the problem of the powerful
i recently started reading jamie ivey's book, if you only knew. this paragraph really struck me the other night.
an example of where god is tossing me into the deep end of my greatest need for the purpose of showing me he is all i'll ever need? yeah, for sure. my greatest need is for control. motherhood busted that up real good when bina came into this world poopy butt first two years and nine months ago. and he's tossing me into the deep end again through this journey of adoption and the incredible amount of uncertainty it brings daily. as he shows me just how little control i have and walks with me through the ups and downs of parenting and this adoption process, god is making more and more clear to me that he is the anchor of my life. the only one who is unchanging in a world of uncertainty. the only one i need.
right now, i am bina's anchor. her attachment to me and security in her relationship with me gives her the confidence she needs to be able to run around freely and be her active, adorable little self. i delight in seeing her run around in the lobby of the school our church is hosted in after service, happily galloping around and giggling.
my heart bursts with love for her as i watch her come into her element, beaming with joy and the boundless energy of a toddler. how much more so must god feel this way about me. as i am anchored solely in god, i can fully be who he has made me to be. i can step out, take risks, love big, face uncertainty. if i am anchored in god, i have all i need in him. and he delights in me.
on friday we had another profile showing. and now we wait to hear if we were chosen to parent, or not. if we weren't, we just won't hear anything. and if we are, we will get contacted to set up a meeting with the birth parents to make sure we are the right fit. what an odd process this is! i can't let myself think on it too much. best to just keep on keeping on with normal life. whenever a match or placement does happen, our lives will be turned upside down in the best way. until then, business as usual! i thought about resuming pumping after our return from PA three weeks ago. but i'm sticking with my original plan of holding off unless we are matched with a birth family with time to go before baby arrives.
every time i'm faced with my own emotions about this process, i find myself considering what it must be like for the birth parents. both sides of this equation are highly emotional for different reasons. i cannot be so wrapped up in my own thoughts and emotions that i'm not thinking about the other people involved and their thoughts and emotions. everyone experiences this differently. different circumstances. different people. each one unique, a story and journey all their own.
on saturday i returned to the charles h. wright museum of african american history with david and some friends of ours. i had been once before, but it was their first time. as our friend who leads our transracial adoption group conducted the tour of the museum for us, a theme that hadn't struck me before began to surface. i failed to remember all the facets of the slave trade from my first visit. maybe my brain was on overload and unable to process more by the time we reached that portion of the museum. but i didn't remember that african leadership corroborated with the slave traders to sell their own people. those in power benefitted from the exploitation of the vulnerable, no matter the color of their skin. our guide shared at one point that had the races been reversed, if she had been a slave owner as a black women with a whites as slaves, she would have resisted the end of slavery too. what person in power wants to lose that power?
the theme that emerged this time then was that across races, the powerful exploit the vulnerable. and what makes the powerful, powerful? money. influence. knowledge. control. walking through the museum for the second time, i was confronted with the depravity of humanity. how could africa have been exploited so callously by other nations? how could their people have been treated less than human, trafficked across the seas to different nations for labor? how could those sailors on the ships have lived with themselves? how could african leadership exploit their own people this way? how does humanity get to such a point of depravity, complete separation from good conscience? and then i started thinking on a smaller scale. the root of that same sin exists in me.
it's not just "those people" that commit heinous acts against humanity, against those created in god's very image, against god himself. all sin separates us from god, no matter how big or small it may seem. anytime i feel insecure and need to compare myself to someone else to make myself feel better. that need to justify and validate my life and decisions. that's sin. the only opinion that matters is god's. if i am obedient to him and in right standing before him, nothing else matters. no other opinion is of consequence. and if i hold it as of consequence, i am making that opinion an idol and holding it above the place of god in my life. shame on me! if i judge another person, in my head or out loud, and make myself think somehow i am better than them, saying to myself or others: "those racists, at least i'm not like them. my christianity isn't hypocritical like theirs." that same need to establish superiority is what led to atrocities like the exploitation of the vulnerable in the slave trade. that same potential for great evil lives in me. so don't be full of pride, brittain, BEWARE!
i am doing my best to educate myself, to inform myself, to quicken my mind to recognize and challenge wrong thinking. i'm doing this specifically in the area of racism and also in the area of adoption. language matters. vocabulary matters. recognizing a perspective besides one's own MATTERS. there are always (at least) two sides to every story. we're familiar with our own. it takes humility and courage to sit down and listen to that of someone else. especially someone with a different background and upbringing. someone with a completely different experience. and to hear that experience without judgement. because the reality is we don't know what we would have done had we been in that person's shoes, because we aren't in that person's shoes with their particular experiences. so i'm gathering all the stories i can to give myself a fuller picture of what the whole of reality might be.
i think walking out of the museum on saturday i realized there is just so much gray. history is a mess written by the victors. but there are (at least) two sides. the reality is that all of humanity is depraved. we are all capable of great evil. we commit it everyday in our hearts! i didn't find that realization particularly discouraging -- it is what it is. but we have a great responsibility to be self aware. whatever position of power we find ourselves in, no matter how big or small, we must keep ourselves accountable. we are prone to the abuse of power. recognize it! open our eyes and take a good look. we must check ourselves continually and ensure that that power is being used for good, not for evil. to lift up, not to exploit.
i'm continually asking god to show me how he wants to use me right where i'm at to fight for the vulnerable. amidst the people i encounter every day. my heart is stirred by racial reconciliation, reparations, and adoption right now. probably other things too as i become passionate about what seems like everything i hear or read. but i can't do all the things, i can only do my part. so i'll keep asking god to open my eyes to see my part, right here and now, to give me the courage to do it, for his glory, and to constantly keep my heart in check.