Growing up, I was a pretty good kid. The youngest of 4 siblings, I learned to watch my older brothers and sister and take notes on the things to do… and not to do. (The “not to do” page grew fairly lengthy in our particular case 🙂 ). I avoided some of the pitfalls my siblings fell into and graduated from high school known as a “good girl.”
As a result of this avoidance-type-good-girl behavior, I fooled myself into thinking I didn’t sin very much. Sure, I had the occasional jealous thought and maybe told a “white lie” every now and then, but compared to my adventurous sibs? I wore a halo.
Until I got married. Suddenly there was this other person living with me, taking up my space, seeing all my “stuff,” and some of that stuff wasn’t very pretty. The things I had successfully hidden or ignored up until that point began to take on a mind of their own and ooze out all over the place. I tried frantically to scoop it all up and stuff it back in, but there was too much of it. It was everywhere. I panicked. Who am I if I’m not the “good girl?”
God has graciously taken me from trying to save myself with a good-girl-halo to admitting that I need help from the outside. In fact, I need a Savior and one only person meets the criteria for the job: Jesus. The Jesus I loved in high school Young Life as my friend, became the Jesus I ran to as my only hope in my 20s.
Over the course of my adult life and walk with Jesus, this is what growth has looked like for me: becoming more and more aware of my own sin and my desperate need for a Savior. After adjusting to marriage, God brought other people and circumstances into my life to serve the same purpose. To show me that I’m not at all equipped to save myself. To show me that I need Jesus, every day. Conflicts, the stresses of church planting, loss, and grief all contributed to knocking off my self-made halo and send me running to Jesus.
But nothing, perhaps, has convinced me of my need for a Savior more than adoption. You see, after raising 2 biological children according to all the wisdom of all those books, I felt like I had done a pretty good job. I had a boy and girl who were obedient for the most part, good students, and liked by their peers. Heck, they even liked to read and spend time at home. (Excuse me while I shine my halo and make sure you can see it.)
Nice picture isn’t it? One my best friends reflected with me on this time of my life last weekend and said from the outside it seemed “tidy.” We had our boy and girl, they looked like us, acted like us, and we were all preparing to sail into the “good boy and girl” sunset. Nice and tidy.
But just as God wasn’t willing to leave my teenage self to the fiction of my own righteousness, he wasn’t willing to leave my adult parent-self there either. He knew I might grip that shiny halo for all it’s worth and never turn to him for help again. And he knew that would kill me.
And so for the last 5 years we have been on the super-sanctifying, halo-tipping, white knuckling ride of adoption.
I’ve had to learn to parent 2 little boys who have suffered loss and trauma. I’ve had to learn about attachment disorders and sensory disorders and the effects of a stressed-out brain on a little person. So far we’ve dealt with anxiety, difficulty sleeping, tantrums, eczema, debilitating fear, delayed development and food issues. And we’re just getting started. I’ve had to throw the books and methods out the window and dig around for new ones. I feel like I haven’t slept well in years. I’ve had to wait and struggle and cry and hope and sometimes wonder what in the world happened to my tidy life.
And, by the way, I can’t even find that halo anymore.
Adoption is changing me by making me more aware of my own sin. Yesiree. I can’t depend on myself because I don’t know what I’m doing. I can’t rely on my own righteousness because I know I don’t have any. All that ugly stuff that began oozing out when I got married? Well there is a whole lot more where that came from, let me tell you. It’s oozed out so much over my whole house and life, forget scooping it up. I need a heavy powered shop vac.
So what happens now? Do I just slip and slide in my sin-muck all over my hardwood floors and the hearts of my children? I would, if not for Jesus. That would be my only choice.
But I am seeing my friend and Savior gently parent me these days by calmly and quietly cleaning up my mess. Wiping the tears from my cheeks and telling me it’s going to be ok. Holding my frantic halo-searching hands in his and looking into my eyes. And giving me what I oh-so-desperately need and can’t find on my own: his righteousness. The gospel.
Yes, adoption is changing me by making me more aware of my own sin. But adoption is also making me more aware of the gospel. And my absolute and undeniable need for Jesus.
And for that, I am forever grateful.
I’m celebrating National Adoption Month here at kitchenstool with a new series:
2 Ways Adoption is Changing Me
Part 1: Adoption is making me more aware of my own sin… and the gospel.
Stay tuned for the rest of the posts in this series!
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