Monday, May 27, 2013

Love is a Verb. Love is a Choice.

"I don't know if I could love an adopted child the way I do my own biological children." These are the words a precious lady shared with me this morning, behind many tears. "Cindy" (we'll call her this to protect her identity) recently connected with my blog and was touched by our story. Cindy's husband has wanted to adopt for years but Cindy shared with me that she just wasn't there yet. I don't slight her for this. In fact, I admire her honesty, her humility, her vulnerability, and her ability to express her weakness. As Cindy and I parted, my heart stirred. I began having the same doubts, the same lies that Satan loves to tell me over and over again. As He always does, the Holy Spirit intervened...

Love is a verb. And it's a choice. I promise, Cindy, that there is no adoptive parent on earth who didn't doubt their ability to love their adopted child. The truth is, we may never feel as emotionally connected with our adopted children as we do our biological ones. God often blesses families with this connection but if the emotions don't come, that's okay too. Love is a choice. Our adoptive Father in heaven proved this. He chose to love us, despite our ickyness, our selfishness, our inability to measure up. While we were literally enemies of God, He reached through the muck and embraced us as His infinitely loved children. "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) If anyone understands the idea of choosing to love another, it's certainly Jesus.

Christ is the only one who ever perfectly demonstrated what love is. We can look to the cross for the example of how we are to love. Love is... "patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails..." (1Cor.13:4-8) This type of love is not a mushy, feel-good, warm feeling. This type of love is messy, sacrificial, endless, unconditional, hard, contrary to our culture, perfect, and it is active.

Are we loving our spouses, our children, our friends, strangers, even our enemies with this type of love? Do we not have a natural tendency to step back and protect ourselves when we don't "feel" like loving these people? If they wrong us, we get defensive. If they don't meet our expectations, we ignore them (even abandon them). When they disappoint us, we hold grudges. And we pretend the weak aren't out there because we don't have to see them in our living rooms. This is what our flesh does, but it is not who God is or who he calls us to be when we are in Christ. We must choose to love each other and understand that this can only be accomplished with God's strength. This can only be done by remembering the one who made the ultimate choice to love us.

I don't pretend to believe that when we pick Emily up from China, that all my fears will subside, or that I will have an immediate connection with her. In fact, I expect that our connection will take some time. But I will choose to love her as my own, just as Christ chose to love me. She WILL be our own, just as much as our 3 bios are. If I'm being honest with you, I don't always "want" to love those around me. The "what ifs" exist for my biological family as well. I have to work at loving them too, because, unlike Christ, I'm not perfect. Thankfully, he does live in me and gives me the strength to choose love. He provides in all things and he will provide the love needed for Emily Hope. I have doubts and fears and I promise there will be times I can't love her the way she needs. But God can and will. And my hope in that promise is enough to move forward.

The Holy Spirit convicted me this morning, through my conversation with Cindy. What a blessing to speak with someone so in love with God and so burdened by her flesh that she was brought to tears. It's clear that Cindy loves the Lord. I pray that she experiences, in a bigger way, the freedom that Christ bought for us. Cindy may not be called to adoption and that's okay. Yes, scripture commands us to care for the orphan and widow, to love the least of these, to serve God with all our hearts. But we can all obey this command through different gifts and avenues. I look forward to sharing with you, as we climb our adoption mountain, ways you can live out God's command to care for the least of these and disciple all nations. Everyone has a gift that can contribute in a huge way!

Cindy, I love you. You are a precious sister in Christ and I am thankful that you seek to follow His will. I will walk with you on your path to bringing glory to God, whether that be through adoption or otherwise. God will lead and he will provide in all things. Rest in that, sweet sister. "Be still and know that I am God."(Psalm 46:10)

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