Click HERE for details and to Register for HOPE AT HOME 2012 Conference for Adoptive and Foster Parents!From Susan Hillis:
|Susan and Brian in the early days |
of their adoption journey
I was desperate. Fifteen years ago I was desperate to find someone who had walked through years of parenting children who were deeply scarred by their painful past. I'm talking about children who have been seriously abused in some of the worst imaginable ways. I wanted to find several experienced believing parents who could speak to what helped them as parents to walk their children forward into healing and wholeness, after the adoption was final. Isn't it ironic that we describe our adoptions as 'final' when in fact they are only beginning? I certainly felt like a beginner, navigating relatively unchartered territory without help from others who had learned invaluable lessons from years of real experience with real children in real families. So, now, with our ten kids ages 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 23, 25, 26, and 27 years old, I finally have a little time to think about how I may be able to share with you, dear reader, what I was desperate for those many years ago. I would love to hear back whether any of you find you connect with these ideas!!!!!
Are You Crazy?
So my first lesson is this: don't be crazy. In other words, don't depend on your own efforts to become an expert in painful pasts and positive parenting to bring healing and wholeness. Oh, instincts and positive parenting are good, but they are secondary, not primary. What is primary is receiving from the Lord's life in and with and through us, what we need daily, that daily bread, to love the children with whom we are entrusted. As we read in the Message translation,
"Something crazy has happened...Let me put this question to you: How did your new life [as an adoptive family] begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was in by responding to God's Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren't smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it?....Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, His Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you?...anyone who tries to live by his own effort, independent of God, is doomed to failure [aside: I have tried this and it doesn't work!]...The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you." (Gal 3:1-6).
In other words, it's not my job to fix them; it is simply my job to trust in the Lord's love and wisdom and revelation in and through me and Brian, and many others in our church and school communities, to give our children what God intends to give them through us. This is unspeakably freeing, as I do not take responsibilities of heavy burdens on my shoulders that are not mine to carry. I stop being crazy. I stop thinking that I can learn how to lift a crushing load off of an injured heart single-handedly, by studying how it's done! Oh, I'm all for studying and learning, but my primary hope is not in my becoming proficient.
Primary and Secondary
What is primary, I have learned, is my own vital personal walk with the Lord. Out of that intimacy between the two of us, I receive the help and hope and acceptance and forgiveness and wisdom I need for His call on my life. It is as though He is often rechanneling my thinking (Rom 12:1), when I find myself discouraged and disappointed. Rather than dwelling on the afflictions, we can chose to dwell on the testimonies of what is good and true and worthy of praise (Phil 4:6-9). In this regard, I am so touched by Psalm 119 in the ESV -- there are 20 verses that describe "testimonies" and only 5 that describe "afflictions." [Because I love math I just have to point out that this is 4 to 1 odds!! and because I love the Scriptures I have to dare you to count for yourself and to meditate on these verses!]
From this I see that the testimonies, in our Lord, are intended to outnumber our afflictions.
I think of testimonies as fresh applications of eternal truths regarding the character of God in the life of the believer today. And we all know all too well that afflictions are serious and often seemingly insurmountable personal problems. Generally speaking, I have found over the years that when my walk with the Lord is primary, and my focus on learning all I can about excellent parenting is secondary, it is much more natural for me to love my children who are in hard places with freedom and hope, rather than to worry over them with fear and despair. When fear and despair are bigger in my experience, it is then that I call in my soul-tender friends to pray and help.
Hope at Home
I will close this post by passing along the news that
registration is now open for the Hope at Home 2012 Conference
which will take place the week end of my birthday (how cool is that!), October 5-6, at Northlands Church, Atlanta, GA. Click on the link for more information and to register. Check out our speakers and breakouts-- we are so excited about what God is putting together for us all!
If you find yourself connecting at all with what is written in this post, then that conference may be a place you can find the refreshment and encouragement to continue forward in great hope for the family in which the Lord has placed you as a leader, to parent them in His love and His strength and His wisdom and His revelation. I cannot begin to tell you the freedom I have found as I have let go of many burdens that were just crazy for me to be carrying!
May the Lord bless you and your family, and may you find today that your testimonies outnumber your afflictions!