broken and okay, cave paintings of the soul, mountains that don't move, Uncategorized

I don’t know how you do it (and other stupid things we say)

when you want to be real
Maybe we could stop trying to fix things so quickly. Some things are unfixable. Some things stay broken. And advice has rarely changed any broken thing. I don’t want advice. I don’t want pity. I want someone to look me in the eye and say “this is hard, and I see you..”

A diagnosis, a death, a physical or mental illness. A crushing betrayal, an act of indifference. Something that didn’t go as planned. An iceberg that came out of nowhere and wrecked us. That moment our unsinkable ship sank. Whatever it is that happened to me, to you, you know what it is – that thing.

That thing that is always there. Like a phantom pain with an invisible scar. Or a gaping wound we keep under bandages because of some internal sense that tells us that no one wants to see that. Continue reading “I don’t know how you do it (and other stupid things we say)”

broken and okay, mountains that don't move

come sit with me in shadows (bearing witness to silent pain)

come sit with me in shadows

Come sit with me in shadows, I can’t bear the light today.

The light’s a mockery, a mirage, it moves each time I get close. I don’t want to chase the light today.  Today I’m sitting in the shadows, and I need someone who will come and sit with me.

I need someone who won’t try to fix this unfixable thing. Someone who won’t tell me how the light means everything happens for a reason. Sometimes there is no reason.

I don’t need to hear about the light right now. I know the light exists. We all know the light exists. But here in this moment I don’t think the light can reach me. I know the light can’t reach me. And I need you to be okay with that.

I need someone who can sit beside me and bear witness to my pain. Not tell me I shouldn’t feel it. Not try to tell me it will be okay. Not today. Today I need someone to sit with me in shadows,  it’s the only place that I can be.


{{This is the post I tried to write all year. Shadows come and go. In this moment the light can reach me. That doesn’t mean the shadows weren’t real or that I won’t sit in them again. But when you’re in the shadows it’s hard to write exactly how that feels.

So today I write for myself but also for anyone who sits in shadows. Friends whose hearts can’t be all merriness and light this Christmas. I write because I want you to know you’re not alone. I write because I hope a friend can come and sit with you today.}}

broken and okay, mountains that don't move

in defense of the imperfect story: finding hope at christmas

the perfect Christmas story

Growing up I loved to read the Christmas newsletters and cards my parents would receive. From all across the United States they would pour in, spinning their beautiful tales of promotions, graduations, and vacations. Magical moments captured in dream like perfection. And then social media came with Facebook and blogs to give us that same feeling year round, perfect lives captured in perfectly composed pictures. And then Pinterest. Pinterest is like those old Christmas newsletters played at high-speed while a disco ball throws light to every corner of our imagination. Everything is insanely, impossibly perfect. It’s a world in which recipes for dessert after dessert can live side by side with pictures of flat stomachs. Where rain boots are lined up by the door with no hints of melting snow or mud or rain beneath them. A world in which children’s rooms can have white bedding.

Even back in my childhood I knew when I read those Christmas newsletters that they weren’t the whole story. That theirs were a varnished truth. A slight retelling where Joseph wasn’t sold by his brothers into slavery but rather was seeking career advancements overseas. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think dreamy perfection is lovely sometimes. But it can get overwhelming, if we start to believe in it a little too much.

And so, it’s to this world I’d like to offer my defense, my defense of the imperfect story. The ones that start out not with a stride but with a stumble. The ones that have messy middles that don’t make sense. The ones that don’t come with a golden ribbon ending. At least not one we’ve seen yet.

Continue reading “in defense of the imperfect story: finding hope at christmas”

adoption related seriousness, mountains that don't move, waiting

the grace of twilight

a thousand years

This adoption process has me reduced to finding solace in “Twilight” quotes. Okay, it’s not quite that bad. It’s actually from a song written for one of the Twilight movies. I didn’t know that though when I first heard it. When I sat there and felt like someone had seen into my soul. Maudlin much? Picture me doing a Kristen Stewart type lip tremble here but with more facial expression.

I’m ashamed to admit this but way back when, shortly after we heard the first child we were matched with was dying, I wondered why our adoption journey had to be so hard. So painful and soul-rending. I wasn’t expecting a rose petal covered path but I was hoping that some almighty power would at least keep the thorny brambles cleared off of it.

