Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Worth

This morning I was touched by the following passage from Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey's Fearfully and Wonderfully Made. They describe how understanding the significance of each individual cell in the human body can help us to appreciate every person's worth in the Body of Christ:

“In our rating-conscious society that ranks everything from baseball teams to 'the best chili in New York,' an attitude of relative worth can easily seep into the church of Christ. But the design of the group of people who follow Jesus should not resemble a military machine or a corporate structure. The church Jesus founded is more like a family in which the son retarded from birth has as much worth as his brother the Rhodes scholar. It is like the body, composed of cells most striking in their diversity but most effective in their mutuality.

God requires only one thing of 'cells': that each person be loyal to the Head. If each cell accepts the needs of the whole Body as the purpose of its life, then the Body will live in health. It is a brilliant stroke, the only pure egalitarianism I observe in all of society. God has endowed every person in the Body with the same capacity to respond. In Christ's Body a teacher of three-year olds has the same value as a bishop, and that teacher's work may be just as significant. A widow's dollar can equal a millionaire's annuity. Shyness, beauty, eloquence, race, sophistication—none of these matter, only loyalty to the Head, and through the Head to each other.”

This morning I also read an inspiring online article from CNN about a boy from Brownsville, Brooklyn who said that the most influential person in his life was his principal, Ms. Lopez:

In an interview with "Humans of New York" creator Brandon Stanton, this student explained how Ms. Lopez had influenced him:

"When we get in trouble, she doesn't suspend us. She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us. And she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built. And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter." 


His principal Nadia Lopez commented:

"This is a neighborhood that doesn't necessarily expect much from our children, so at Mott Hall Bridges Academy we set our expectations very high. We don't call the children 'students,' we call them 'scholars.' Our color is purple. Our scholars wear purple and so do our staff...
because purple is the color of royalty. I want my scholars to know that even if they live in a housing project, they are part of a royal lineage going back to great African kings and queens. They belong to a group of individuals who invented astronomy and math. And they belong to a group of individuals who have endured so much history and still overcome. When you tell people you're from Brownsville, their face cringes up. But there are children here that need to know that they are expected to succeed."

I love the worth communicated in this article: that Ms. Lopez had every student in her school stand up so that she could tell each one of them that they matter. I love that the students and the staff of her school wear purple to remind them of their royal lineage, that they come from an exceptional people of great endurance who learned to overcome, and to let these students (who come from a neighborhood that has very low expectations of them) know that they are expected to succeed.

Because every life matters, doesn't it? From those considered smallest in the eyes of the world to those called the greatest, we are all the same in God's eyes. Every one has worth and value.

What do you believe about your own and others' worth and how do you communicate those beliefs through your attitudes and actions?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Soccer, Garlic, and Acupuncture

Yesterday afternoon we played soccer in a nearby hospital parking lot. We have found that it's the best open space available, and it usually works pretty well except when our bouncy ball rolls under a bus or an ambulance and we have to put the game on pause to maneuver it out.

 
We played a fairly intense game, and I was reminded once again that coordination is not my strength. I can picture in my mind exactly how I want to control the ball skillfully past my opponents, with a perfectly placed pass to one of my teammates or a quick shot right into the goal. But unfortunately my feet are not nearly as speedy or as coordinated as I wish they were. Despite my best attempts, my opponents (Charly, Jordan, and David) seemed to keep getting the ball away from me, intercepting my passes, and blocking the goals I tried to score.

As you might imagine, my teammate Joshua could handle the ball much better than me (and even Daniel ended up scoring a goal when the ball accidentally bounced off his chest), so our team won the game. And our only injury was when Joshua's chest got slammed into the rear view mirror of a bus when he and Charly were both aggressively trying to take possession of the ball. I said if anyone needed stitches we couldn't be in a better place than right there at the hospital. But fortunately there was no blood.


After the game, we walked to one of our favorite spots for dinner. While we were waiting for our food to arrive, Daniel asked if he could eat the garlic that was there on the table. He peeled a large clove by himself and put the whole thing in his mouth. All eyes were on him as he chewed. At first he casually shrugged his shoulders and told us “I'm not crying.” But as he continued to chew, his already flushed cheeks turned an even darker shade of red. His eyes widened and filled to the brim. He grabbed his water bottle and took huge gulps. We couldn't help but laugh at his reaction. When he finally set the water bottle down on the table, he let out a dramatic “Whew!” and managed to laugh a little bit with us.

