This post was hard to write. God is pushing me to deeper levels of faith that have me searching the scripture and clinging to His words.
Nice, Christian Platitudes Aren’t Enough
When Chuck and I set out to adopt in 2001 we had one objective only, to offer a home to a child who needed one. We looked at our five children, six years old and under, our home, our love, and knew we needed to offer that to a child in need. Neither of us would say we fell “called” to adopt. But I can tell you this, there was no way for me to ignore these verses and still hold on to my faith:
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
What if Raising a Good Christian Family Isn’t in My Job Description?
If you have ever visited the about me page on this blog you will see that all I ever wanted was the perfect family.
A house full (and I mean really full) of little feet, days spent homeschooling, living and learning together. A peaceful home on a lovely piece of property with free-range chickens and a few cows (for milk and meat). A big, beautiful, lush organic garden to supply our family’s needs. Instead, I ended up with real, live children who often interrupt me, a black thumb, and a chunk of property that no one has time to keep up with.
And all of that is true. What is left out of my about me page and its attempt at humor, is that I never dreamed my Nice Christian Family would include calls to the police, a child in a locked psych unit (more than once), and a family stretched to its very limits by behaviors we never even dreamed possible.
My dream of a perfect family never included behaviors that would be seen as so very “unchristian”. My dream, when we adopted drug and alcohol affected babies, never included feeling so very isolated from the very Christians who had faith that our “love and structure” would change the lives of these children. But here we are and I have finally realized that just as God never asked me to wear dresses, he also never asked me to have a nice Christian family.
What if My Children’s Salvation Isn’t Dependent On Me?
As a young mom, it seemed possible to grab onto the promises of the Bible. You know, As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord…train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.
But here’s the thing…none of those are a promise of salvation. On a more pragmatic level, I can see so very clearly that none of us can bring others to salvation.
That is God’s job and always has been.
What if Following Jesus Doesn’t Look Very Christian?
Friends, our family doesn’t always look “Christian”. We have children who swear. Children who get suspended from school. Children who are rude (hello, fight or flight) and disrespectful. For years (and in the years we adopted two babies) we attended a church that put a lot of emphasis on appearances. I have no doubt they would deny that statement, but the reality is, we were taught to dress, look, and act a certain way as Christians. To be an example to others so we could draw them to Jesus. Anything out of that box that was frowned upon. And judged.
Children who struggle with attachment need to be shown they are loved over and over. This is more important than first-time obedience and going to Sunday school.
If there is one thing I have learned in a decade and a half of raising adopted, special needs kids, it’s that it is impossible (and often harmful) to try to force these kids into a mold they were never meant to be in.
If my children were blind or in a wheelchair, we would not be judged by other Christians for their lack of sight or walking. But the behaviors they display due to trauma to their brains?
There is no room in (most) churches for that.
What if advocating for my kids doesn’t look, Christian?
What if my job is to show the gritty, messy, reckless love of Jesus to my children every. single. day?
What if I am called to show the love of Jesus to my children over and over and over again even as they reject it? And reject me? What if I return their hurtful actions with love instead of discipline? Connection before correction.
Day after day, week after week, year after year.
What if advocating means running after my children to bring them home when have lost their way? Or waiting at home with open arms time after time again. Jesus gives us more than one example of this. The shepherd leaving the ninety-nine to go after his one lost sheep. The story of the prodigal son. I love my children fiercely, even when it is the most difficult thing I have ever done.
You might think they “walk all over me”. You might see me “enabling” my children.
In reality, I am being their external brain because they need one. I am loving them over and over like Jesus commanded us to.
What If Showing the Love of Jesus Means We Don’t Go to Church on Sundays?
I have one child who has sensory issues that make church very, very difficult for him. I have another child whose unique brain means she just doesn’t fit in with the other girls. As a result, she has been rejected time and time again by girls at church. I don’t blame the girls. They are just kids. They are not trauma-informed. My point is that attending church is a painful experience for my daughter. An experience filled with rejection. And my typical children? They have failed to connect with the other kids at our church. We fill an entire pew with our family and still feel alone.
Is forcing our child to go to a church where they don’t “fit in” going to bring them closer to Jesus?
What if I Come to the End of This and Realize I haven’t Made a Difference? How Do We Define Success?
Made a difference? Been successful? We followed God’s call, we opened our home, we lived out the gospel.
In that, our work is complete.
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