Monday, April 29, 2013

My Reflection

I started my last blog off talking about being transparent, honest and open as I feel it is important especially being a Christian so I am here again to share some more of my life to help encourage others that you are not alone in your feelings.

I got a few responses from my last blog, two really that have spurred this blog on... one especially from a lovely young lady I know that texted me tonight and was a conformation from God that I needed to share more in depth from that last blog. To both of you ladies, you know who you are, I hope this at least will give you some peace that you are not alone.

In my last blog I made reference to the fact that I really had no interest in finding my biological family for a while but then I started thinking about them and wondering about them... and so we start at this point where my journey of wondering and thinking began.

A few years ago I lived down in Grandview and attended church/events at the International House Of Prayer (aka IHOP). I had a dream, honestly it was a nightmare to be more accurate, about my biological father... whom in all reality may or may not even know I exist... the one of whom I have probably wondered the most about... like whether he would want me if he knew I existed or whether he knew about me and wanted nothing to do with me by choice and asked to never be mentioned on the birth certificate or otherwise... but I digress.

The Dream
I was being chased by a tiger. It was hunting me. I ran into a restaurant and called out to a man with his back to me. He was my biological father. I couldn't see his face but I kept calling out to him and asking him to help me. I was terrified and desperate... I wanted, I needed, his help to stay alive. He arose from his chair and whipped around to face me and then looked at the tiger. He replied, "Kill her for all I care. Eat her and make it painful. Tear her limb from limb. I never wanted her. She is nothing to me. I don't want to know her and I never want to see her again." He turned to me and said, "I knew of you and want nothing to do with you. You are worthless and are better off dead. The world would be better off without you." Turning back to the tiger he said, "Kill her. I will not stand in your way." With that, he disappeared and I was left cowering in front of this tiger just anticipating it's lunging to devour me as its muscles tightened as it crouched into striking position...
End Dream

Wow, horrible right? Just imagine, that was just a dream... sadly I am sure there are people who have been told that by their fathers. But regardless, Satan will attack the orphaned and fatherless. Even those who are placed into a loving family or maybe their parents remarried are not shielded from the attacks of Satan on their lives and their worth. I am proof of that because I have an awesome dad but through that dream I was attacked and hit really hard.

I went through the emotions of questioning my worth, wondering if it was a sign of how my biological father really felt. For a while it solidified my decision not to find my biological family because it was hard enough to face that kind of rejection face to face... or the even on the phone or by letter... however it may happen. But through the pain it actually drew me closer to God and over time He slowly healed that wound and changed my heart as a result. I can't give anyone a five step plan on how to "fix" these feelings but I can tell you how I delt with them and allowed God to heal me. Forgiveness is very freeing. It doesn't mean you condone how you were treated by the person or even that you have to forget... forgiveness is for you, not them. To refuse to forgive people who have hurt you means you are refusing to let yourself be healed and have a happy fulfilling life.

Unfortunately, this was just one of many things at IHOP that I would face that would challenge my relationship with God. I faced betrayal and a fall out with a girl I considered a best friend and a boy I was sure was the one for me. Thank the Lord, He had better plans... but I wouldn't see that until after a very small rebellious streak. Thank You, Lord, You were there to anchor me down and sent me the perfect friend to keep my head above water. I dated a boy just to be dating and I knew he was not the right one for me. The funny thing in all this is that He brought two guys into the mix to knock some sense into me. One was a guy friend who was like a big brother to me and a non-Christian... he said he wanted to meet the guy I was dating. My initial reaction was, "Oh crap! He's gonna meet this boy and ask me what the heck I'm doing because this boy and I are so not made for each other! We are so beyond opposites!" So, I texted said boy that my guy friend wanted to meet him and if my guy friend didn't approve of him then we would no longer be dating. Of course said boy flipped out saying he didn't need anyone's approval.... eeeehhhh WRONG ANSWER BUDDY.... aaaand that ended that rebellion. The other guy friend God made prominent in my life during that rebellion was my "Jesus life raft" and kept me from straying too far from God during this rough time... he would end up becoming my husband, but that is a story for another day. ;-)

I decided to go to beauty school while all this took place... when the rebellious streak ended and my talks with my future husband ensued I would spend what felt like hours staring at myself in the mirrors in our classrooms seeking to see what God saw in me. I would sit and talk to Him about how empty, worthless and ugly I felt. I would tell Him how desperately I wanted to see myself as He saw me. I knew the only way to be healed was to seek my worth in Him. Days and weeks passed of this seeking and speaking to God... waiting, listening and expecting. Eventually I could look into the mirror and see something different in my eyes (your eyes are the mirror to your soul, don'tcha know?) Instead of the deadness I started to see life and light in my eyes. I saw the churning of a sea after a storm... I saw beauty and depth in all the experiences, challenges and storms I had been through. I started to see beauty and worth in myself. I then began to seek answers and healing about my biological father. But the answers I sought were not answered in the way I originally sought them out.

