Today’s post is written by Jessica McCracken.
She writes at www.godsneezes.com
We’ve been on a journey to adoption for about ten months and along the way we have often heard
It’s nice to hear. The last ten months have been hard. The adrenaline rush that comes from following what you think you heard God say. The excitement of an answered prayer. The joy of two bundles of joy. The agonizing grief of the loss of one. The confusion and questioning that happens when God doesn’t come through. The never-ending process of paperwork. The worrying and waiting for a child that you feel with every fiber of your being is yours which is why you worry and wait but you’ve never held the child and she might never be yours. It takes a toll on your emotions, your mind, your marriage, your time, your goals, your energy. It’s hard. It’s hell.
So, yeah, hearing that we are amazing feels great.
And we are doing something pretty amazing. We are doing something that many people would never do even if they could, even if God called them to it. So it is amazing.
But that’s just it.
It’s amazing. This thing God has done in our lives. This thing we get to do. This journey we are on.
But us …. no actually not.
This is why I cringe a little when I heard these words, why my smile is sometimes forced.
Because I know what lurks beneath the surface of my heart and my home and my humanity: pride, sin, and the blame game.
Pride lurks. It waits to take root. It comes with self-righteousness and indignation, both of which give me dementia. I forget things like how being the daughter of a prison guard and preaching momma, how my personal story as the daughter of an adoptive step-father, and my current socio-economic status all play into my ability to take this journey. Yes, you don’t need to be rich (Thank God or we’d be in trouble) to adopt and you don’t need to lose a father and gain a second to do this. But these things have shaped me for this moment. I didn’t end up here because I am just innately more loving or more open. I forget that this same God who is giving us this amazing story isn’t limited to one script which means that He is crafting hosts of other stories that don’t include adoption but are just as amazing and God-breathed. Who I am to think that what God is doing in my life is now the blue-print for everyone else?
And then there’s sin.
So let’s get real. You don’t see my lack of control over my tongue, the way I can cut my husband, my sister, a friend to pieces with such precision. You don’t know that there is a part of me that still takes pride in that ability. You don’t see my lustful or hateful thoughts or hear my bursts of anger when things don’t go my way, all because I still haven’t grown up. How quickly I forget where I have come from, the things in me that are no longer but at one time were so easy to do and to be. And while none of these sins are the sum total of me, neither is this one area where I am amazing.
And less you worry that I’m trying for false humility, let me leave you with one more thought. Since the Fall in the Garden of Eden, we have been laying the blame on someone else. It’s always “he” or “she” that is the reason we don’t do what we should, the reason we aren’t more amazing.
Somewhere along the line we bought into this idea in the church; we just dressed it up a little and now it looks a little like this:
I’m not a good Christian.
You are just amazing; I could never do what you are doing.
Along the way we’ve come to believe that there are just some people that are innately better at this following Christ, at doing things for Him, when in reality we are just excusing ourselves from doing better, risking more, and blaming God because He clearly just made some people more amazing.
Now don’t get me wrong. Sometimes when we tell people they are amazing we are just simply noting the beauty of what they are doing and how God is working in them. And to be sure we all have things that we probably can’t do, our own human limitations.
But sometimes … sometimes I wonder if thinking certain people are amazing is just our way of never having to ask God the question of would He have us do “that thing” they are doing. We don’t have to hear the answer because we already know it: No. God wouldn’t ask us to do that because He knows we couldn’t because we aren’t that amazing.
But what if we stopped answering the question for him? What if we assumed that God might be calling us to something more amazing that where we are right now?
Because here’s the truth about our amazing journey. The adopting part really isn’t all that amazing. The amazing part of our journey is the faith it has required of me. Faith that God not only could, but would come through because, you see … I’m not one of those amazing people who has great faith. I don’t. I’m not wired that way. I am not the guy in the Bible who told Jesus, “only say the word and he (his servant) will be healed.” I’m more like the guy, who when Jesus questions his doubt and tells him anything is possible if one believes, replies, “I believe, help my unbelief.”
So what is amazing is that I’m acting on faith that I don’t have. What is amazing is that my faith is increased without a single doubt alleviated or a question answered. I still wrestle with God because I still doubt Him and I’m learning my wrestling is a sign of great faith. That is amazing because that is something only God can do.
So when you see someone doing something amazing, go ahead and tell them. They probably need to hear it but remember they didn’t do any miracles this morning and probably yelled at their spouse or their kid who didn’t deserve it or may have thought (maybe even shouted) a hateful thought at the SUV that cut them off on the way to work.
And then before you let yourself off the hook and go on with your day, ask yourself,
What have I got to lose?
What might I gain?
Chances are you might find some “amazing.” Chances are it won’t be what they did. Because God has enough “amazing” to go around for all the ways He has wired us.
Jessica is the dreamer and obsessive reader of the family. She always has five or six books going at a time. Right now this includes a lot of books on Sierra Leone and the Bible as she pursues a Biblical Studies degree. Jessica is the wife of Scott and is the mother to an active toddler named Zoe.