 
Last month Joshua made his debut on Chinese TV. It was a documentary on an area called Ping liang in Gansu province, and as a Western explorer who got sick, he was taken to a local hospital for an acupuncture treatment. This is the link if you want to watch a one minute clip. 


They had to re-shoot this scene multiple times because Joshua's face didn't have a painful enough expression when the needles were going in. (I think he must get his high tolerance for pain from his grandfather.)

How do we react to the things that happen to us?

My feet don't react in the coordinated way I want them to when I'm playing soccer.
Daniel tries to be tough, but reacts strongly to eating garlic.
Joshua has to “fake it” in order to show a reaction to pain that doesn't feel like much to him.

How does God react to us?

He says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3)

The Creator of the universe is both bigger than our finite minds can comprehend and available/eager to listen to each one of His precious created ones. Awesomely huge. And at the same time approachable. His desire is for us to know Him, to love Him, and to follow Him with our whole hearts. He even wants to share His own heart with us. Isn't that amazing? To tell us great and unsearchable things we do not know.

How do we react to God's invitation to call out to Him?

How do we respond to His answer?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Suffering

Just as we can choose to look at every Intrusion that enters our lives as an invitation from Jesus to welcome it in the way that He would, so also we can look for His invitations that come to us in the form of suffering. And we can choose to trust Him in the dark and in the unanswered hard places of our lives.

I wrote Chronic Pain three years ago about a difficult stretch of migraine pain I was going through. This is the picture out our kitchen window at that time. After a landslide the makeshift houses on the hill had to be torn down. And I thought about the rubble and the workers trying to save the bricks.


I wrote: “As I sort through the rubble in my life, I too want to seek and to set aside the bricks of truth with which to rebuild. I want to be open to what God wants to continue to teach me about those many “wasted” days of pain, and the feelings of helplessness, uselessness, and discouragement that I was fighting in addition to the physical pain.”

Suffering changes our perspective. Helps us to focus on what's really important. It's not how much we can accomplish in a day, or how we can reach those high and lofty goals that really matters, is it?

In The Hardest Peace, Kara Tippetts writes: “I can say that cancer and suffering give the beautiful gift of perspective. It is the gift you never wanted, the gift wrapped in confusion and brokenness and heartbreak. It's the gift that strips all your other ideas of living from you completely. The beautiful, ugly raising to the surface the importance of each and every moment.”

Kara shares this quote from Nancy Guthrie's Holding on to Hope: “Trusting God when the miracle does not come, when the urgent prayer gets no answer, when there is only darkness—this is the kind of faith God values perhaps most of all. This is the kind of faith that can be developed and displayed only in the midst of difficult circumstances. This is the kind of faith that cannot be shaken because it it the result of having been shaken.”

Philip Yancey shares about the advantages of suffering in his book Where is God When it Hurts? He writes, “I came across a thought-provoking list of “advantages” to being poor proposed by a Catholic nun named Monica Hellurg. I have adapted her list, broadening it to include all who suffer.
  1. Suffering, the great equalizer, brings us to a point where we may realize our urgent need for redemption.
  2. Those who suffer know not only their dependence on God and on healthy people but also their interdependence with one another.
  3. Those who suffer rest their security not on things, which often cannot be enjoyed and may soon be taken away, but rather on people.
  4. Those who suffer have no exaggerated sense of their own importance, and no exaggerated need of privacy. Suffering humbles the proud.
  5. Those who suffer expect little from competition and much from cooperation.
  6. Suffering helps us distinguish between necessities and luxuries.
  7. Suffering teaches us patience, often a kind of dogged patience born of acknowledged dependence.
  8. Suffering teaches the difference between valid fears and exaggerated fears.
  9. To suffering people, the gospel sounds like good news and not like a threat or a scolding. It offers hope and comfort.
  10. Those who suffer can respond to the call of the gospel with a certain abandonment and uncomplicated totality because they have so little to lose and are ready for anything.”
How has suffering affected your faith?

How has it changed your perspective on life?

What kind of invitation is Jesus extending to you right now?

May God bless you in unexpected ways as you walk in step with Him in the coming days.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Intrusion

One of my favorite scenes in the first Hobbit movie is when all the dwarfs start invading Bilbo's house. He has just begun his nice quiet dinner alone. He has no idea who they or why they are in his home. Then these loud and obnoxious strangers start eating all of his food, making a mess of everything, and creating chaos of the worst kind. I can so relate to Bilbo's reaction to this very uninvited Intrusion.

Just who do you think you are? I really want some peace and quiet here. What have you done to all of my food and to my house that was in such perfect order? I'm trying to keep my cool and be polite, so would you kindly get out? Now.


