Sunday, April 7, 2013

April Thoughts...


It is April, and I was thinking today of an April eleven years ago. 

In my years of adopting, I have met so many people, heard so many experiences.  I can say that by far, most people who adopt had thought about doing it for a very long time, many even when they were still children.  For them, these decisions were a long time coming.  As is usual for me, I am the oddball.  Eleven years ago, I had never even thought of adopting, or heard of international adoption.  (I’m sure there are others like me out there – well, maybe there are.  I like to think you are out there and that I am not the only one, but if I am the only one, it won’t be for the first time.)  So when a casual friend at church told me that she was adopting a little girl from China, I was utterly intrigued.  Not to think that I would ever do such a daring thing, but I just had never even heard of such a thing.  And someone I actually knew doing such an outlandish thing?  Imagine that! 

Then came that day in April, eleven years ago, when my friend emailed me to say that they had recently traveled to bring home their little girl.  Would I like to meet her?  And so, little 15 month old Elizabeth stomped into our house with her little squeaky shoes.  I was sitting on the floor, and she squeaked over to me, without reservation, and plopped her little self into my lap.  

And I was enchanted. 

How was I to know that from that magical moment, my whole life as I knew it had changed?  We visited for a short while, while one new thought emblazoned in my mind: 

"I could do this...” 

As a timid, non adventurous, security loving woman, my brain was very resistant to this thought.  And as Providence would have it, as my friend was leaving, my husband was just coming in the door for lunch. 

My husband.  And this is what I wonder about so much too.  In all my years of adopting children and interacting in the adoption community, I have discovered that my husband is rare; very rare indeed.  I had always known he was different, and these things had attracted me to him. But I hadn’t realized just how very rare he was.  I knew he was a man who loved God and lived it.    He was also a man who unashamedly, yet matter of factly, just loved children.  Not in a showy, “I LOVE KIDS!” way, like some clownish children’s minister.  Just in a quiet, seeping into every part of his life, appreciation and respect for kids as people, and for life as sacred.  In the 28-plus years that I have known this man, I have only seen him cry a handful of times.  Just about every time had to do with children.  At the time I met him, he was teaching a Sunday School class for five year olds.  Not for community service, or because anyone obligated him to; not to impress anyone.  This was just his fiber.  He has always been one to want to help those who are in need:  widows, orphans, single moms, the oppressed, the persecuted, the needy, the neglected, the hurting.  He was one who would pick up a hitch hiker or stop and help someone by the side of the road.   When our oldest three children were young, and we lived in a 1200 square foot townhouse, more than once we had those who had no place to go living with us.  Was that so unusual?  Apparently, it’s not all that common after all, and I think I took it for granted.  Now I know better. 




You see, my husband’s love is the real deal.  It was never an arm’s length, give money to the guy on the corner deal.  It was never a love-on-the-kids-at-church, and then go home and relax behind your closed and locked front door.  His love was never about trying to get credit, or what it looked like to others.  It was quiet.  And it involved opening his front door.  Letting in children and people who were broken.  Letting them sit at his own table -- with his own children -- in his own house -- along with the smells, the dirt, and the attitudes.   And they didn’t always appreciate it, and it didn’t always turn out well.  But he didn’t just send his money away, or give his time in a safe place on someone else’s turf.  He gave of his whole self and all he had, not shrinking back at danger – with abandon, and with risk. 

Because he knew this is the life that God has called us to.  God did not call us to be safe.  In her book Kisses From Katie, Katie Davis wrote, “Jesus called his followers to be a lot of things, but I have yet to find where He warned us to be safe.  We are not called to be safe; we are simply promised that when we are in danger, God is right there with us.  And there is no better place to be than in His hands.”  There are those out there who want to tell you that following Christ will make your life safe.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Show me one follower of Christ in Scripture, whose dedication to Christ resulted in him being safe.  Following Christ is dangerous.  It is risky.  It is bold.  All things that I am not.  So if anyone thinks I am any of these things, I can assure you, it is not me that you are seeing, but Christ in me. 

John Piper recently wrote a small book entitled Risk is Right.  He wrote, “If our single, all-embracing passion is to make much of Christ in life and death, and if the life that magnifies him most is the life of costly love, then life is risk, and risk is right.  To run from it is to waste your life.”  Well.  That’s a pretty bold statement.  To run from risk is to waste your life?  Unfortunately, in this short book that is very worth your read, he fully supports this statement in a manner that I challenge anyone to dispute.  In the book Piper explains, “All of our plans for tomorrow’s activities can be shattered by a thousand unknowns whether we stay at home under the covers or ride the freeways.  One of my aims is to explode the myth of safety and to somehow deliver you from the enchantment of security.  Because it’s a mirage.” 

The “enchantment of security”.  I know lots of people who are enchanted by security.  One of them is me!  I find the thought of security entirely enchanting!  For instance, I hate traveling out of the country.  While I hate the discomfort, and all the inconveniences, the hardest part is the lack of security.  So much could go so very wrong, and for many people, it does!  I’ve read the stories.  It happens!  But God never promised any of us security here, or that things would not go wrong.  In fact, the one thing he did promise is that if we truly were following Him, obeying Him and doing the things He called us to do, then things WOULD go awry, and would be hard, and that we would be persecuted and have all sorts of trials.  And yet, so many of us chase relentlessly after security when, as Piper said, it’s all a mirage.  It doesn’t exist.  From Piper, “There is sometimes a subtle selfishness behind our avoidance of risk taking.  There is a hypocrisy that lets us take risks every day for ourselves but paralyzes us from taking risks for others on the Calvary road of love.  We are deluded and think that such risk may jeopardize a security that in fact does not even exist.” 



