and His glory.  That is balm to my soul....if I forget everything else, I pray I always remember who He is and that He promises to always work everything out to what's best for me and what will glorify Him most.  It may not be my "perceived" best, but His best is way better than anything I can come up with for myself.  I pray my faith will always cling to that.  And I pray yours will too.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

When Faith is Tough...Learning Compassion (And an adoption update)

Warning: Things will probably get pretty raw and real in this. I can't keep holding everything in so I'm unloading today.  Take it or leave it...my heart needs to breath.

We received news about the adoption process in Ethiopia today.  I suppose that a good portion of the news was very positive, maybe?  I don't know, it's hard for my heart to sort out what's positive news and negatives news regarding our adoption nowadays.  I think that is because, after 2.5 years, we've had so many roller coasters throughout the process that I don't trust the "news" anymore.  It can seem and sound good one day, but then be completely the opposite within a few weeks, or even days.  I think at this point, because of such an emotional roller coaster that we've experienced, I've just become numb to it all...good and bad.  And truthfully, I'm not sure how I feel about that.  I don't like feeling numb about it, but I do like that it protects my heart to some extent.  However, I love the highs that life brings and I love experiencing those highs and being numb means those also aren't experienced....it's all just nothing.  But in order to have the highs, you must also feel the lows...so "numb-ness" isn't an option.

We were told yesterday that international adoptions from Ethiopia will continue.  After everything we've gone through over the last several months, this is and should be awesome news.  However, this isn't the first time we've heard this.  The last time we heard it, things got bad again and it was all questionable within just a few weeks of hearing the news.  So I guess if you don't see me leaping for joy, it's because I just don't trust the news until I see the actual change in action.  I'm thankful for the news, yes, but I don't trust it 100%.   However, we also heard that there will be several changes made in the process which means it will be a minimum of 2-3 months before we even receive our referral.  For those of you not in the process, this might sound awesome, and my reaction might not make sense, but after 2.5 years of waiting it was just another shot to my heart.  It often feels like all I've heard during the last 2.5 years is "a few more months of waiting"  "hang in there, we think positive change is happening, but just a few more months"  "we think things will improve, but it may take a few more months."  It's constantly a story of adding more and more time to a timeline that is completely unknown...the only "known" part about it is that it just keeps getting longer.  There is no guarantee, no promise this will end, and at this point, it feels like I have no reason to believe it will actually end in us bringing our little one home.  That may all sound a little pessimistic to some of you, but I'm just asking that you bear with me and try and imagine the situation we've gone through over the last few years and why it would cause me to feel that way.  My heart is just weary from waiting.  I know God is sovereign. I know He is in control...but just like most every other (honest) person...I have bad faith days and sometimes it's just hard to hold onto hope.  It just hurts a lot and that's all I know.  My eyes get clouded from the tears and I have a hard time seeing God in the midst of it all. That doesn't mean I don't still know what's true and that I don't still return to that truth.  But like David in the Psalms, sometimes my heart just cries out in pain and confusion.  I could never have imagined what this process would be like and how hard it would be until I actually experienced it and let me tell you....it's NOT for the faint of heart, that's for sure!  I know there are worse things in the world and there are million ways I can find positive in this (I think) and that God is sovereign, but like I said, the pain is still real and some days it's just plain hard.  My heart feels defeated and deflated from so much emotional upheaval and there are days I just want to quit.  I am choosing to be in this situation...I am fighting for this precious baby who I believe God is going to put in our family.  But it's like a big battle of the will to continue the good fight...to not give up when it's completely our choice to be here in the first place (kind of...but that's a whole other post for another day).

