Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Through Her Lens

She has a smile that lights up the room.  Her joy emanates and her spirit is contagious.  She is smart and strong and witty and funny.  She loves Jesus.  She shows me Jesus.  Through her, I have come to know Jesus more intimately.  She is my gift.

Often times, I get lost in her beautiful brown eyes while thanking God for choosing me, for allowing me to be Sassy's mama.

She carries deep scars.  Scars that her smile and fun loving personality go to great lengths to mask.  And yet, she is only three years old.  Some experts try to tell us that young children will forget their early childhood trauma, but I simply do not accept that.  No, actually I flat out reject that idea.  Her scars are simply woven into her fabric and while God redeems hurts and helps us to grieve forward, some scars become part of one's identity.

But there is someone else that also carries deep scars.  A nameless, faceless person I will probably never meet this side of heaven.  A person I pray for daily and think of often.  I was reminded of that person the other night.

While watching Downton Abbey {Spoiler Alert: stop reading if you have not watched Season 3, Episode 4!} and seeing/feeling/sensing Ethel go through the painful and heart wrenching process of deciding to give up her baby boy, Charlie, for adoption and therefore come to terms with the fact she will never see him again, I simply lost it.  Lost! It!  I pictured this same scene unfolding in a tiny town in southern Ethiopia.  I imagined a person who loved her/his child so very much, who had tried her/his best to love and take care of a child, but simply could not provide for very basic needs.  I imagined this person dropping off their child on the streets, a child who was old enough to walk, and then running safely out of sight before crumpling the ground in tears, weighted down with pain, shame, sorrow, and guilt.

No parent or guardian should ever be forced to make that horrid decision, and yet so many are forced to make that exact decision every day.  Why?  Poverty, injustice, oppression, curable and treatable illnesses, and lack of support systems to name just a few.  That is the lens I often view adoption from.  Through the eyes of the person forced to make an unthinkable decision.  Perhaps that seems depressing, but it is true.  That is reality.  Adoption would not be necessary on the scale it is today if we (humanity) cared enough about each other to correct major flaws in our global systems.  But we would rather carry on with the busyness and distractions in our lives that keep us from addressing some very real needs in our world.

So, when people say our children are "lucky" or "blessed",  I certainly understand their sentiment and agree that yes, our children certainly are lucky to have safely arrived to her new family, with the hope of brighter future.  However, I think many fail to recognize that in order for adoption to be necessary, something went seriously wrong on the other side of the equation.  No parent should ever have to make the decision to give up her child.  None.  There was no "luck" going on there, that is for sure.  Only pain, hopelessness, despair, grief, etc., etc.   There was a woman or man so very desperate that they could think of nothing better to do than to abandon a child on the streets.  Could you imagine?  I cannot.  But praise God for opening our eyes to the layers of wrong in our world.  Praise God.  Their fights are now our fights.  Their hurts, ours.  Their pain, our pain.  We grieve and grow forward, embracing God's plan for our lives while never, not for one second, forgetting the truth.

God speaks through our children's past tragedies to show us his unfailing love, mercy, and compassion.  We are blessed, we are the lucky ones.  If there is any luck going on at all in this scenario it is that our lives have been gloriously wrecked and forever altered by joining God on his mission to care for the fatherless and seek justice.  It is that through our journeys into God's heart, God has given us a purpose and direction that would have been missed had we forfeited the opportunity to grow our family through adoption.

But what about you?  Have you figured out what God's purpose if for this chapter in your life?  What is God asking you to do?  Viewing the world through whose lens breaks your heart?  The orphan? The widow?  The recovering addict?  The homebound?  The sick?  What it is?  Join God there.  Say yes.

I'll close with one question and I pray that you spend time in prayer and reflection thinking about this:
Why do you think God has given you more than you need? 

Leviticus 19:9
"When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edgesof your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest.  Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God."

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