Family photo 2013

Family photo 2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Leaps and Bounds and Redemption

Flint has had one of the best weeks of his life in the United States of America. It has been a wondrous, hope inducing, awe filling, growing in leaps and bounds reality. Which, coincidentally translates to Flint and I have had one of the best weeks of his life in the United States of America. See how that works? Yes, I am the parent but relationships are streets that run two ways. My tender mercy for the boy has swelled and expanded and stretched to new heights. Witnessing improvement, forward movement that might, perhaps mean my labor has not been in vain, is good for my often weary flesh.  I can not help but be thankful for the wellspring that is refreshment when it washes over me.

Of course as there is often a ying to every yang, sweet Meadow is in a bit of a slump. Pockets of despair I thought we had  finally moved beyond are being revisited and I am once again reminded grief is a wave. It ebbs and it flows. It recedes exposing wide, sandy beaches and it rises to high tide obliterating what lies in its wake. Even through painful tears of overwhelming sorrow, we will continue to row.

Speaking of lamentation, a blog post that is a couple years old was brought to my attention recently. It was written by Jamie the Very Worst Missionary and can be found here. I had not read it before, but I basically emphatically agree. Not because I have any experience with short term missions trips, but because I possess intimate, ego stripping, heart shattering, raw, flawed motive exposing knowledge of what it is to swoop in on an impoverished family with my Western Philanthropy and take what I truly, to the very core of my being, believe belongs to another and claim them as my own. Yes, I am speaking of Meadow and Flint.

Although I feel enormous resistance when I mention this and I am no stranger to the significant pressure as a follower of Christ to count it all redemptive, I do not claim that to be the case.

As much as I desire to be honored for a good deed as much as anyone else, when injustice has been rendered, I have to believe it right and honorable to acknowledge and address it rather than sweep it under the rug to keep up appearances.

To me, our quasi ethical adoption is the epitome of a short term missions trip gone awry, not with ill intention, but with misguided effort. 

Eek. Uncomfortable, I know.

I see Meadow struggle with a crisis of identity that I humbly doubt will ever be fully healed this side of our coveted eternal hope.

I see Flint struggle with the weighty expectations of life in America which include continual academic progress and verbal interaction and increasing responsibility and I truly wonder if he is better suited to days spent on the African Savannah.

I know that for them, that this land of abundance comes with its own particular brand of poverty.

I think about the $1,000 a piece we spent on Lifebook videos in which a videographer and translator visited our children's fathers in their rural homes and filmed the locations, including their siblings and I wince with embarrassment over what I have done. I ask myself how I would feel in his place as I observe the anguish in his face and the tremble in his voice and the tears welling in his eyes as Meadow's father gives detailed account of his daughter's life, from her labor and delivery until the day he dropped her at the orphanage, including the moment he named her, Masso, meaning blessing.

I can not help writhe in grief that I did not have the wherewithal to collect all my benevolence and do something preventative for these families. So their fathers could raise their own children. So their families could stay intact. So their dignity could remain secure. So my daughter's heart would not be so deeply wounded. So she would not forever fight the uphill battle of feeling herself deserted, abandoned, unwanted, unworthy.

When I say say I agree and I have absolutely no plan to participate in a short term mission trip, it is not flippantly or without thought. It's because I can't even look in that direction. Although I know without a doubt there are many people doing wonderful work in foreign countries, even on short trips, it's not just Meadow and Flint and their families who have suffered, I too have been scarred by participating in ethically questionable practices that I have no means of undoing. I just couldn't even consider it an option.

Whether you fault me for it or not makes no difference - my conscience has been burdened.

At the same time, in response to what has taken place in our lives I do continue to feel led to give in the realm of orphan care and my passion has grown because of the road we've walked. But our service is and will continue to take on an entirely different light.

And that will have to be redemptive enough.


1 comment:

Shalom said...

I wept as I read this. My heart has also been rendered by what we have done. My only hope is that we can guide adoption reform.

And this? "I know that for them, that this land of abundance comes with its own particular brand of poverty." I have never heard it put that way, but that pretty much sums it up.

One note on short term missions. I agree 1000%. I have raised my kids in that same vein as you are raising yours regarding short term missions. I am adamant in where I stand on this issue.

However.... :)

I have a 17 year old daughter who this summer, at the last minute, decided she DID want to go on her youth group's trip to Texas. While the majority of the kids stayed within their comfort zone, my daughter chose to go with just herself and one leader into a tent city that is in a park. Deep into the tent city, to help a young woman clean up her area. It is a dangerous, drug-ridden, trash-filled area. Why? "Because," my daughter said, "she asked for our help, so I went."

She chose to befriend a man and he walked her and her friend through a high crime area, filled with addicts and gangs. For two hours she sat and just talked with him. Just talked. When it was time for her to go, he cried and said to her, "Thank-you. For the first time in 4 years I felt like a human being again.". Needless to say, this mama wept.

I think what's important, is to teach our children that the majority of short term missions are about the person going, and have very little to do with the people being "ministered" to. That most people go to make themselves "feel good". That in the process, the PEOPLE we are supposedly going to help, get lost. And they get treated as an object of our "Christianity" instead of as people.

God can use our faults as I saw with my daughter. I still stand behind my conviction that short term missions are devastating. But, God.

Love your honesty.

God bless.

Blog Archive