Saturday, December 20, 2014

Incomplete Family at Christmastime

Christmas is not necessarily a happy time for all of us.  I am not saying the whole season is terrible for me.  I definitely enjoy the majority of it!  But as we go through this waiting-to-adopt time, and as God grows a sensitivity in me toward others and their individual situations, I am starting to see that there is pain involved in holidays, too.

As I go Christmas shopping and to all the gatherings and parties, and just in general interact with more people than I usually do, this year I am going to try to be more sensitive with my "Merry Christmas!"es.  I would encourage you to do the same; think and pray carefully before writing the same greeting in each Christmas card.

I also think there is some validity in what I heard somewhere recently:  it's more painful to have your painful situation ignored than acknowledged.  So maybe instead of writing "May you and your family have a happy Christmas!", write "This Christmas must be tough for you.  You're in my thoughts & prayers."  (I haven't lost any loved ones very close to me, so if you have other thoughts on this topic, please feel free to leave a comment.)

There are such a wide variety of painful or confusing situations that people may be going through this Christmas, including but not limited to:  (Please forgive me if in anyway I have not worded these sensitively.)
  • having lost a loved one, including miscarriage or stillbirth
  • divorce, separation, marriage difficulties
  • infertility
  • loved one working/living far away and can't come home for Christmas
  • empty arms while waiting to adopt
  • loved one hospitalized, or you yourself hospitalized
  • single
  • you or loved one has cancer or other disease
  • family tensions and unforgiveness
  • financial problems
  • spiritual struggles; trying to figure out what you believe
  • trying to find your birth family or have recently reconnected with them  
  • job issues
As my mother-in-law once told me, you never know what someone's going through.  That is so true.  Behind people's tough demeanor, or calm face, or cheery attitude, everybody has a story.  We don't necessarily need to know what that story is, but I think everyone does deserve our sensitivity.  Especially during the holidays when emotions can be so fragile.

It's been interesting this Christmas season for me as this topic has been on my mind and heart.  The other day I was in a grocery store and I saw a lady busily shopping whose husband had passed away a year or two ago.  Another lady who knew her and her situation came up to her, put a hand on her shoulder, and kindly said "Merry Christmas.  Have a good one."  The first lady turned to continue her shopping and I saw that her face now looked bewildered.  I was left wondering how she felt -- hurt that she was told to have a good Christmas even though her husband was gone?  -- or blessed that the lady didn't cheerfully smile a "Merry Christmas!!" as if everything was fine?  I don't know.  Maybe she didn't even know herself.

For me personally, I find that I appreciate acknowledgement of the pain we feel, in not being parents yet.  Don't get me wrong, no one wants to be felt sorry for!  But thought (like not giving us the card that says "from our family to yours!"), kindness, and acknowledgment is always nice.  Keep your words genuine, gentle - and brief.  No one wants to cry at a gathering after all, lol!

At the same grocery store, same day, we were stopped by a lady we know and asked how things were progressing with our adoption.  I always appreciate it when people ask because it shows they care.  But I was rather surprised at how down I felt afterward.  And it is because of the Christmas season.  It is another Christmas without our baby.  Christmas is a time of family.  And lots of people feel their families are incomplete -- they are still single, or a family member has passed away, or their womb is empty, or their arms are empty, or they are separated from their spouse, or they don't live near their family, or fights have separated them from their parents, or a parent has lost their memory, or they have placed their child for adoption, etc -- and at Christmastime this incomplete feeling is often very much amplified.

I don't have much of a conclusion.  Perhaps, I hope you come away from reading this with a new awareness of what others might be going through, and a new sensitivity towards others when you interact with them this holiday season.  I also hope you feel your personal pain has been acknowledged.  Christmas is tough.  And I honestly think that's okay sometimes.  Not that it's okay to feel sorry for yourself, but neither do you need to be tough and ignore the pain and put on a false cheeriness.  If someone is kind enough to say to you "This Christmas must be tough for you" there is nothing wrong with simply saying "Thank-you, yes it is.  I appreciate your thinking of me."

I also hope that whether we are the comforter or the one in pain, or most likely both, that we deliberately take the time to be thankful for -- to use a cliche -- the Reason for the season.  Have you ever stopped to think about it that Jesus' earthly father was not His birth father?  And that when Jesus was crucified, His Father rejected Him?  (He rejected Him because all our sin was on Him.  The wages of sin is death and Jesus paid for our sin so we would not have to.)  Jesus understands pain.

He is also our comforter.  When nobody else understands how I feel, He does.  And that is already a big comfort to me just by itself.  