But they don't leave, and Gandalf gives Bilbo an invitation to join them on their adventure as their burglar. Bilbo awakens from what seemed like a nightmare, and with a sigh of relief finds his house empty. But then he has a change of heart. Decides he doesn't want to miss out, hurriedly signs the contract, runs after the group and joins their adventure. His life is never the same after the Intrusion.

In The Utter Relief of Holiness, John Eldredge describes both the typical human reaction and Jesus' reaction to Intrusion: “This is at the core of human nature, this thing in us that growls, Do not mess with my program. Do not get in my way. If you aren't aware how deep this runs in you, how do you feel when people cut in the line at the market or the movies, cut you off on the highway, make it difficult for you to get your job done, or make it impossible for you to get some sleep? What angers us is almost always some version of You are making my life even harder than it already is. Get out of the way.

Not Jesus. He welcomes intrusion.

...I think if anyone of us could have known Jesus personally, in that day, we would have loved his company—his ability to navigate difficult situations, to deal with people who didn't know how to deal with him, engage the opposite sex, take on religious leaders with the right spirit and attitude. It's just astounding. One more thing—Jesus isn't gutting it through life. There is no sense of him gritting his teeth, biting his tongue, none of that internal anguish most of us require to pull this off for a day or two. He is walking through it all with such grace and strength. He is living life as it was meant to be lived.

That's the utter relief of holiness. And oh, how utterly attractive it is.”

I want to live this way--with Jesus' grace and strength, “living life as it was meant to be lived.” Not gritting my teeth and churning on the inside when things don't go my way.

After rebuking the Pharisees for being clean-on-the-outside-dirty-on-the-inside cups, Jesus said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” (Matthew 23:37)

I can hear Jesus saying words like that to me. Can you? I can be easily irritated and focused on the wrong priorities and miss His whisper, How I long for you to be gathered close to me. To sit at my feet and listen with your whole heart, like Mary did. Would you quiet your cluttered heart and leave all of those burdens and worries at the foot of the cross? Being close to me is all that's really important.

In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15)

Get out of my way, you're making my life harder.

OR I want to hear your voice and to join you in the adventure you're calling me to, Jesus, no matter what Intrusions you allow to come. I want to welcome inconveniences the way that you did. And like Bilbo, to choose not to miss out on joining the adventure of a lifetime. Help me to be willing, Lord, not resistant to your will for my life.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Clean Windows

I cleaned our kitchen windows today. You might remember how hard it was to see out of them in Seeing Past Suffering. I love clean windows, especially when the sun is shining. Now I can see clearly to our trash hill out back. The dirt and smudges and bird poop stains are mostly gone. 

 
Today I thought about how we have to clean both sides of the glass in order to tell which side the dirt is on. Several times as I was scrubbing the outside--hoping I wasn't leaning out the window too far and about to free fall 9 floors down--I found that the dirt was refusing to come off. This is on the inside? And sure enough it was, and I had missed it the first time around. Multiple scrubbings, scrutinizing my work, and all the while feeling convicted about the work that God needs to do inside of me.

Those teachings of Jesus on kindness, forgiveness, patience. Those are for me, Lord?

This morning I had a bad attitude as I walked Daniel to school. I felt irritated with him for his slowness among other things, and I told him so. And then we entered his kindergarten and my countenance changed. I had a cheery smile for the teachers and a “早上好!” to greet them good morning. As I walked home I thought about the word hypocrite and how much I felt like one.

Jesus told the Pharisees that the outsides of their cups were nice and clean but the insides were filthy. Gulp. That's me. This dirt that won't come off is on the inside?

First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” (Matthew 23:26)

A few years ago in What Ruffles Your Soul? I mentioned being convicted by Jordan when she said, “If you're going to make us change our bad attitudes, you need to change yours too.” Ouch. Sometimes God uses our children to reveal an ugliness within us that we hope others won't notice.

But it's not about trying harder to be good. Or scrubbing the inside with everything we've got. That just wears us out.

I like the way John Eldredge explains the way we can “become good” in The Utter Relief of Holiness: “There is a way to be good again. The hope of Christianity is that we get to live life like Jesus. That beautiful goodness can be ours. He can heal what has gone wrong deep inside each of us. The way he does this is to give us his goodness, impart it to us, almost like a blood transfusion or mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. We get to live his life—that is, live each day by the power of his life within us...He makes us whole by making us holy. He makes us holy by making us whole.”

