So here is our wah wah baby story about hosting. I don’t really want to share, because it’s kind of embarrassing, but it ends well, in spite of me.
First, let me back up. To when we were younger and living in a tiny apartment that was subsidized by the city. All new teachers were laid off in California, myself included, but I didn’t mind as we lived in love with our new baby in our tiny spot by the beach. When God first lead us to adopt an older child, she was 9. “Cool!!” We thought, “Great idea!” We just started Dave Ramsey and Dave Ramsied our debt and had gathered a very meager (but not to us!) savings. So we looked into what this whole ‘adoption’ thing entailed, and our eyes bugged. “Do they mean that in USD? BEcause we didn’t have 8 hundred billion dollars!! (<—that’s an exaggeration, but at the time it didn’t feel like it)
So we wah wah babied and were pretty sure we had to back out, but God was being super persistent. The only edge we had in this situation were the few experiences we both had in our lives where we had nothing but everything because we were with God, and nothing compares with it in all other life experiences; missions trips, Urbana, etc. So the idea of giving up everything for God wasn’t as scary as it might have been otherwise, not completely blind faith in a sense. We felt a mix of excitement, yet still forlorn at the unknown and potential loss.
In fact, the money wasn’t too scary, we didn’t have all that much to loose, it was just daunting. We were more afraid of losing people and friends within our community, in that we felt vulnerable.
Fast forward to actually moving, stepping through the adoption process, all encompassing, uncharted. We offered what we needed to God to pursue what He would have for us, and in return He was present, providing, good, encouraging. There were so many specific things God provided to us to the exact time and detail it left our mouths open, but deeper and more importantly, he brought to us things more cherished than what we thought we were giving up.
During and since this experience, when people would approach me with the desires God had lodged in their heart, splattered with their fears woven around the edges and through the center, I identified with those fears, nodded my head, they were mine as well. “Trust and step, it’s worth it, don’t clutch due to fear, but open your hands, your heart, God has it for you, the best. Life abundant, but in the most real way… Easy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…”
I told them, I meant it.
We thought about hosting this past summer, started pursuing, but knew it wasn’t the right time. We prayed for this winter hosting, and felt a leading this time.
We committed to a little girl, “It’s like nothin’!” we felt, since we had just completed a lengthly, expensive adoption from Russia. “Hosting, so short, mere dollars compared to adoption…” we smiled as we signed the electronic dotted line.
Anyways, here is where the story changes.
I started getting this bad attitude about it after we committed. It crept into my heart, circling around the money. After our adoption, we continued living way below our means, and saved money up.
Then, my mind wandered. I started thinking about all the things I could buy with the hosting money instead of using it for hosting. But not in a decisive way, in an inward, increasingly bitter way. I was able to label it; materialistic. And I felt it’s effect; draining. But I couldn’t stop.
The two broken pieces of carpet in the boys’ room, which I had never taken notice of for the entire two years of living here, suddenly became thorns in my side, assaulting my eyes and well-being each time I entered the room.
“I should be able to fix that if I want…” I grumbled. I reflected on my attitude during our adoption, ignorant of these broken pieces of carpet, like they didn’t exist. Not finding fault in a darn thing actually, appreciating everything since I knew there wasn’t a darn thing I could do about it anyway. Ignorance.
“I could send my boys to some fancy preschool if I wanted to!” I realized in annoyance. I didn’t share my feelings with others, but I felt it. I started feeling for signs if Andrew wanted to back out too, so I could agree. Pounce, really.
Then, that next week at BSF every verse we went over, was about not focusing on your life now, or on material things, but on things eternal, like love and people and God. I heard, but it didn’t permeate. “This is a good reminder…” I thought, but it didn’t sink into my heart, which I thought odd, but I wasn’t too sad about. I held onto my hard heart. I felt my annoyance, and still knew it was my materialism, its just that it felt so justified.
In my group, we read stuff like this, it was rough, even though I still felt hard hearted;
Do not store up riches for yourselves here on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and robbers break in and steal. 20 Instead, store up riches for yourselves in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and robbers cannot break in and steal. 21 For your heart will always be where your riches are. mat 6/19-21
Yeah, well, i knew where my heart was. In some pit of self pity and desire for things that I was actually pretty sure would satisfy me; to the tune of new curtains and fixed carpet, among other things. No really, I knew i would be happy with them, seriously, I am SERIOUS! It was all i could think about, time was just passing until I got them…
who was I?
