Thursday, May 27, 2010

Choosing Hard Things

Hard things happen in life. Things nobody chooses. I was reminded of this this morning when I read Kari's friend Angie's blog. Angie and her husband said goodbye to their baby daughter when she was 4 days old when she died from Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. Her baby was born only a couple weeks after Gabby and they are still grieving. Angie is blogging her journey and her words are beautiful. She quoted a poem today that says "I didn't ask for the things I was given, I didn't choose this road I have taken. Walk a mile with me hand in hand, then perhaps you will understand."

It struck me that so many of life's hard things are things we don't choose. We are taught in our society to avoid pain and seek pleasure. But perseverance is developed through hard things. And people who are in the midst of grieving don't want to think about how they are changing and growing, but years later they will see their own depth of character because of the hard times. Angie is helping people already because of her grief and her strength and empathy will impact lives for the rest of hers and beyond.

One of the most amazing families in our church recently lost a daughter who lived with them for sixteen years after having surgery for a rare heart defect as an infant that caused severe complications. Though nonverbal she communicated so much love over those years and her family was forever changed. The funeral, which happened when I was out of town a couple months ago, was one of the most powerful things Bart said he had ever been a part of. And the family, the parents and their three other daughters, were the ones doing the ministry. They would never have chosen the road they were given, but the road has made them who they are has allowed them to touch so many lives.

It may look as though Bart and I chose the road we were on. We chose to adopt older kids. Lots of them. But we had no idea how things were going to go. We were prepared well, but we just didn't think that training applied to us. The kids would be fine once they moved in, we assumed.

Today with the number of blogs that are out there and the number of horror stories about RAD and FASD, families are not heading into things so blindly. We are basically asking them to choose hard things. My job as a recruiter and trainer of pre-adoptive families is to show them how hard the road could be and then to encourage them to take it.

I had a rough few minutes this morning. I talked when I promised myself I would shut up. I was frustrated and angry. And then I read Angie's post. And I was touched by the depth of her character at such a young age. And I was reminded of the person I have become and the people I have helped through my journey so far and all of the things I have to be grateful for.

We have no idea how much we can handle as individuals. But we see people around us who handle what life throws at them with such grace and it makes me wonder, with God's help, how much any human is capable of.

I didn't choose today's challenges or today's pain even though i chose to adopt. But we did do what we believed God asked of us and I must remind myself of that today. My annoyances and pain are nothing compared to many of the people around me who are suffering much bigger things and it's time for me to be grateful and move on.

The book of Romans teaches us that hardship produces perseverance, perseverance produces character and character produces hope, and that hope does not disappoint us. It's a progression that anyone who experiences hardship must go through. But welcoming hardship? Who wants to do that?

When I recruit families I think not about the family but about the child. I know children need homes and so I think about what is best for them as I know that the family will endure hardship. But I am also aware that there are benefits for those of us who do choose this road -- and one of the benefits is the hardship itself. Suffering, as one version states, is what begins the journey that leads to hope.

So this morning I'm going to allow my minor annoyances to lead me down that road. The road that ultimately leads in hope.

At the risk of sounding trite, I can't come up with a better conclusion that these words from Robert Frost:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


Little Wonder said...

And that hope about which you speak is not just an empty, my life will get better is a knowledge, a yearning for the day when we no longer have to endure these hardships, but can be wrapped in the safe and loving arms of the Savior....

Your story of the child with the heart-defect makes me thankful for the life I have-heart-defect and all.

Rose Adoption Journey said...

REad the words to Amy Grants Somewhere Down the Road on my blog(the last one before the current one)I Love the Quote in your first paragraph.