He started out revealing the dream to me. The tiger represented Satan hunting me. Satan wants to devour those who follow God, the ones who He calls His own, the ones who are His children. Satan doesn't attack those who are not a threat to him, he attacks and drags down the ones who are a threat to him... the ones God has shown their worth to. The biological father not only represented my real fears about my biological father but the unspoken fears in my life as a whole. I sought refuge, comfort and protection in things or people I couldn't rely on because they were all temporary. The one who could protect me was God and God alone. He began healing that fear of rejection from my biological family. He taught me through my quiet times and the reading of scripture that He was my Father, Daddy, Abba. He would never reject me, He was my protector... and He would continue to remind me of that in the future (Psalm 91).

I read once in a Donald Miller book that we often see God the way we see our own fathers... distant, cold, unreachable, uncaring. Thankfully I have had a wonderful father in my life who was anything but that so it was easier for me to draw close to God as a loving Father with an attainable relationship.  But to those who haven't been so lucky, God loves you more deeply than you know. He desperately wants a relationship with you. His love is more fulfilling than any other and He can fill the fatherless void in your life. He will take the sting away and sometimes He will put a physical man in your life to be that father figure you need if you are willing to let them in. I know its not quite the same as being loved and acknowledged by the one who shares your DNA... but it can sometimes be so much better and rewarding... just think, that person CHOSE you... Just like God chose you. You are worth so much more than you realize and if your biological father walked out on you it is not because there is something wrong with you but there are things wrong with them... like blindness and selfishness... but seek that God would change YOU first. Open yourself up to God to be changed, to be able to love yourself, to love and forgive the one who has hurt you, to be healed and freed from all the hidden things that have left you chained and empty... and pray that God would soften and change their heart for their own good for those who don't repent for their sin and turn from their selfish ways will meet a firey torturous eternity. No matter how we are treated, we are commanded to love regardless and we should wish no one to meet that kind of an eternity.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Adoption

I thought I would let y'all in on my life a bit. I have always believed that transparency was always the best way to live one's life... especially being a Christian... over the years I have learned to guard my heart but still follow through with my open book policy. If you ask me a question about myself or my life I will give you an honest answer... I am an open book.

So, let me start from the beginning. Hello, my name is Beverly but you can call me Bevy, all my friends do. I was adopted when I was 7 months old. My parents thought it important to bring us up knowing we were adopted (my brother is adopted too but I will delve into that in a moment). They would tell us in a bedtime story. It was actually my favorite bedtime story and I would ask my mom to tell it to me all the time. It went something like this:

"Once upon a time, there was a couple who very desperately wanted to be a mommy and a daddy but they were unable to have their own children so God brought them a little boy and they were very happy. A few years later they wanted a little girl and God brought them a little girl and their family was finally complete and the mommy and daddy were so happy and they lived happily ever after."

I know it probably sounds cheesy now, and I'm sure I improvised some since it has been a long time since I was told this story but you get the jist. My parents made sure to raise us knowing that we were loved and special because we were adopted and that it didn't make us any less of a family because we weren't blood.

Growing up knowing I was adopted never really bothered me in a lot of ways but I always had this hidden fear that my biological mom would decide she wanted me back and would come take me away from all of the people I loved... take me away from everything I knew. I would actually have nightmares about it. I wasn't old enough to understand that legally that couldn't happen.

I was never really interested in finding my biological family. Friends would ask me that a lot and I would tell them no. Apparently that's not the answer people normally expect. Haha. So they would ask why not and this is why. I was satisfied. I had a mom and dad who love me and a big brother I adore and an extended family I love. Why would I need to seek out what I already had?