Yes, I like my clean windows. Because I like to see clearly. And today, cleaning my windows helped me to look at my heart more clearly. And to repent of my impatience, unkind words, and unforgiveness. Jesus, I open my heart for you to live your holy life in me.

I like the way it's described in the Message. He will give us a “glorious inner strength” and “Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in.” (Ephesians 3:16-17 MSG)

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)

What are you repenting of these days?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Why I Write

Two Sundays ago, Charly asked us to think about the times when we feel distant from God and what helps us to feel close to Him again. I said that when I have constant headaches it's easy for me to feel that life is dark, for insignificant things to seem bigger than they really are, to feel like I've fallen into a hole that I can't get out of. What helps me is to read other people's stories who have gone through suffering and have clung tightly to God, to know how God has blessed them in the midst of their pain, and so to have hope that this same God is “on my side” too and working out His eternal and good purposes on those dark days, when it can be so hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

That is why I love to read, and it's what motivates me to write. Maybe God could use me to help other hurting/questioning/doubting people to turn to God on their dark days.


If in your darkest hour...you know you must write...then spend your life in devotion to that art.” Steve Reifenberg, one of CJ's professors and mentors at Notre Dame, shared this quote from German poet Rainer Maria Rilke in his book Santiago's Children.

Henri Nouwen quoted Carl Rogers in The Wounded Healer: “I have found that the very feeling which has seemed to me most private, most personal and hence most incomprehensible by others, has turned out to be an expression for which there is a resonance in many other people. It has led me to believe that what is most personal and unique in each one of us is probably the very element which would, if it were shared or expressed, speak most deeply to others.”

In her book Breaking Free, Beth Moore quoted Mrs. Charles E. Cowman from her devotional Streams in the Desert:

“Life is a steep climb, and it does the heart good
to have somebody “call back” and cheerily beckon us on up the high hill.
We are all climbers together, and we must help one another.
The mountain climbing is serious business, but glorious.
It takes strength and steady step to find the summits.
The outlook widens with the altitude.
If anyone among us has found anything worthwhile, we ought to “call back.”
If you have gone a little way ahead of me, call back--
'Twill cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track;
And if, perchance Faith's light is dim, because the oil is low,
Your call will guide my lagging course as wearily I go.
Call back, and tell me that He went with you into the storm;
Call back and say He kept you when the forest's roots were torn;
That, when the heavens thunder and the earthquake shook the hill.
He bore you up and held you where the air was very still.
Oh, friend, call back and tell me for I cannot see your face;
They say it glows with triumph, and your feet bound in the race;
But there are mists between us and my spirit eyes are dim,
And I cannot see the glory, though I long for word of Him.
But if you say He heard you when your prayer was but a cry,
And if you'll say He saw you through the night's sin-darkened sky—
If you have gone a little way ahead, oh, friend, call back--
'Twill cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track.”

I recently read Kara Tippett's The Hardest Peace, and encourage you to download her book on kindle if you haven't read it already (now just $2.99). She beautifully shares her inspirational story of walking courageously through cancer. You can follow her on her blog as well.

She writes: “I enter the scary and hard looking for grace, expecting grace, with face lifted, walking in love unimaginable.”

“I was able to turn over the authorship of my story to the One who knew how to best write my life. I could trust again, knowing the story wasn't promised to be easy, but I was no longer silent in it. I was a beautifully redeemed daughter of the King. I would walk in grace...The grace of Jesus allows us to look honestly at out lives, not lock our stories into a place of shame. When I open wide my hands to the truth of my life and allow grace and forgiveness to seep into the pain of my story, I can lift my face, walk in grace and forgiveness, and not dwell on the bitter moments that hurt so desperately. It never discounts the pain. But the redemption of my hard yesterdays gives me a softened heart to walk in my tomorrows.”

“If the hardest is asked of us, we believe the grace will be there.”

Kara's courage in her fierce battle with ongoing cancer has helped to renew my courage to keep pressing on, to make the most of the moments that God has given me, to not be consumed by the darkness, but to keep looking for the light. It is always there; sometimes it is just harder to see.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also though Christ our comfort overflows.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

Let us climb the stony track of the mountain path, holding hands with suffering and with each other. May God's comfort--through Jesus--overflow out of our lives so that we can help, comfort, encourage, and support one another on our individual journeys through trials and pain.

Who has “called back” to you and helped to strengthen your steps when“Faith's light was dim” and your “oil was low”?

When you feel distant from God, what helps you to experience His nearness again?




Monday, January 19, 2015

What is it About Jesus?

