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How to save a life

I have been reflecting a bit this week on where we started and how unbelievably overwhelmed I was by life.  We have some sweet friends that have just stepped into new territory as foster / adoptive parents.  As I read about their willingness to say yes to two new children for an undetermined amount of time, it catapulted me back to our beginning.

As I sit on this side of our story, knowing I’m not at the end – but some chapters have closed, I was able to understand more clearly some of what was going on in me during that season that felt like a lifetime.  I thought it might be helpful to share some of it because it can be applied not only in situations like ours, but really in almost any relationship.  We all encounter seasons of life that are bigger than us.  The saying that God will not give you more than you can handle is pretty much bullshit.  {sorry}  I have spent two years living out of that lie.

What God does say can be found in 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Sorry for my strong thoughts up there… but you have to understand, I spent a long time believing  what felt like would take me under was something I should be able to handle… and the truth is, I couldn’t. But his grace was sufficient and his power was perfect in my weakest days.

What did that look like, practically, for us?  Well, when we said yes to Baby Girl I knew I was unprepared but I didn’t have a clue what to do.  My mom wanted to throw a “baby shower” but I didn’t want anyone to feel like they needed to help us.  (I’ll get to my issues later.)   Someone told my mom not to listen to me, and they went and registered us at Target for many practical things we would need to welcome a baby into our home. And people blessed us.  I had no idea I would need a diaper genie. But I can tell you after the first week of crap I was sooo glad someone saw that coming and bought me one.  Grace was someone taking the time to see my needs before I even knew them myself.

Another way I experienced grace was through the people that have loved us unconditionally, speaking truth and offering hope.  When I had days that I questioned if we would all survive, I can guarantee you that my mom and my sister were faithfully talking me down and lifting me up.  They reminded me of truth, they spoke words that gave courage and they held my arms up when it felt like I couldn’t even stand.  You friends, you spoke truth to me as well.  I absolutely love to read your words that encourage us and tell us of your prayers.  And when you tell me how our story has impacted you, that breathes life into me.  It helps me connect with God’s larger story and reminds me that this is not just about me and my small battles.  God’s grace is so sufficient.

Part of walking with someone through seasons like ours is that you need to be a safe place, a place where honesty can happen. The key to being a safe place is found in vulnerability.  Vulnerability breeds safety.  When someone unloads the gut-honest truth about how they feel they don’t need to be met with a cliche that everything happens for a reason… they need to be met with a connection that says, you are not alone – how can I walk with you?

For so long I didn’t know how to receive help.  People offered but I couldn’t handle it.  I felt like we are the ones who said yes and we were the ones who took on the responsibility and the pain.  While that is largely true, that does not mean that people can’t help us carry the load.  I just (in the past six months) learned that my primary love language is acts of service.  I had no clue!  Then I realized how loved I feel when my husband sees that I need help.  It took a huge fight for us to get there… but I was finally able to see that when he says this simple phrase, how can I help you?  I feel seen, loved and not alone.  As I began to understand that, I was also able to see how I had been pushing away the very thing my heart desired and people around me were offering.  Sometimes I will still say I don’t need it, but just you offering fills my cup!

Looking back, I realize that I spent a lot of energy trying to protect the world from my kids.  I have often said we are a walking circus.  Our circus is crazy, full of drama, lots of giggles and little obedience.  I have no freaking control over our circus.  And because of that, I avoided a lot of things.  I’ll never forget one night when a friend looked at me and said “I can handle that you have kids. I can even help you.”  I lived in a lie that believed I couldn’t let my circus show, I had to keep it wrapped up in a bow – which was impossible – so life had to be put on hold.  Then there are some friends that found our circus to be fun, or at the very least, amusing… and they pushed through my walls.  I cannot tell you how forever thankful I am for a dear one that used to just take over bath-time… and she made it fun!  I sat in amazement that she could handle the chaos with such ease and she never looked as stressed as I always felt.  She taught me through example how to relax and love my girls differently.  I needed her.

The other big thing I would say is don’t feed fear.  Trust me, every one of us is aware of the reality of our situation.  Many of us have spent time counting the cost even before we said yes.  So telling us how dangerous or scary it is isn’t helpful.  We (personally) made a conscious decision that we do not want to make decisions based on fear.  We want to live with an awareness of our situation but not in fear of it.  We consistently assess whether we need to make any adjustments, address any concerns or make major moves for the safety of our girls.  It can be even harder for our families who support us but see the scariness of it all.  In those places speak truth, give life and pray for God’s grace.  Everyone needs it.

When it comes to supporting, here’s what I suggest:

1. Help assess the practical needs and think of ways to meet them.   Coordinate meals, or childcare, or just another human being to help with bath and bedtimes.
2. Be a safe place.  Not everything we say is going to be pretty, love us anyway.
3. Speak Truth. Remind us of God’s faithfulness, his promises and his word.
4. Give hope. Point us back to Jesus, everyday.
5. Don’t feed fear.
6. Pray. Never stop praying
7.  Help us laugh… funny times bring healing.  Help us see the fun in the hard places.
8.  If appropriate… bring wine.  God bless all you parents that have survived without it.

You all know life can be hard, but we were not designed to do it in isolation.  It so much more fun to do these things together.  #lovedoes

 

1 thought on “How to save a life”

  1. hello my dear family, you two are awesome… my prayers are with you..you are doing a great , beautiful , wonderful thing with your kids… you changed their lives…. God bless you for that..
    thanks for sharing your family with us… i love you all…..

    Like

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