I received a letter when I turned 18 that gave me all the information that was known about my biological family, which wasn't a lot. My biological name was Carolyn Ann. I had one older half brother who was 3 1/2 years older than I who was adopted by his biological father... I believe his name was Vincent. I have at least one sibling who is younger than me but not by a lot as my biological mother was pregnant with another child when I was adopted. My biological mother was a truck driver and had no idea who my biological father was. She didn't even know how to hold me when I was born.

At first reading this information made me furious. It made me feel like my biological mom just slept around a lot and popped out kids like it was no big thing and just tossed us in the system like she didn't care about us at all. I hated her for a while. But God has always been at work in my life and constantly had His hand on my heart making me compassionate and melting any anger or hatred away. He did it here too. He changed my heart towards her. He made me question how lonely she must have been because a trucker's lifestyle was a lonely one and she must have been looking for something to fill that void. He made me realize she wasn't selfish because she put me up for adoption... she cared enough to give me a chance at life... a good one at that. A single mom on the road all the time was no kind of life for a child to be raised. No matter how selfish I thought I could make her out to be, God came back with all these reasons for me to love her for what she did. I think I really do love her too. Even if I were to meet her and she was awful and hateful and wanted nothing to do with me, I would still love her because God has made me that way. Any wounds I might sustain I know He would heal. He always does. Although I fear if I try to find her one day that might be the outcome, a feeling deep inside that's as soft as a whisper tells me that she wants to know me and that she needs to know she is loved. I wonder if she is lonely or if she has settled down and started a family. Sometimes I wonder if she thinks about me or wonders how I turned out. But I always wonder if she filled that void I never felt.... I wonder if she found the love and forgiveness of Jesus.

Lately I have felt something I never before felt being adopted. Isolated. Its easy to belong in a family but there are things about a biological connection you can not have being adopted. Heritage. I have no heritage. I know not of what lineage of people I come from or who I am connected to. I have no idea what kind of health history runs in my bloodline. I believe having my daughter has made this feeling worse for me. I know people don't mean to be hurtful when they say, "Honey, she looks like a Cook. I'm sorry, but she does. She's all Cook." But trust me, it really hurts when you already feel isolated... like you don't belong anywhere. I'm glad Alexa Grace has that though, she has a heritage... she looks like she's part of a family. I love my in-laws and I love that Alexa Grace is part of such a wonderful family that adores her. The icing on the cake though is when people think my sis in law is my daughter's mother. It makes the isolation so much more painful... like I have no connection to anyone, not even my daughter. I know this is all lies from the enemy though. She may be mine by blood and look nothing like me but she is all God's in the end. It doesn't matter who she looks like because in the end I am just blessed with the opportunity to raise her with the time on Earth that I have with her. God created her and He has already spoken for her and that is all that truly matters.

Now the disclaimer, I have only ever shared these feelings with my husband so this is the very essence of transparency. This in no way reflects ill feelings to anyone mentioned in this blog it is strictly just a view into the heart, feelings and mind of an adopted. I wanted to share my view on things... the "daily" struggles I face being adopted and the aspect that I am human... no matter how confident I seem, comfortable in my skin, satisfied with who I am and what family is to me, I still struggle with insecurities like everyone else. I must also add... I have felt this way but no longer feel isolated in the sense I mentioned in the above paragraph... and in no way has my family (immediate, extended or married into) made me feel these things by anything they did or did not do. These are just internal things I believe any adopted person struggles with and faces at sometime in their life.

Through all the struggles, especially lately with isolation and heritage, I know I am God's and I am a part of His family. He has adopted us all and loves us just as my parents love me. He doesn't care what our heritage is or what kind of background we come from. We are all His children and He loves us deeply. I will always belong to Him and so I will always belong somewhere and in God's family we all look different but are part of the same family. I will never be alone. I will always belong. Jesus was sent to cleanse us of our sins and to welcome us home into God's family. All you have to do is accept the grace He has provided.

Being adopted also fuels my adamite stance of Pro-life. I do not believe that because it is your body that you have the right to end the life growing in it. You never know who that child growing in you may become and how they may change the world. I am so thankful my biological mom chose life for me. I have had plenty of heartache, pain and struggles in my lifetime but I am so glad I have been given the ability to live through them and experience them. I also know how important it is to be adopted... to feel like you belong to a family and to feel loved. I plan on adopting some day and am eager to see how God develops our family.