But here’s the thing: if there was any fairness in this world my children would never have needed me in the first place. And there is something quite horrific about the arrogance of believing that God would make this easy on me when it wasn’t easy for my children’s other parents. Or for my children. He could easily keep every child from becoming parentless. He could stop death, war, and everything else that leaves babies vulnerable and alone. But He doesn’t.

So who am I to think that I would be spared pain and setbacks? Where was that part of the deal?

Comparison is an ugly thing. Always. Unless you’re comparing yourself to characters from trashy reality television. In which case comparison is one of the cheapest forms of therapy because compared to most of them my life totally and utterly rocks and I am a completely normal and sane person. But that aside, comparison in the adoption world can make you crazy. Because there’s always someone who gets a form faster than you. Who accepted a referral after you and got their baby home before you. Who seems to be getting the easy path.

And there’s a temptation to believe that it all means something. That it somehow has something to do with your worthiness and specialness and iamsogreatness. Or your unworthiness.

For the record I don’t think it does. I don’t think mountains that move are indications of an Almighty Power saying that I deserve something and the ones that don’t move aren’t indicating the opposite either. Because if I did, if I did believe that then what does that say about my belief towards my children’s other parents? Where was the mountain-moving when they needed it?

Theologians have been debating what is God’s will and what is man’s choice since the dawn of time. They’ll probably be debating it in the afterlife. Maybe there will be a whole section of heaven set up for it. It will be like the internet in physical (metaphysical?) form for all eternity. And some days I get caught up in that. I wonder why some are given so much and some are given so little, and the injustice of it all makes me want to resign from the human race and volunteer for a deep space mission to Mars. With apes.

But on the rest of the days I resign myself to the not knowing and I come back to this belief that I carry in my soul: Each of us were put on this earth for a reason, we were each entrusted with love and grace that is ours to hoard or to give away. And that’s all I’m doing, it’s all I know how to do. I’m just holding out the love I have and saying  – here, I have some extra – who can use it? Knowing that others have given me love and grace when I was the one needing it. And somehow I have to believe that all that love and grace melts together and oozes something beautiful. Not something that makes up for the ugliness of a broken word, but something beautiful none the less.

So yeah, I’m quoting Twilight today. Or it’s theme song. Or whatever. And thinking deep theological thoughts that can’t all be shared. And somewhere deep inside I’m holding thoughts of a little boy who I desperately wish will be in my arms sooner or later. Who I hope beyond words grows up in a family. Who I’ll love until the day I die. Who might someday read these words and curl up in a teenage ball of embarrassment. Sorry kiddo. Maybe use it as emotional blackmail to get me to buy you that new phone or laptop you’ve been bugging us for. Or, you know, a hovercar.

adoption related seriousness, broken and okay, mountains that don't move, waiting

when the mountains don’t move

So what does it mean when your mountains don’t move?  When you pray the “prayer of faith” but there is no splash at the end to indicate that God was listening?

What does it mean when those same prayers from other lips get answered?  When their “miracle” request is granted and yours gets filed in the trash bin of heaven?

I find myself tempted to believe I didn’t do something right, didn’t pray the right words, didn’t have the right heart.  As if God is a temperamental vending machine and I didn’t hit the right button with the appropriate force.  I find myself wallowing in believing that if I was somehow good enough then my prayers would be answered, my life would be made lovely and easy.  As if those whose lives are a daily struggle for survival somehow did something to deserve their condition.

So maybe it’s good my mountains didn’t move, my personal “miracles” wasn’t granted. Maybe if they had I would believe in the own specialness of my American self.  Maybe I would somehow think that the privileges that come from being born in a wealthy country where opportunities abound somehow said something about my goodness as a person, my deservedness as a human.

Maybe if my mountains had moved I wouldn’t think every day about those around the world whose mountains are so much bigger than mine.  Whose unanswered prayers cost them so much more than mine ever will.  While I pray for paperwork to come in quickly so my son can come home to me others are praying to not die in childbirth and leave their child motherless.  While I cry over months apart from these children I love, others are crying for the food to keep their children alive.  While I wonder why my life has to be tainted by chronic illness others watch their loved ones die from preventable diseases, all because they lack the money for treatment.

Maybe if my mountains had moved I wouldn’t feel compelled to give to others, to do what I can to help their own mountains move, maybe I would have been content to sit and stare at the gap in the horizon and be pleased with my own personal faith and my own personal happiness.  Maybe I would have believed in my own specialness at the cost of forgetting others.

My mountain didn’t move.  But my heart has.