This is my response to a recent post titled “Meant to Be.” I will warn you that it is based solely on my faith and my experience, not a seminary education, countless hours of research or gathering statistics. I’m a little busy raising my eight children, but I do make time to gather information about things that are important to me. I also have found that I can’t be a woman of faith and NOT apply it to everything I do. For that reason I would not be allowed to post a response on the original site.
Despite my fear of conflict or confrontation, I am compelled to share my heart by Mark 8:38 where Jesus clearly states that if we are ashamed of Him or His words in this age, then He surely will be ashamed of us when we appear before the Father in glory.
After reading the post twice, I think the point of it is this: As adoptive parents we should consider the messages our children get from the things we say to them. While we may mean one thing, our children may get a different message. There is a story of a young adult adoptee who is ‘miffed’ at God for her adoptive parents telling her she was ‘meant to be’ their child. Apparently, she has surmised that if God planned for her to be their child, He must have planned the death of her birth parents. Then there is a reminder of blogs of adult adoptees who are also ticked off about being adopted, a link about advice and then the advice of not telling our kids they were ‘meant to be’ ours.
So if I’ve correctly gotten the point of the post, which many were accused of missing, then I have drawn a few conclusions.
First, we simply can’t take God out of adoption when He is the author of adoption! Once created, we chose the path of independence, and He has promised not to leave us as orphans, but receive us as His children. Not that He has a hand in making orphans of children. On the contrary, He brings beauty from the ashes. He takes the rubble we make and uses it for good! He created us with one flaw, a will of our own. But what kind of god would create us and then force us to do anything, good or bad? I know there’s the age-old question of ‘if God is so good, how can he allow so many bad things to happen?’ He is not evil and doesn’t cause bad things to happen, but because He has given us a choice, we will cause bad things to happen to satisfy our own desires. Does that mean the mother whose baby has died has done something wrong? No! Does it mean the teenager killed in a car accident did something wrong? No! Does it mean the ‘good’ person who dies of cancer has done something wrong? No! But God will take that untimely death, that tragedy, that disease, and use them for good by allowing those close to receive peace and comfort if they choose. He will even bring others to depend on Him through such events. In the unthinkable, in the lose/lose circumstances is when we realize our own mortality and frailty, our lack of control. And that is often when we turn to Him, perhaps not even understanding Who He is, but knowing we need something bigger than ourselves. Only through a relationship with Him can we slightly begin to understand His love for us. When we view tragedy and loss, we can only see it as through a small, clouded window with limited perspective. There’s no way we can fully comprehend why things happen. But when we trust Him, we understand that His plans are for good. He rights the wrongs we commit. He works all things for the good of those who love Him. There is a perpetual plan in motion. Our simple minds cannot fathom the goodness that will come from the disasters.
It won’t do any good to ‘spout’ Scripture because the Bible says it is nonsense to those who don’t believe. So what can we do? How about pull up our boot straps and be the believers we are intended to be instead of cowering in the corner, waiting for someone else to do the job? When we become believers, we are no more ‘perfect’ than we were before! We still have that same will and natural tendency toward self as before. But the difference is that we now have power! We have the power of the Holy Spirit which allows us to communicate with our Father, to overcome our selfish desires, to distinguish the difference between right and wrong and step out in faith, knowing we are incapable…even though we still have the ability to choose.
Second, I seriously doubt the reason this young person is so miffed is solely because of the use of the phrase ‘meant to be.’ Anyone who has raised teenagers understands there is a time when they may search for who they are and how they fit in, regardless of whether they look like their parents or not. There comes a time for us to explore our own beliefs. We can embrace what our parents have taught us, question what they’ve taught, perhaps even discover their teaching was wrong, or we can wander aimlessly, convincing ourselves we are victims of somebody’s wrongdoing. As a believer later in life, I had a lot of catching up to do and it was natural for me to question things that just didn’t seem right according to Scripture. One such time I asked a person who had grown up in church, “Do you believe what you just heard? Because it doesn’t sound right to me.” She said, “I don’t know; I’ve just always thought it was true because I’ve heard it before.” We can’t inherit salvation from our parents. It isn’t handed down like a birthright. And just because something is said a lot doesn’t make it true! Like we tell our youth, “Don’t believe it cuz I say it; check it out in the Bible and see for yourself.”
Third, we need to know what we believe and why we believe it! I have felt this burden ever since I became a youth leader. When our kids graduate and leave the safety of home, I desperately want them to be grounded. Our 21-year-old son is attending college and living out his faith (even though he’s sportin’ a Mohawk after a year of shaving his head – wadupwidat?) despite living across the hall from Satanists and professors who won’t accept his papers because of their unbelief. He’s able to do this, not because we are such good parents, but because he knows what he believes and why he believes it.
Fourth, God can handle us being miffed at Him. My dad lived most of his 62 years miffed at God because his mother died when he was five and then some horrible things that happened after that. I loved my dad, and I’m thrilled to say that he is now in Heaven because he accepted Christ just weeks before he passed away. But he wasted most of his life living in despair, trying to understand what had happened and becoming the victim of his past. That was the tumultuous environment I grew up in, and yet I didn’t run from God or choose not to believe because horrible things had happened. I probably would have accepted Christ at a younger age if I had heard about Him. But God used all the rotten things that happened in my dad’s life and mine to bring me to a place of accepting His invitation. Bottom line, there comes a time when we just gotta put on our big people panties and grow up.
Finally, there is food for thought in this post. Even though I don’t think we’ve ever used the exact phrase ‘meant to be’ with our adopted children, we have shared God’s faithfulness and miraculous hand in bringing them home. It’s true that we gained from another’s loss. Our gain did not cause another’s loss, and maybe that’s what we need to make sure our children understand. In essence, God came along and picked up the broken pieces to make something whole again. There will be pain and perhaps scars. Our responsibility as parents is to share our faith with our children and allow them the freedom to share their pain with us. That starts early. As soon as our children come home we begin to share their ‘story’ at an appropriate level, such as talking about God whispering to our hearts and eventually boarding a plane to meet our child. It sounds like a fairytale, and many know it’s not. But if you think for one second I’m going to portray to my child that the adoption journey is about the tragedy of brokenness, countless hours of paperwork, hundreds of thousands of dollars, sleepless nights, undiagnosed medical needs and giving up some of life’s pleasures, you’re wrong! Those might be part of the journey, but they are not THE journey. The One who led us down the path will also help us parent each of our children and will give them a heart to see His goodness, if they choose.
Unfortunately, we live in a society that leaves us looking for someone to blame and something to believe in. I urge you to ask yourself, at the end of the day if everything I have placed my hope in has crumbled and everyone I have placed my hope in has failed me, what will I hope for? Who will restore me? There is only One, and He proclaims that one day every knee will bow…