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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Life Isn't Fair

Anyone who steps out in faith in a way the world views as "radical" is going to be subject to criticism. The Bible tells us we should not be surprised by such criticism -- indeed we should expect it. "and you will be hated by all for my name's sake..." Matt 10:22, ESV

Throughout this adoption journey, Dan and I faced much criticism and discouragement from Believers and non-Believers alike. By this point we've heard all of the "perfectly good reasons" not pursue adoption. We've actually even been pointed to scriptures that, when slightly twisted and taken out of context, argue against adoption. Yikes! But for Dan and me both the criticism that probably hurt the most, the one that stung us the worst was this... "what about your real children? Is it fair for you to disrupt Madeline, Davis and Charlotte's lives in this way? How could you do this to them?

You don't have to adopt to hear this kind criticism from other Believers... just take any giant step of faith and it will come...pick up your family to become an overseas missionary, move to the inner city, become a foster parent, leave your well-paying job for full-time ministry, help plant a new church. Mark my words -- people will ask you "what about your children?? Is this fair to them?"

So, what about Madeline, Davis and Charlotte? Life has gotten busy and crazy around here and there's certainly less of Mommy to go around. I mean one day this week I was standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes and I started feeling a little weird and dizzy and I suddenly realized I'd not eaten a thing all day -- it was 4:30 in the afternoon. We busy.

My Madeline is loving the big sister role. She is built for this, she's perfect for it. She's right there with me handing out snacks, wiping noses, tying shoelaces. Yesterday I overheard her in the den with Davis, Joseph and Hannah. There was some dispute over a toy and Madeline was directing the younger ones to share, take turns, etc. I started to walk in and take over but honestly, I had nothing to add to her words because she'd handled it exactly as I would have. She's doing great and loving it.

Baby Charlotte is fine. She is refeshingly indifferent and unchanged by the events of the last few weeks. What's that? Two new people with completely different physical features and a strange language now live in our home? OK, sounds good. I'll be playing with the stacking blocks if you need me.

But my Davis. He's struggling. He's the one with the most to gain -- a brother and a sister almost exactly his age. But he's also the one with the most to lose -- a brother and a sister almost exactly his age who love all his toys, his books, his bike, his leapfrog pad... not to mention his Daddy and his Mommy. I'm homeschooling Davis this year so prior to this week, he and Baby Charlotte were at home alone with me everyday. With the small interruption of our morning lessons and some very minimal chores, Davis is basically used to spending his time however he'd like. Occasionally Baby C might crawl into his room and mess up his latest legos creation or push around his cars but for the most part, no one messes with his stuff. During the day I am available to Davis pretty much anytime he "needs" anything. And he never has to wait in line for anything.

And in the blink of an eye his whole little world changed. Sure he has a new brother and sister and when playtime rolls around, that's fun. Otherwise, that's a lot of compromise. It's a lot of sharing and waiting and an incredible exercise in self-control and patience.

So you ask me -- is this fair to Davis?

Well... is it fair NOT to give him an opportunity to learn to share his toys? To teach him to wait in line at the kitchen sink to wash his hands? To ask him to help Joseph put on his coat and buckle his seatbelt everytime we leave the house? To help him understand that everything can't always be about him and that sometimes our days are just plain hard? Frankly, I think it would be terribly UNfair for Dan and me not to teach Davis these lessons.

Plus, I don't think it'll take long for him to see that having a brother far outweighs having a bunch of stuff. I mean come on...

We can talk to our children about the gospel until we're blue in the face -- or we can give them opportunities to live the gospel. Take one of those giant steps of faith and don't mind the criticism -- actually, embrace it! For that means you're on the right track. "Not everyone who calls out to me 'Lord, Lord!' will enter the kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in Heaven will enter. Matt 7:21, NLT (emphasis mine).


the monkeys' mama said...

I cannot fathom someone feeling it necessary to challenge God's tugging on *your* hearts but I do know that Satan loves to discourage, question, and tempt and will use whatever resources he can find to do just that. Please know that you and your family are the greatest encouragement our family has toward our future adoptions and we are most thankful for your testimony and honesty. We love you!

Chasity said...

Ok, Shelly I LOVE this: "We can talk to our children about the gospel until we're blue in the face -- or we can give them opportunities to live the gospel." Wise words from one sweet momma!

