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conversations, dark chocolate, & authenticity

This is a blog I wrote a long time ago, but never posted because I wasn’t sure how to finish it.  This morning, I think I figured it out. However,  I wanted to keep it in the same context, so just know that the “tonight” I refer to was actually almost a year ago before all of this adoption stuff resurfaced.  As I read over what I began to write so many months ago, I realized that this night was actually the planting of the mustard seed of courage I would need to walk through this adoption process yet again. Anyway, here goes:

Tonight I shared some precious moments with a dear friend.  Good wine, good food, and GREAT chocolate. We always share these moments, those nuggets of conversation that take a few weeks to digest fully even though you understand them as they are spoken. But tonight was set apart from the norm because after she left, I felt courage like I haven’t known in a very, very long time.  The central theme of tonight’s conversation centered around our titles for a little (and by little, I really mean REALLY HUGE) project she’s launching as I type this.  We decided that my official title will be, “Chief Conversationalist and Keeper of the Chocolate.”

I LOVE IT.

I love the idea that my role in all of this is to share moments with people, to invest in them, to share life, to talk. . .over some chocolate. . .dark of course (with maybe a hint of coffee and honey). I’m also willing to add a slice of cheesecake if necessary.

And then I got to thinking about my dad.

And I realized that a lot of what he does is exactly this.  He shares life with people.  He invests in them.  He gets in the trenches and lets people be real because he is real with them.  Sometimes it’s scary, sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s sad, sometimes it hurts, but all of the time it’s authentic because he is authentic. I strive for that kind of authenticity because to me authenticity is intrinsically related to integrity.  And it’s hard. It’s hard to be the same person all of the time, in all situations.  It’s hard to not hide behind a facade that everything’s OK when everything isn’t OK. I feel like it is especially hard for me as an introvert because my tendency is to close in on myself and keep things in my own mind.  But life isn’t in my head. Life is in relationship with others, and as far as I can tell, people aren’t mind readers.

Soon after my conversation with Kellie, I stumbled across a blog and read the line, “The rest is a blur, which lasted all of five minutes and most of eternity.”  Recently (and by recently I mean almost the entirety of the past three years) my life has felt like this.  Big news, almost daily.  Lots of changes. Even more uncertainty. I don’t even know where to start sorting out how to be authentic when life seems to be coming at me at a million miles an hour.

(here’s where I started writing again this morning)

As I’ve walked through this adoption again, I’ve had days (more than I care to acknowledge) where I feel inadequate, weary, and sometimes just plain tired of trying to keep trying. But at the same time, the more I’ve learned about myself and my faith through this process, the more I feel that I am learning to be authentic.  I’m learning to share what’s going on in my head and my heart with others (this blog is a big part of that learning for me).  And as I’m opening up and acknowledging my own humanity, I’m also learning to accept it.  To be content in my own skin. As I’m doing this I feel like I’m learning how to help others do the same.  And it brings me back to the verse I keep in my pocket from Matthew 5.


This passage reminds me that it is OK for me to feel empty somedays.  Yesterday was one of those days.  Today is too. Yesterday I was able to visit my son for 2 hours and then I had to leave the orphanage and say goodbye to him.  It was awful. He was crying because he wanted to go with me and didn’t understand why he couldn’t. I was crying because I did not have a choice. I had to leave my son. And then I have to get on an airplane in a few days and fly half way around the world and leave him here. It is the worst feeling in the world. I promised him that I would be back. And then spent the rest of the day yesterday weeping before the Lord and petitioning God for a miracle that He will place the missing paperwork in my folder for court on Monday so that I can keep my promise and return for my son.

I will not be allowed to see him again until the US Embassy allows me to come back to Ethiopia and bring him home.  It could be weeks or it could be months.  Right now it feels like an eternity.  But as this verse promises, when I am in this state God embraces me.  He fills me up. He opens my eyes to see the world through His eyes.  That’s the kind of authenticity I want. I want to see the others as Jesus sees them. I want to know God as Jesus does. I want to have the faith of a mustard seed that God will fulfill his promises in my life. I strive to believe that God can and will perform a miracle and bring this adoption to completion on Monday when I appear in court.  Again, I ask that you join me in this prayer of petition that the missing papers and letters will be in my file and that the judge will finalize my son’s adoption on Monday, May 30th, 2011.

 

If those who get what God gives them only get it by doing everything they are told to do and filling out all the right forms properly signed, that eliminates personal trust completely and turns the promise into an ironclad contract! That’s not a holy promise; that’s a business deal. A contract drawn up by a hard-nosed lawyer and with plenty of fine print only makes sure that you will never be able to collect. But if there is no contract in the first place, simply a promise–and God’s promise at that–you can’t break it. This is why the fulfillment of God’s promise depends entirely on trusting God and His way, and then simply embracing Him and what He does. God’s promise arrives as pure gift. Romans 4: 13-16

 

So here I sit. In a guest house in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia surrounded by strangers. 15 miles from a son I cannot visit and  half a world away from another one who I miss with my entire being.  Trusting God and His way.  Striving to simply embrace Him and what He is doing. Trying my best to be authentic with my faith.

 

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