The reason I struggle to be open and share this information in this way is because it usually leads to misunderstandings and quite frankly, comments that make it even harder on us.  I'd rather deal with the struggle on our own than put it out there for others to stomp on and add to the heartache (even if it is often "unintentionally").  That may sound harsh, but I've experienced it to be true.  As humans, we just don't do well in speaking gracious words.  Luke and I have experienced way too much of this as we've gone through our infertility, this adoption and a few other trials in our lives.  I don't know what the reason is, if we really just don't know what to say, or maybe we don't like pain and negative things so we try to paint everything in a positive light, or sometimes, it's just downright unkind motives....we think someone else's situation isn't possibly as hard or harder than what we're going through so they don't have a right to "struggle" with it and we are incapable of  "weeping with them when they weep."  We've got to make sure our "hard" is harder than anyone else's "hard." So it becomes a game of comparing whose situation is worse, instead of a practice in compassion.  And oftentimes, our words are disguised in religion and good intentions.  I think a lot of times we are too caught up trying to defend God and stick up for Him when that's not what's needed at all.  We feel the need to throw spiritual phrases at people and stick up for God and "point them in the right direction." God doesn't need defending and for many people, at least I know for me, I already know what's true.  I don't need you to defend or preach the truth to me.  I already spend the majority of my time doing that to myself.  It's how I maintain my sanity.  Most of the time people just need us to wrap our arms around them, say I'm sorry, and hurt with them.  Don't try and take away, minimize, trivialize, compare or spiritualize the pain.  Just hurt with them. We're too afraid to enter into a person's suffering so instead we say a bajillion spiritual phrases to "ease the pain" when a lot of times it doesn't end up easing the pain at all.  Rather, it causes the hurting person more pain as they continue to hurt by themselves.  So instead of offering balm to a hurting heart, we become like Job's friends and throw our "spiritual know-it-all-ness" all over the situation and end up causing more pain and confusion than there was before we opened our mouths (or typed on our computer/phone).

This onslaught of un-graciousness often causes us to put on a somewhat fake front of faith.  We talk to others about our trial or whatever we're going through and we paint it with faith and spiritual-ness and all sorts of good stuff.  "It's ok, just gotta keep trusting"  "I know God's in control, so we'll just keep waiting" "I know there is purpose in the pain so bring it on."  Before you jump all over me, I know those are good phrases and sometimes people really do mean them.  I've said them and meant it.  Of course we should strive to think and feel that way. But sometimes we don't, sometimes we just have bad days.  But because everyone else "has it together" and we don't want to show the vulnerability of our faith, and we're afraid of what they'll say if we are honest, we smother it in a facade of roses and rainbows.  This gets us nowhere people!  This isn't what real faith and real relationships are about.  When we show the ugly then we show others that we're real and it gives them the courage to be honest as well. Then it gives all of us the chance to enter into each other's suffering and hurt with each other and show true compassion and love.  Not throw pat phrases at each other, but rather show true care and genuine concern.  Just because pain is experienced doesn't mean a person isn't trusting God and it doesn't mean God isn't working.  But we can be world changers when we learn how to hurt WITH others and not just throw words at them in attempt to make sense of the pain.  Jesus didn't stay up in Heaven and throw down His words and commands at us.  He entered into our world.  He felt pain with us and He took the ultimate pain upon himself for us.  Perhaps we can and should learn more from His example.  (And if you want an awesome example of vulnerable honesty...true faith...just go to Psalms.  You can't get much more vulnerable than David did.  Don't you think there's a reason God included all of that in His word?!)

When was the last time you entered into someone else's pain or bore it for them?  Perhaps we could all use a little more of "thinking before we speak."  Try putting yourself in someone else's situation, imagine how it must feel for them...don't try and rationalize it away or minimize it.  Just try and feel it and then show them love with the way you respond.
And I have to say..for all of you who have prayed us through this adoption...thank you thank you thank you. We really do appreciate it.  And thanks for letting me be real for a bit.  :)  I've already learned so much throughout this process and God is definitely teaching me a lot about compassion and I truly am so grateful for that.  In the meantime....we'll keep waiting.

Oh...and Baby E...don't worry, I won't ever give up on you.  It may be hard some days, but I won't give up, I promise.  

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