Wild Olive said...

Girl...you ARE inside my brain. Dee-doo-dee-doo-dee-doo-dee-doo. (that's my creepy martian music...just go with it). Good words, sister!!!!

Julie said...

You should read the latest post on the "Building the Blocks" blog - "Why we adopted..." I think it will be an encouragement to you. Continuing to pray for your family. http://buildingtheblocks.blogspot.com/

Emily said...

Shelly, this post was really encouraging to me tonight. My husband is in Uganda right now and will go to court on Tuesday for our ruling to adopt two children, bringing us to four. Sometimes I feel really supported by our friends and family and other times (especially this week) I feel really alone on this journey. But we KNOW we are right where God wants us. Thank you for your words!!

Jennie said...

Impact on siblings is one of the primary reasons people cite for aborting children with disabilities too. I admit I was concerned before Micah was born that it would have a negative impact on Nathan. But I'm even more concerned about how self-centered Nathan would be if he DIDN'T have Micah as a brother.

Davis needs time to adjust to his "new normal." He'll do great, Shelly. But thank you for the reminder to pray for him specifically.

Joshua Goodling said...

If no one ever criticizes you in life - you've never done anything worth doing. And a LOT of times, it's the people who "claim" to be Christians that do the most criticism - because they know THEY would never be willing to do the same thing, and it makes their own life look bad.

Don't pay attention to a single word of the criticism - as long as you follow Jesus and obey His leading in your life - that's all that matters!

The E's said...

This is wisdom Shelly! Thanks for sharing it!

Anonymous said...

Shelly- I love this post because I remember all of the criticism that we received when we announced that we were adopting a baby from Russia. You should have heard some of the things that people told us. But God is so good and He will not be limited by other peopel's criticism. Now everyone that told us we shouldn't or couldn't adopt are amazed when they see Isabella. She looks so much like my husband that no one would know that she was adopted. She loves and adores her "Bubba" and she loves Joe-Joe our 80 lb. Boxer. I have no doubt that God chose me to be the mother of this beautiful blue eyed baby girl. He chose her for me long before she was born just like he chose you to be mommy to Hannah and Joseph. God's path for our lives is seldom easy but if we follow it we will know peace and happiness unlike any other. I am so glad that you and Dan chose to follow God's path for your lives instead of listening to other people's criticism. We are praying for you each day.

Alysia said...

AMEN! Spot on here, Shelly. Let's take Jesus' example: He was willing not only to share the goodness, vastness, and eternity of Heaven with every believing soul from day 1 until the last- but He was ALSO willing to die to share that with us. May we, and our children, learn to be like Him. The "real kids" thing is a heart breaker for every adoptive parent out there...with a feeling of, "People seriously don't get it." But it always presses me to the Gospel- I am God's REAL child BECAUSE he adopted me...and my kids (be they through adoption or physical birth) are my REAL kids. Not because of how they got here- but because the amazing God of the entire universe decided to give them to me...you can't get any more "real" than that! Be blessed and enjoy your whole, sweet family!!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh Shelly A BIG CONGRATS on bringing your babies home!!! And so fast what a miracle!! You know we foster alot and it does take alot and yeah the kids have less time with us and have to share more. Alot of our christain friends have said alot of weird stuff and can be so negative but Hayden and I decided that would not change a thing we want our kids to know what a life of sacrifice is really about. And it ain't all easy and it wont be! So love the realness you share cause it isn't all beautiful and amazing its real hard work and tiring and all the juggling and hoping somehow we will make it through to the next day lol!!! But we have to know what God has called us to and step out of the easy into sometimes the impossible and let go and let God. Ive so been wanting to contact you but my blogspot wont let me in such a pain. I'm Carlee MacLean from New Zealand. Are you on facebook? Would love to keep in touch and find out about getting hold of the 60feet org doco movie thing. thanks and may God bless you all heaps as your family blends into something beautiful.XXX Love Carlee

Amanda said...

Hey Shelly. I'm so happy you brought home Joseph and Hannah! Your children (all five of them!) are watching the gospel message play out right in front of their eyes. It's the beauty and joy of sharing yourself with others that shows on your face, and God willing, they'll want to live that way, too. You go, girl.