And so, while many would say the way my husband lives
and the things he does are “risky”
I see that what he has always wanted most
was to see things the way God sees them,
and value the things that God values, and care about the things God cares most about,
 and that risk was an inherent part of that and a non-negotiable reality. 
It’s taken me several years to learn the same thing. 


I cannot even remember what I said to my husband that day in April, when Elizabeth walked out my door with her mother, just as he was walking in.  I think that I may not have said a thing.  Or if anything, I may have voiced to him what was echoing in my mind that whole time:

“I could do this.”  

But I do remember that without hesitation, his response was simply:

“Check it out.”

And that gives me chills on this April day eleven years later.  Why? 
At the time, it was a completely normal thing for him to say, in fact, I could have predicted that reaction.  But in all my years since then, I have seen that most husbands would not have had that response.  Most husbands do not have that response.  Most husbands are hesitant, resistant, fearful.  Most husbands, whether they’d like to admit it or not, are very enchanted with security, and with their quiet, safe life.  They like to come home and find refuge, and close the door and leave the world outside.  They've worked hard for it, and they deserve it.  They want to be comfortable, and safe.  And is there anything wrong with that? 

On the surface it seems reasonable, except for the fact that, God has not called us to be safe, or comfortable.  He has called us to a live a life that is risky.  To do otherwise could be cowardly, or it could be selfish.  It is clutching on to parts of your life that you are telling God He is not allowed to touch.  It is telling God that you have given what you are willing to give of yourself, and that the rest of it is your own.  But God has not asked for part of us;  He has asked for all of us.  And giving all of yourself cannot be without risk. 

What if?  What if my husband had looked back at me and said he wasn’t so sure about that, or that it cost too much, or that our kids were already so old and why start again?  What if he had even shown an inkling of reservation or doubt? 

I know what if.  I would have dropped it.  Because it was a daring and scary thought, and I was a timid and submissive woman, constantly questioning and second guessing and fretting.  I needed no encouragement to get off this track.  All he would have had to say was that he was not so sure, and I would have agreed.  And that would likely have been the end of that.


And six children would not be here. 
And at least five of them, I know, would almost certainly not ever have had
a family at all,
if they had even survived. 


Think about that for a moment.  And for those of you who know our kids,
know their faces,
know their voices,
think even harder….


It was my husband who, when I approached him apprehensively with a picture of a twisted and broken little boy that I had been looking at for a couple of months, dispelled my fears, almost in a scolding way.  While I had never heard of international adoption before our first adoption, I also had never heard of special needs adoption or waiting children.  My first view of this twisted little boy, I was taken aback.  As I looked over the list of darling children with minimal special needs, this one did not make anyone smile.  In fact, while I pitied him, I also recoiled and thought to myself, “Who would take the risk of adopting that?” 

And yet, his picture gripped me.   I had no peace.  And when I went to my husband with my list of reasons why this was not a good idea, he barely looked at the misshapen little boy in the photo, but simply said, “What?  Are we buying a car here?  You don’t pick and choose your options.  You bring ‘em home, and I’ll love ‘em up.  Same as it’s always been.”   And when I expressed to him that nobody knew what was wrong with this child, and that it could be a tumor, and he could just come home to die, my husband looked at me, puzzled, and said, “Well, wouldn’t it be better for him to die in the arms of a family that loves him than to die alone in an orphanage in China?” 

I knew the answer to that.


 
 
 
 

Each time we brought a child home, I felt it was my last.  Adoption is hard.  I don’t have time to write about all the ways that it is hard.  Each time, I felt I was done.  And I marvel at how God placed each child in my path, and how my husband’s words of encouragement were what I needed in order to take the risk.  To dive in one more time, like Steven Curtis Chapman wrote, “So sink or swim, I’m diving in.” 

I am thankful for a husband who takes risk without blinking, and who loves deeply but never ostentatiously.  A man who adores his kids with abandon.  He wants to be with them every chance he can get. He works harder than any man I’ve known, and is a perfectionist because of his own worth ethic:  loving his family and all those God has placed in his path to care about, and through this, ultimately to glorify God.  I have never once heard him complain about work.  He gives without reserve and without condition.  He gives no weight to the accolades of man.  He lives a life of risk.  He gets it. 





It's been a wild ride, but thank God, my husband has taught me to "get it" too.  Not without resistance on my part, but... he's a patient man too. 
...



3 comments:

  1. Love your post and I can say I married his "brother"…May I repost your blog post. I love your heart and your husband's…such kindred spirits who totally "get It" . I also love every book I have read by John Piper.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Absolutely!! And now my next problem: how do we find men like this for our daughters? The last time I met a man like this, I married him. My daughter has such a heart for adoption and a heart for God, and she is so amazing -- where are the young men out there who are like our men?

    ReplyDelete