Choosing Hard Things

This is the first week of school and so far, it has exceeded my wildest expectations.  My son Charlie does not like change, suffers from anxiety, and had been saying several weeks prior that he did not want to go back to school.

However, in the meantime he attended an incredible week of therapy disguised as camp (thank you, Bethany Christian Services), where he learned a lot about dealing with his fears and anxiety.  He was also assigned a classroom at school where he already knew the teacher, in the same building that he is familiar with, and with two friends that he is crazy about. 

This classroom also happens to have a guinea pig named Hotdog, which has proven to be like therapy on its own.  Charlie tells me that Hotdog “feels nervous too, just like me!  So, together we can help each other feel calm in the mornings.” 

Someone tell me that God can’t use anything He chooses to minister to us.

So, I have been rejoicing this week, and thankful that the year is off to a great start.  I’ve also had some free time with two of my three kids already in school, and I’ve been cleaning out some of Charlie’s adoption paperwork.  (We adopted him from China two years ago, and I hadn’t opened the bin since.)

It has been a cathartic experience at an interesting time.

Charlie is in such a great place emotionally right now, probably the best he’s been in the two years he’s been home, and I am purging through these papers reminding me of his past.  Not only the difficult things he went through, but how long he went through them.  His paperwork was prepared for his adoption when he was two years old, and we didn’t come until he was seven.

I was also flooded with stress and emotions regarding the royal pain of the process of adoption, at least from China.  The paperwork is insane, the red tape is sometimes ludicrous, and the wait is so taxing.  It is an incredibly hard and emotional journey.   Then you finally get your child home and the difficulties have only just begun.  Parenting kids from hard places is just so painful, so draining. 

Would I do it again?  Yes.  But, in the middle of my contentment at where we are today, I had a tangible reminder of how hard it was.  I don't want to forget.  Remembering the trials helps me relate and understand others when they are in the middle of it.

I wish that adoption was easier.  There are so many children who need homes, and so few people who are able to provide them.  I wish I could show everyone Charlie today and say, “Please adopt an orphan.  Look at how amazing this kid is!  Don’t you want another one just like him?”  But that's not appropriate, or the full story.  

God moved mountains to get him to us, and then more to help him become as healthy as he is today.  It was not a picnic, and there were more storms than rainbows, at least for a while.

Many adopted kids will need therapy, some will need residential care, and others may never show you that they love you.  But, take heart!  If God has called you to this, He is using you.  It is not easy, but through your love and commitment to these children, you are changing the world, and certainly changing the future.

Not all of us are called to adopt or foster, but if you think you are, don’t doubt the call because it’s hard.

If you know you’re not called to adopt or foster, support those who are.  Be their friend, bring them a meal, pray for them, support their adoption financially.  It takes a village to not only bring the child home, but also to raise them.

Several years ago, I read a book called Radical by my college friend David Platt.  The premise is that the American Dream is a lie and not what Jesus has called us to. The hard stuff is what he has called us to.  This was such a counter-cultural book, but I believe it is biblical, and it really helped shape my world view.

What's more, I think my inherent personality has always drawn me to hard things.  As a child I always loved sad movies, I grew up to be a cancer nurse, I still tend to pick the sad books.  I think that seeing the world from tough situations helps me learn so much about humanity. 

I am lucky enough (or blessed) to know that hard doesn't equal bad. God’s plan for us is that we would get our hands dirty and bring hope to this dying world. Sometimes God uses us to change another person’s story, but He always changes our story in the process.

Yes, now I can show you Charlie’s progress and successes, but even if I couldn’t, I could certainly show you how I have grown and changed through it all.  Not all adoptions have happy endings, but I believe there is good that is brought out of nearly all of them.

God uses these stories for His Kingdom and we are all better for it.

It is not “normal” to want to bring a blind seven year old boy who doesn’t speak English into your family.  It is insane.

I have friends who live among and minister to the poor and they get their house broken into on the regular.  That is infuriating.

I have co-workers who face death daily among cancer patients.  That is exhausting.

It is not very appealing to choose the difficult path, but we all have opportunities to do so.  To take care of the dying, to befriend the mourning widow, to take the hurting and draining child into our home as our son or daughter, to stand up for the marginalized, to feed and clothe the hungry and poor, to speak up about racism to our friends and family who don’t understand why we care so much...

 We can’t each do all of these things well, but we can all do our part.

Choosing the hard is not appealing, but it is sacred.  It is difficult, but it is beautiful.  It is refining, and it is molding us to be exactly who God created us to be.

Doing the hard thing is not easy, ever.  But it is worth it, always.


Now if someone could convince me the same about exercise, that would be great.