Monday, November 11, 2013

In honor of National Adoption Month, Introduction


In honor of National Adoption Month, my blog will feature the first few chapters of my book during the month of November. 


                            Introduction


When I started writing this manuscript ten years ago, I didn't know it would grow into a real book. I began recording the events of this story to preserve them from the black hole of my middle-aged memory. Before I knew how it happened, I was typing like one obsessed, sometimes being yanked out of bed at night with new insights, new perspectives of the story I was living. Seemingly unrelated ideas merged together in a stream of enlightened connectedness. At times it seemed as if I were simply typing dictation, as if I were the ghostwriter conveying the story God was telling me—no pressure there!



Years ago, Mother Teresa said, “I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.” Maybe God wants each of us to hold our little pencils and write love letters. This book is not really my story, nor is it Roma’s story. It is one example of God’s many love letters. I hope I have done this one justice.Most people have read or heard the “Love” passage found in the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians. It is often read at weddings, as it was at my own, but the lovely verses cannot truly change our lives until they are put into practice. The love-in-action part is hard.

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

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. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”  (NIV)
Someone once suggested that we start at the “Love is patient” part and substitute our names for “love.” I tried it: “Debbie is patient, Debbie is kind, Debbie does not envy, nor boast, nor is proud.” I couldn't say any of it with a straight face—not about this Debbie!

I can more easily identify with the beginning of the passage: I have often been a clanging cymbal. I can speak out for the disadvantaged people of the world—as long as they remain on the other side of the world, or at least outside my personal realm. I can give to the poor—as long as the poor do not move into my house.

Love is altogether different. Love has the potential to break my heart. Love leaves me vulnerable and exposed. Love is total surrender. God wants total surrender. God wants my eyes on Him following Him into places I cannot go by myself. Only when we totally surrender can He produce in us something so beyond what is humanly possible.
I can relate to Saint Peter who, like me, had experiences of unfathomable faith followed by paralyzing panic. “Get out of the boat and follow me,” Jesus coaxed while walking on water. Peter stepped out onto the water and walked! But he immediately took his eyes off Jesus and sank, flailing faithlessly. He was an eye witness to Jesus’ miraculous works, but how quickly he forgot what Jesus could do. Surely Peter should have been able to trust Jesus’ power. Surely Peter more so than I.

I have also walked in the footsteps of doubting Thomas. In fact, the Bible is full of people with checkered spiritual pasts like my own. Jonah whined because he didn't want to help God save the Ninevites; Moses whined because he wanted God to send someone else to rescue the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. And I whine because obedience is sometimes too hard. If God was able to use these reluctant members of the Saints Hall of Fame who vacillated in their faith, then maybe he can use me too.

God has taught me lessons about love during this adventure. Love is indeed costly. Yet, love brings unparalleled joy, and love is the only thing that can heal a broken heart and mend a shattered life.

As you read, I hope you will imagine yourself walking in my shoes. My journey into faith, hope, and love certainly has had its peaks and valleys, but according to the Bible, I am in excellent company. Read Chapter ibe

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“Never be frightened at your own faint-heartedness in attaining love . . . for love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams. Love in dreams is greedy for immediate action, rapidly performed and in the sight of all. But active love is labor and fortitude . . . just when you see with horror that in spite of all your efforts you are getting farther from your goal instead of nearer to it—at that very moment I predict that you will reach it and behold clearly the miraculous power of the Lord who has been all the time loving and mysteriously guiding you.”

                             Fyodor Dostoevsky,                                                         The Brothers Karamazov