Yesterday was our last day of CJ's two week visit, and our family watched the scene from the first Hobbit movie--when Balin the Dwarf explains to the rest of the dwarfs and to Bilbo why he can call Thorin “king” and why he has chosen to follow him.

Then Charly challenged each of us with the question: “What is it about Jesus that makes us most want to follow Him? To give Him our allegiance and call Him our King?”

This is the conversation that followed:

Jesus is holy and perfect. Like no other person who ever walked the earth.”

Like Aslan, who was perfect and didn't deserve to die. But He chose to die in Edmund's place.”

And He didn't stay dead. God raised Him back to life.”

Because He is perfect, we know that His plan for us is a good one and not one to harm us.”

His love was perfect. When someone called out to Him, He always turned His full attention on that person and gave him His full, perfect love.”

He also faced temptation perfectly. When He came to earth, he faced temptation for the first time because there was no temptation in heaven, and He did that perfectly.”

Jesus always speaks the Truth.”

He leads us to have a good relationship with God, out of the darkness and into the light.”

Like in the story The Tale of Two Princes, Jesus defeated the enemy so we could be free.”

We often pray that we would do what pleases God. Jesus was the only one who did that perfectly.”

This makes me think of the scene in Remember the Titans, when the coach asks, 'Who's your Daddy?' Because we should listen to and obey what our Daddy says.”

He forgave those who said He should save Himself as He hung on the cross. He chose to stay on the cross and to love those who put Him there. He took our sins on Himself so that we could be saved and reconciled to God.”

Jesus always did what He said He was going to do. His words and actions were consistent. And He spoke and acted with authority.”

God gave Jesus the authority to heal and to forgive sins.”

Jesus gave us His example of washing the disciples' feet.”

Jesus' perfection makes us more aware of our sin and our need for Him.”


We'd love for you to join in our conversation!




Wednesday, January 7, 2015

What We're Celebrating

CJ spent Christmas with our families in Missouri and then flew here to Lanzhou on Monday. We're celebrating the gift of our family being under one roof for these two weeks.

 
Yesterday David finished his final exams and we celebrated the completion of his first semester of Chinese school.

 
When he came home, he surprised us with “a student of progress” certificate that he'd received along with two other classmates. And although this semester has definitely had its share of bumps and challenges, we are proud of how hard David has worked and how much he has learned these past few months at school.

 
When Daniel and I walked to his kindergarten Monday morning, we crossed the road with two kids from his class. At one point Daniel was in the middle of the two of them, holding both of their hands. Then they started skipping/hopping down the sidewalk happily together. I loved seeing him enjoy life with his new friends.

 
I attended a parent meeting for his class later that day and was able to talk more with his teacher. I felt really thankful for the good communication that I have had with her, and grateful that she is patiently committed to helping him as best as she can. A definite area of progress is that he isn't telling her he has to go to the bathroom every ten minutes like he was a few weeks ago, but is able to (most of the time) wait for bathroom breaks with the rest of his class. She said that has really helped minimize class disruptions.

We celebrated Joshua's first college acceptance last month—to Notre Dame, and cheered him on as he submitted the last of his college applications just before midnight on New Year's Eve. He has been excited the past few days to get requests for interviews from two different schools. And it has been fun to dream with him about his future and all of the opportunities that are out there. Now that CJ is here joining in our discussions, he is heavily recruiting Joshua (and Jordan) to come to Notre Dame because he has had such a great experience there.

Yesterday Charly came across a service program that Notre Dame has set up in India, that we all thought sounded perfect for Jordan. Two years ago Jordan got so tired of what she felt were way too many family discussions about CJ's college options that she questioned if she even wanted to go to college. But this year she has become increasingly interested in exploring college possibilities for herself and is thinking about a future career in teaching, medicine, or therapy.


I love hearing our three older kids engaged in deep discussions, interspersed with outbursts of laughter. I love that when one of them has needed to go out on an errand, all three of them have been choosing to go out together. I love the way that they have grown in valuing their relationships with each other. And I love seeing them be such good big brothers and big sister to David and Daniel.

Last year Charly and I celebrated our 20th anniversary. And 2015 is our 20th year as a family living in China. We have big things to celebrate, and little things too. This morning, as David was getting ready to take a shower I told him his favorite pants were hanging on the clothes line because I knew he would want to wear those. As he danced across the room to get his pants, he sang out, “Mommy really knows me!” That little comment gives me another reason to celebrate: the recent  progress in our relationship.

What are you celebrating these days?

