Thursday, July 25, 2013


I have trust issues. With humans mainly. I don't like it when people are dishonest. There are a lot of folks who simply don't tell the truth. If I interact with very many in a row, I'm sorta ready to live out my days in a cave.

When I was young, my family endured a betrayal of sorts. After that pivotal season, though what we understood of forgiveness had been offered, we each had to navigate relationships through wounded feelings. I subconsciously decided to dive deep into a dream world of denial. "Everything is fine. If it's good, it's probably not that good, and if it's bad, I simply cannot know about that ... things are really fine."

When circumstances looked favorable, I quickly considered all the many ways they could shift -without warning - toward my demise. When life was hard, it instantly proved all my fears were merited ... until the next second when I would ignore my honest feelings, deny any hurt, suck up any emotions, and move on. Healthy? Not quite.

My brothers tease me about my typical adolescent response to crisis. Let's say someone was ill in the back seat. (No names, JW) That's just not a very calm or lovely thought. So I would speak it into an alternate existence, "He's fine. It's good. We'll be fine." (All the brothers are shaking their heads.)

When I met Philip, his confident, compassionate interest in me seemed to be able to plunge straight through all my self-protecting barriers. I allowed him access to my feelings ... so I cried a lot. As we got to know each other, I tried relentlessly to push him away. I loved him. I loved me with him. But, I implemented tactics that ranged from evasive to downright mean only to test his resolve and to give him every opportunity to hurt me. Something in my heart needed to prove to myself that people basically could not be trusted. Again, oh, so healthy. pshh.

I really tried to love Philip whole-heartedly. But he had his own issues. He had a pattern of saying what he thought I wanted to hear. (Note to all: the TRUTH is what I ALWAYS want to hear. Be brave. Break it to me. I will know if you're not.) I had been so reserved and dysfunctional in my relational development with Philip, that even after a year of marriage, honestly, my father was still the most important man in my life... the one I trusted the most. So on that Friday morning, when Dad dropped dead in the middle of a sentence, I faced relational bankruptcy.

After the stock market crashes, one rethinks EVERY investment. As I assess my interactions with Philip after Dad's funeral, I realize I had decided to go the "cash under the mattress" strategy. Just try to save what you have, but any further risk might mean further damage. Further damage was unacceptable.

I came to this truth during a movie: "Shadowlands" starring Anthony Hopkins about the life and philosophy of C.S. Lewis. As Lewis considers the heartache involved in sharing his wife's last days together ... making the most of their time ... he explains, "The pain then [after she's gone], is part of the joy now." I wept. Hard.

Why did Dad's death hurt so badly? Because I had never held anything back with my relationship with him. We enjoyed one another fully ... even during the testy teen years.  Of course I thought he was majorly annoying in the mid-eighties, but I could always trust Him to be honest with me. Even after he chastised, he would hug and pray; so those moments, too, became a sweet time of growth.

Watching that movie through my tears, I knew I would have never wanted to miss out on any joy I found in Dad's love simply to avoid that heartache. Yet, I was systematically withholding my emotions with Philip and many others ... in high hopes of avoiding hurt and pain.

I'd love to report that I immediately began to invest and trust and enjoy. Yeah, wouldn't that be super?

So anyway ... 20 years of self-preservation later ...

(Imagine me with an index finger in each ear and eyes closed: "la-la-la-la-la!")

These past couple years, God has been doing a new thing in me. That hard little seed of truth that lay dormant for decades, has been unearthed and has sprung to life. "The pain then, is part of the joy now." If I desire to "certainly discover joy" (sheesh, it's my stinking blog title, for cryin' out loud!) I cannot fear the pain.

I have to relinquish my self-granted rights to protect myself. I have to acknowledge that I am incapable of producing peace. I have to submit my controlling agenda to His promise to protect and His plan to produce peace in and through me.

So ... this foster to adopt situation ... 2 years ago, this would have been my response: (in a sweet, Southern Baptist, prayer request drawl to mask my tendency to judge)
"Y'all... we need to pray for my sister-in-law ... it's such a difficult situation ... her baby needs our prayers as well ... such a heart-breaking ..."

And I would have just been saying "heart-breaking" in theory, because, most likely, I would not have allowed myself to shed one. single. tear. for that baby boy.

And to wrap it up so we can go on with our tidy little lives: "So, Y'all ... let's just trust God to work all this out for good. Amen."


Not this year.

My life is freshly surrendered to God. (That scary-good Guy who has a scary-good plan for me and everyone else.) My heart and mind are open to all sorts of circumstances and emotions. And so I cry. a lot. And that starts to embarrass me, then I remember that a display of healthy emotions is real and good. So I put my pride back in my pocket and I cry some more.

I cry because I love that baby boy. Like, really love him even though I don't really know him.

I cry because I love Philip. And not just because he loves that baby more than it would make sense to.

I cry because this is NOT neat and tidy. People's struggles and habits are messy and complicated. Wounds are rarely cute. There are no easy answers, and all I know to do is to keep walking even if I'm a tiny bit afraid of what's next.

I cry because I love the children I have birthed. I never even knew how blessed we are. How spoiled our perceptions have been ... literally wasting away. How freeing forgiveness is. How marvelous our little collection of folks under one roof is becoming.

I cry because there are several sweet friends who are consistently honest with me, and that makes me happy. Gratefully happy.

I cry because God is so kind. So KIND. He didn't leave me in the chaos I called control. He invited me to step out from behind my ridiculously eloquent speeches, and to clumsily become an active part of His redeeming plan. Then He gave me the courage and grace to say "yes."

It's all Him ... to Him and through Him and in Him and for Him.

And what if the "foster" doesn't result in "adoption"?

This would be a good spot to talk about the fact that folks aren't always honest. People in the system change their minds, fail to recall their conversations, revise their verdicts and opinions, and flat out lie. And that's ok.

Because I totally trust the One who is commanding my destiny. He may allow hardship and pain, but He loves me. He comforts and heals. He might lead me through difficult relationships or circumstances, but He has promised never to leave me. He might choose to work through government officials and legal experts who don't acknowledge Him and are unworthy of my trust, but He is utterly trustworthy.

We're only given today.
I can choose to live fully and love deeply - fully understanding there may be deep pain in the future. Or I can protect myself and guard my emotions...but that's not loving, and certainly not living.
So I choose life.
I walk in faith and discover joy... and get really ok with the activity of crying ... because I've heard there is healing in tears, and I'm beginning to believe it:)

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
    he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
    I will call on him as long as I live.
The cords of death entangled me,
    the anguish of the grave came over me;
    I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
    Lord, save me!
The Lord is gracious and righteous;
    our God is full of compassion.
The Lord protects the unwary;
    when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return to your rest, my soul,
    for the Lord has been good to you.
For you, Lord, have delivered me from death,
    my eyes from tears,
    my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the Lord
    in the land of the living.
10 I trusted in the Lord when I said,
    “I am greatly afflicted”;
11 in my alarm I said,
    “Everyone is a liar.”
12 What shall I return to the Lord
    for all his goodness to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
    and call on the name of the Lord.
14 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
    in the presence of all his people.
15 Precious in the sight of the Lord
    is the death of his faithful servants.
16 Truly I am your servant, Lord;
    I serve you just as my mother did;
    you have freed me from my chains.
17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you
    and call on the name of the Lord.
18 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
    in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the Lord
    in your midst, Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord.