Sometimes family vacation means just doing nothing, sitting on a balcony, smelling the sea air, and thinking. While Amy works on her blog post following our big announcement, I'll do one of my own. I'm going to start off with some brutal honesty. I oftentimes (too often)find myself wishing I had "better" stuff. I wish I had a nicer house, like many people I know. I wish I had a bigger, brighter, better TV and surround sound system in a custom Seahawk themed man cave. I wish I could travel to exotic locations, just because I felt like it. I wish my yard was more beautiful and manicured; I wish my house had more/better bathrooms. I wish I had a fancier computer. The list goes on and on, and I sometimes hold on to the notion that eventually I will have these things, because I work hard and I deserve them right?
That's when God gives me reminders. Sometimes they are subtle, like seeing a car broken down on the side of the road or seeing a homeless person. Sometimes it smacks me in the face, like when I'm whining, complaining, or coveting more/better "stuff," and I learn that a friend, family member, or loved one has experienced life changing news or illness. You see, my selfishness (I'm not judging anyone else here) comes naturally to me. I don't have to think about it... I'm just good at it. I can't visit a friends house without thinking, "I wish I had a nice place like this," or "I wish my TV was that big, bright, and thin." Dang you Costco for putting all those beautiful TVs in the very front of the store! See, I'm selfish... it's really easy, and I come by it naturally.
As you probably already know, my wife Amy and I have adopted 3 amazing girls, from China. If you are wondering "Why China," here is another post for you to read. Each time we adopted, there were signifiant fears and challenges that I faced. Gracie was just 10 months old when we were joined with her forever. This was our first child. I probably spent the first 3 months in a mild panic wondering when I would ever have free time for me ever again. This child took so much time and energy! It seemed impossible, but little by little, God used it to change me. But of course, He wasn't done yet.
Next came our decision to adopt Gemma Lu. Not only were we going the China route again, but we chose to venture into the "Special Needs" arena, because we felt led to do so. A brand new set of fears and doubts crept in. This little girl was 4. She had experienced an interrupted adoption, and we knew she would be very frightened. You can read more about this on another post as well. But once again, God faithfully used all of this to work on me, and I'm grateful every day.
Have I established the fact that I'm selfish? Nice family of 4, good enough for me. Both Amy and I had jobs, we were adjusting to a 2 kid household and routine, and were saving enough money for more/better "stuff!" That's what I'm talking about! But then my wife prayerfully, and lovingly dropped another bomb on my materialistic ways. She wanted to adopt AGAIN. Now, I'm all too familiar with the way couples discuss how many children to have, if any, as well as life's other milestone decisions. But come on man! Things were just starting to get "normal" again. I even posted about "Waiting for normal," and even though I know "normal" doesn't exist as we envision it, I thought we were getting darn close. This one was hard for me. But one thing kept echoing over and over in my mind, my soul, my heart. Step out in faith. I've always had no problem saying it to people and talking about how wonderful of a concept it is to trust the Almighty Creator to do all things, but wait... I'm supposed to live it? Hmmmm. That is a whole separate ballgame.
The transformation that overtook me, during that 3rd trip to China, to meet Gia Pearl, is still to this day indescribable. The way her sweet bravery (how's that for a juxtaposition?) inspired me, and the way she smiled, despite all she had been through and seen, cut straight to my heart. I witnessed a collision of joy and sadness that I will never ever forget, and still hear the sobs of a goodbye during a train ride, like they were yesterday. Guess what, God was changing me. My heart was becoming soft and vulnerable. But still... I waited for normal.
Even though I knew it would probably happen, I still chose not to be burdened daily about adding to our family of 5. Remember the selfish thing? I'm good at it, remember? I'm the Jedi Master of selfishness. So when my wife approached me again, maybe this time, even if I reacted as such, I was not as shocked or opposed, but it was still a diversion from my quest for MBS (more/better stuff). But even as open as my heart was, my logical brain was putting up a good fight. I came up with all the reasons we shouldn't and couldn't adopt again... we can't afford it, our house isn't big enough, our car isn't big enough, we can't accommodate more special needs, I'm selfish, I have a hard enough time being a dad of 3 girls... the list is endless. But God bless my wife for reminding me of all the reasons we CAN do this, rooted firmly in the grace of a loving God. I believe He is able, and he will make a way for this to happen, but it is still a very challenging and difficult decision. But as we walked the streets of a tiny Oregon Coast town this afternoon, and I watched my girls giddily eat ice cream cones, I thought, doesn't every child deserve this?
So here we are again, standing at the beginning of another life changing journey. I still don't know exactly what to think about it, except that even though I'm terrified, I'm confident. Even though I'm selfish, I know I can be more selfless. Even though it seems impossible, we can do it because we have experience, and an awesome God. I've read some amazing testimonies and stories, like this blog post, and they have inspired me already. My selfishness is going to have to wait... and that is not such a bad thing.