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."  2 Corinthians 1:3-4    

Monday, December 15, 2014

Doubts and Truth

Every five weeks, for roughly a ten day stretch, I am an emotional, mental, and physical wreck.  Most women are, to a greater or lesser extent.  I fall into the "greater extent" category!  During this time, I doubt everything.  I doubt that my husband loves me.  I doubt that we will ever get matched, and assume that no expectant parents would ever like us.  I doubt that I am saved, or at the least I question what I believe.  I doubt that I will ever feel "normal" again, and assume that something is wrong with me.  Amongst many other things, during this time my brain is filled with fog, I do not like myself, everybody makes me irritable, and problems seem insurmountable.

Of course, once a certain "Aunt" shows up to visit, my whole world settles itself back on it's axis.  I regain my equilibrium and everything calms down again.  My husband loves me (he did all along).  Odds are we'll get matched one day, if it's God's will, and I'm content with that (usually).  I am saved (I was all along) and I know what I believe (usually).  I feel normal (my own unique version of normal, anyway!) and know that nothing was seriously wrong.  I realize I'm not ugly (whodda thunk?!), people are enjoyable (most of them), and I feel able to tackle problems (which were never that huge).

But time passes and I know that after a certain length of time I will once again be a trainwreck.  I have learned various ways of coping.  (No, medication is not one of them.  I have been down that long, dark road before and will never step foot onto it again.)  One is simply being aware of what day I am on so I can be prepared, knowing what to expect when.  Letting Hubby know where I'm at is helpful, too, so he can be prepared!  Another is fewer commitments during that time, and planning simpler meals - in advance.

But one of the things that has helped very much is facts.  Logic.  Thinking like a man, lol.  A man has a very hard time comprehending that, to a woman, what she is feeling feels like it IS factual!  That her feelings are incredibly REAL.  That these feelings do not seem "illogical" as many men like to state.  A wise man will comfort his wife when she is feeling all sorts of tumultuous feelings that are very real to her, without correcting her and telling her "that's not the way it really is".  A wise woman will accept his comfort, lol!  But as I was saying, I have found that when doubts assail me, telling myself facts is the way to go.

I like logic.  Facts.  Truth.  Solid things that don't change.  The more unsteady my life is, the more I like stability!  Christ's love for me doesn't change.  His salvation of me is secure - nothing I do or don't do will change that.  Usually I am not the hugest advocate for Scripture memorization because I have a very poor memory, but knowing some pertinent Bible verses that I can tell myself in times of doubt really does help.  And God's Word is solid truth that doesn't change!  Very reassuring when everything feels unsteady.

The other day I read Psalm chapter 3.  I read it along with John MacArthur's notes (he has very good notes as long as one ignores the Calvinism).  Here is the psalm, written by David when he fled, fearing for his life:

O Lord, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
many are saying of my soul,
there is no salvation for him in God.
But You, O Lord, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the Lord,
and He answered me from His holy hill.
I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around.
Arise, O Lord!
Save me, O my God!
For You strike all my enemies on the cheek;
You break the teeth of the wicked.
Salvation belongs to the Lord;
Your blessing be on Your people!   

For me, my enemies are my doubts.  During rough times, they are many, rising against me, and saying to my soul: "there is no salvation for you in God".  BUT God, praise His name, is a shield about me, protecting me, not allowing those doubts to be true.  I cry aloud to Him, and He answers me.  Usually doubts assail me the worst at night.  But here Scripture says I can lie down and sleep and wake again and do not need to be afraid because the Lord sustains me!  He saves me, fighting for me against my enemies - those wicked doubts.  Salvation belongs to God and He has blessed me!  Praise His holy name!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Motherhood Month - 13

Progress:  We have been waiting 1 year + 7 months since we were approved to adopt.

How I'm feeling:  Content and curious, waiting to see what God will do or not do.

Craving:  Cookies.  I have been doing a bunch of baking lately, and I went to a cookie exchange yesterday and came home with at least 4 dozen cookies, but I can't eat wheat and a bunch of other things, so I can't eat the majority of them.  I did make some Coconut Macaroons for myself but they are waiting in the freezer til Christmas :)

Thoughts about our future child:  Miss you.

Thoughts about our child's expectant mom:  Praying for you.

Most recent baby purchase/gift:  I may or may not have bought something for Hubby for Christmas :)

This month God:  Reassured me in a time of doubt.  Hopefully I'll take the time to write a post about that yet.

For other first-time prospective adoptive parents -- how long have you been waiting to adopt since being approved?  How much of your time do you find yourself thinking about/praying for/preparing for your future child?