My discussion group is a bunch of people I don’t really know outside of bsf, then the last question landed on me. “How does ‘the world’ put an unhealthy value on ‘things.’
And so I answered honestly, since I don’t actually know these people. “I know we are supposed to comment on other people, but this is about me. God called us to this great thing, and my heart isn’t in it. I am glad we said yes, because somewhere in my muscle memory, i know things like, God is good, and serving him and others is the ultimate good, but I am feeling very…very…materialistic,” I spat out, shocked at this word that I would never previously use to describe myself. I used to delight in holding lightly to ‘things’ while embracing deeper realities. But there it was hanging in the air in front of all these Jesus lovers, and I didn’t care. That’s where I was.
I sat with my friends during lecture, many of whom are hosting and it was truth after truth that was exactly what I needed. I looked at my friend, “I needed this today, about the hosting…”
“Me too…” she told me, and I sensed something in her, too. Sometimes pursuing things of God can have a measure of warfare.
So then I told her my nasty heart. And she told me it was hard for her too. “Lame American Christian high fives! At least we still said yes, and we still haven’t backed out!”
To top it off, I didn’t even feel comfortable fundraising or sharing our fundraising stuff with anyone. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I shared mutual friends with people fundraising for the first time, and we had just done all that last year…more wah wah baby time. Whatever, don’t judge me, it was a real, real heavy thing on my shoulders for a while.
It was heavier on my shoulders, materialism, than it would have been if we hadn’t trusted God completely with the adoption so recently, felt him so completely, permeating every area of our life because we had said yes. Living life close to God is abundant, and anything less, feels lame, burdensome, depressing. And it was heavy on me. Like coming home to work after vacation, eating a crappy meal after healthy living for so long.
It was then that I decided to make a conscious choice, not based on my negative feelings. I read some more of Matthew, and identified with it, chose to believe it again–or no, just chose to do it again. This was my choice, and I was choosing it.
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.” -Jesus, up on the hill.
“Andrew,” I came to him, feeling softer, but still not emotionally connected to the cause, “I’m thinking we can’t fundraise. We just have to support all our friends hosting, and if we just end up with nothing, then that’s what we got into. He agreed.
Looking back, this ‘turning point’ was not even surrender to God yet, but surrender from myself. It wasn’t a proclamation to faith in Him, but just at least getting ourselves out of the way.
A couple weeks later, we were fully funded. So were all 5 of our friend at our church who are hosting orphans, many for the first time. Everyone got more than they needed, their fundraising sites taken down, and the extra given to other families fundraising to host from elsewhere.
Everyone. All of us. Even us.
We go out for girls nights, and just revel in it, and this time, I have people to share it with! “God is good, right!?” And we all share about the better things God brought to us, through just committing, before the kids are even here.
I could have saved myself a whole lotta crappy feelings had I just remembered, you know, about God.
Remembered that we are blessed when we care. That we are always more blessed, in more ways than we could have blessed ourselves when we chose to bless others.
And now, here we are, and we can’t wait! Like, we are back to the genuine, real excitement, and joy we had when we first signed up. Also, my mom got me curtains, earlier this month.
The carpet isn’t that bad, actually. I don’t even notice it anymore. And I feel myself again, nerding out on the joys of life, the goodness of God, wanting His word so I can know Him better.
The secret is that everything is backwards. Seeking for yourself joys that only God can bring don’t satisfy. Seeking God does, then He brings whatever it is you need.
Everything is going to be ok, we are ok, we are actually doing great. Our kids are doing great, like, amazing. Sometimes, I get bashful saying things like that, like people might think we are bragging, but why down play the goodness and healing happening all because of the Lord? Life with these people, my kids and my community is truly a gift, a joy and a blessing I couldn’t have made on my own.
I guess, there are still times I just need to grow up. And I am okay with that, as long as God’s got patience with me 🙂
In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you. matt 5/48