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Lost and Found

David and Daniel have been intrigued by The Jungle Book, just as they have been with The Saggy Baggy Elephant and The Ugly Duckling. The story-line of someone growing up misplaced and trying to figure out who he is and where he belongs has really connected with both of them. These have been more than just stories for them, like they were for our three older children, but more like different versions of their own stories of being lost and found.

We gave David The Jungle Book DVD in Chinese for his 10th birthday last month. As we watched the scene of Bagheera the panther discovering baby Mowgli and bringing him to be raised by a wolf family, my stomach tightened and my eyes filled with tears. 


It felt completely different than watching the story of baby Moses, who was also left alone in a basket. Different, simply because we know Moses' background: Pharoah had ordered all Hebrew baby boys killed, and so in order to save his life his mother placed him in a basket, and he was carefully watched by his sister Miriam until he was discovered by Pharoah's daughter. Moses' story of abandonment was a part of God's sovereign plan to save not only Moses' life, but to rescue the entire Hebrew nation from their years of slavery in Egypt.

Because we don't know anything about Mowgli's background, we can only assume that he was left in a basket in the jungle because his parents didn't want him. And I wondered how David and Daniel felt as they watched this scene. Because they both know that they were abandoned when they were infants. They know what it feels like to be unwanted.

How much time passed between when they were left and when they were discovered? How did their parents feel about letting them go? Was anyone watching in the shadows to make sure they were found? What would have happened to them if they weren't discovered? Or what kind of lives would they have had if their parents had decided to keep them? The unknown questions of abandonment.

David came home from school recently and asked as he was taking off his shoes, “Why do Chinese parents abandon their children if there's something wrong with them?” I responded with the first thing that came to my mind, which I realized later didn't actually address the pain underneath his question. “Not all Chinese parents do, and it doesn't happen just in China. There are parents all over the world who abandon their children.” On a different day when he came home from school he asked, “Why was I born with feet like this?” And I simply said, “I don't know why either. But that's the special way that God made you.”

After the scene of Mowgli being found as a baby, the story jumps ahead to his 10th year, when Shere Khan the tiger returned to the wolves' hunting grounds. In order to protect him, Bagheera attempted to lead him to safety in a nearby man village. But Mowgli stubbornly refused to leave his familiar home in the jungle. He didn't see himself as a human because he had lived with animals all his life. He didn't have a concept of danger, and thought he could take care of himself.


My brother Paul joined our family when he was 6 (my sister Windy was 6 then too, and my brother Monty and I were both 7). My Dad had flown to Brazil just before Christmas to get him, and Paul called him “Papa Noel” because there was some definite resemblance. But Paul was also scared of this white man with a big beard and wanted to find the woman who had taken care of him at the orphanage, and so he ran away from my Dad at the airport. He wanted to return to what was familiar.

David let us know with cries of panic and fear that he wanted to go back to the orphanage not long after he joined our family. Because we were not at all familiar to him, and this did not feel like his real home. The orphanage was all he knew.

Mowgli didn't want his life to change either. After he ran away from Bagheera, he followed the elephants for awhile, and then attached himself to Baloo the bear. 



Watching his behavior reminded me of both David and Daniel. A few months ago we were eating at a restaurant with our host family from Gaoli village. Daniel was taking longer than he should have to come back from the bathroom, and when I went to check on him I found him in a private room across the hall from ours, standing happily at the back of a woman's chair enjoying this new party that he had found, never thinking that this group of people were all strangers. David has a better sense of who strangers are, but can very quickly attach himself to guests in our home, in a way that reminds me of Mowgli's drifting and seeking to find a sense of belonging. Who is paying attention to me and how can I fit in?

Finally at the end of The Jungle Book, Mowgli made the decision himself to leave the jungle and to enter the man village after he heard a village girl's song. He felt compelled to follow her, and so he found his real home at last.


We hope that David and Daniel will both come to that conclusion for themselves too, as they continue to figure out who they are and where they belong. That God would give them a settled peace and contentment with their somewhat complicated identities and their still relatively new place of belonging. That they would come to accept the unanswered questions of their abandonment with a trust in God's goodness and sovereignty.

From a sibling's and a mother's point of view, I know about adoption. But not as one who has been abandoned. I can only imagine what those feelings and struggles must be like. As our family seeks to answer the questions Where Have I Come From and Where Am I Going? we want to grow in our understanding of David and Daniel's hearts as they process their lost and found stories. Because by God's goodness and sovereignty, their stories are now an integral part of each of our stories.

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