Saturday, October 26, 2013

Reality: Adoption Love

When people feel close enough to me to be REALLY honest, they ask the hard questions.  This does not bother me.  I like it.  Actually, I love it.  I love honesty, even when honesty is difficult.  Maybe I love honesty ESPECIALLY when it is difficult.  Honesty is real.  Honesty is messy.  I like it.

So, here is today's honest question and hopefully even more honest response...

Do you love children who were adopted as much as those who are biological?

Yikes.  This is real, people.  Where to begin?

To start, let's talk about love.

The simplest definition that I can come up with for the word "love" -
acting in a way that puts the needs of another above your own wants and needs.
Do I do this?  Sometimes...maybe...with the help of God, I do.  Many times I do not.

Love is not a feeling.  It brings feelings with it, of course.  I can feel my heart beat a little faster when my husband walks in the room after being away.  I can feel my heart actually bursting with emotion for my children.  I can feel my heart fill with warmth and joy when my parents hug me.  Sure, I feel in love, but the love is not a feeling.

Love is a decision.

The love between a husband and wife is a great example of this.  Each day, husbands must choose to love their wives.  They must choose to act for their wives.  Maybe that action is working hard.  Maybe that action is cooking dinner.  Maybe that action is taking out the trash.  And each day, wives must choose to love their husbands.  They must choose to act for their husbands.  Maybe that action is working hard.  Maybe that action is cooking dinner.  Maybe that action is taking out the trash.  The point is that they choose to act.

When I say I love my children, I mean I love them...
and I mean I am in love with them.

When I say I love my children, I mean I choose to act for them...
and I feel what comes along with that action.

Each day, parents must choose to love their children.  They must choose to act in a way that puts their children's needs above their own wants and needs.

The reality is - children are not always easy to feel in love with.  Who is?

They are tiny humans who know your buttons better than anyone else (besides maybe your spouse).  They will choose to push those buttons during the most embarrassing times.  They DEMAND your attention during the most inopportune times.  They force you to make the decision to love them each and every moment of your life.

And the more love acts you do for them...
maybe that act is working hard,
maybe that act is cooking dinner,
maybe that act is taking out the trash,

the more you feel in love.

So, do I love my son who was adopted as much as my son and daughter who are biological?

You better believe it...
with the help of God.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Reality: Why I am Lutheran

There are probably a lot of correct answers to this question.  I don’t always answer with the most theologically sound responses.  I don’t always answer with the most politically correct responses.  I will, however, try to answer with the most honest response.

Why am I a Lutheran? 

There was this boy and I liked him.  I liked him enough to walk into a Lutheran service to surprise him one Sunday.  I must have liked him a lot.  I was scared of a Lutheran service.  The only thing I knew about it was that it was “like a catholic mass.”  That was enough for me, a good little Nazarene girl, to stay clear.   I didn’t know much about the theology of Roman Catholicism, but I did know that their mass just seemed so distant.  It seemed confusing, rehearsed, boring, unchanging, and stuffy.  If Lutherans were like them, I just didn’t think it was for me. 

But…the boy.  So I went.

That first Sunday was everything I thought it would be – confusing, rehearsed (except by me), boring, unchanging, and stuffy.  I was not hooked.  I was anything but hooked by the service, but, alas, I was hooked by the boy. 

So, week after week, I kept giving it a try.  I didn’t go because I enjoyed the service.  I didn’t go because I thought I fit in there.  I didn’t go because I felt connected to God.  I honestly went because of the boy.  But something happened in those weeks that I kept following him to church.  I began to recognize the flow of the service.  I began to hear familiar tunes.  I began to recognize little nuances of the prayers matching the hymn matching the sermon.  Over a few weeks, the confusing, rehearsed, boring, unchanging, and stuffy service became interesting, familiar, intriguing, unchanging (in a totally awesome way), and freeing. 

It took some effort on my part to get there.  I could have gone in, thought, “This is terribly confusing,” and never tried again.  I actually had to try to pay attention.  I had to follow the lead of others more matured in the liturgy than me.  I found myself looking for the connections in the service.  I found myself diving into how the words we were saying were actually IN THE BIBLE!  I found myself more interested by church than I had ever been. 

This is not a statement against my parents or my former churches or pastors.  I am extremely grateful for the Christian home and churches I have been blessed to be a part of my whole life.  Growing up Nazarene gave me the greatest respect for reading, learning, and memorizing the Bible.  What an amazing gift to be given – the love of the Scriptures!  To this day, when people ask me the difference between Nazarenes and Lutherans, I say, “As a Nazarene, I was taught the Bible.  As a Lutheran, I have been given the lenses to understand it.”  That is what Lutheranism gave to me – a really great pair of glasses.  And the most influential part of those glasses was taught to me through the liturgy.  Week after week I was being taught the Confessions through strong liturgy.  I was reciting the Bible (many texts I had memorized from my Nazarene days) every week.  I was immersed in God’s Word every Sunday. 

For people who say that a liturgical Lutheran service is confusing, rehearsed, boring, unchanging, and stuffy – I would agree with you at first.  It is scary not knowing what everyone else knows.  It is intimidating when you don’t know how to use a hymnal.  But the exact things that felt scary and intimidating to me in the beginning are the exact things that I treasure most now.  I can travel almost anywhere and find a church within driving distance that will feel just like home.  I don’t walk in like a stranger anymore, even when I am a stranger in this world. 

And about being unchanging?  Oh, thanks be to God that the service is unchanging.  Bring on the boringness of sameness.  In this world, we are inundated with newness, change, excitement, and pizzazz.  Our God is an unchanging God.  The same yesterday, today, and forever.  I love thinking of the liturgy as a reflection of that aspect of God.  I don’t get that anywhere else in my life.  I get it in Church.  Thanks be to God.  How amazing is it to know that the saints of old were saying those same words?  How amazing is it to know that, God willing, my children and grandchildren will continue to say the same words each Sunday?  Unchanging bad?  No, most certainly not.  Unchanging good.

Thank God for the liturgy. 

The most amazing part of the liturgy is the fact that the more I learn about it, the more I want to know.  The more I know about it, the more I learn about the Bible.  Actually becoming an informed lay person has made me want to be more informed. It is not boring; it is intriguing.  It has very deep rooted beliefs bleeding throughout it.  I just had to be willing to learn about it a little.

I do not need something new in my life.  I have too many new things.  What I need is something old.  I need something interesting, familiar, intriguing, unchanging, and freeing.  

That is why I am a Lutheran.