I’m typing this from 30,000 feet above the earth as I fly to Denver, Colorado for a one-day conference for foster and adoptive parents, called Spotlight. I was there last year, and it was amazing. Such beautiful people with hearts for the vulnerable children in their city. It’s quite amazing to see. I should say that I’m a bit on cloud 9 after last weekend at The Refresh Conference in Seattle. It’s been a week, and I can’t stop thinking about all we experienced. We absolutely loved our time in the Pacific Northwest with all of the amazing people we call friends and family. We feel this way every year after the conference ends. Yes, it’s that amazing.
Over the past few days, I’ve been thinking about something I shared in one of the sessions I taught last weekend on Saturday morning. It was during the early bird breakfast they offered for foster and adoptive dads. My friend Andrew invited me to share some thoughts with the guys and I accepted. He told me, “It doesn’t have to be anything lengthy. It’s not like a breakout session or keynote. Just write some thoughts down and share with the guys.” Done! I thought. Now, what I would love to tell you was that I woke up on Saturday morning in my hotel room, arose from my bed, gave thanks for another day of life, and spent time refreshing myself (no pun intended) on the 3 full pages of thoughts I had written in the days preceding.
Who am I kidding? You and I both know that’s not what happened. Those of you who know me well are probably shaking your head as you read this. Actually, it went something like this…sat down the night before, pulled out my notebook, with the intention of writing a well thought out, clearly formed, message, that would inspire and encourage the 100 or so guys who would show up the next morning. But after an hour or so of staring at a blank page all I could write were the words, “I didn’t sign up for this!”
Yep, that’s it. Riveting, I know! Then, I turned my light off and went to bed….at 9:30pm….either because I’m over 40 or because my body was still on Indiana time. I’m not sure.
“I didn’t sign up for this!” Not exactly words to build an entire message on, are they? But then something extraordinary happened the next morning when I woke up. I opened my eyes to a dark room. The sun hadn’t begun to make it’s ascent yet. It was 5 am. There in the darkness of my room, the words crossed my mind: “You’re not called into the perfect, you’re called into the messy.” I actually said them out loud…”You’re not called into the perfect, you’re called into the messy.” Foster care and adoption are messy, messy journeys! But, they’re beautiful. Holy cow, that’s it, I thought! I jumped out of bed and began scribbling in my notebook….
“……I didn’t sign up for this!”
“…..this is far from perfect. This is messy. There’s a reason for this!”
“…..if this were perfect, I wouldn’t need Jesus like I do. And I need Him desperately. I wouldn’t experience hope to the depth that I do!”
“…..there’s beauty in the mess. It’s hard to see, but it’s there.”
And then suddenly a thought crossed my mind that nearly knocked me out of my uncomfortable fake leather hotel room chair.
“…..if it weren’t for the mess, I’d never know my amazing children.” Gosh I hate this reality. I hate that tragedy had to happen in order for our family to come together. But oh how thankful I am that it did. We never want to hope for bad things to happen in this world. Never. But how many beautiful things are produced from the smoldering ashes of a broken and damaged world? Think about the forest ravaged by forest fires. Does the vegetation not come back fuller after the devastation? Beautiful things are made from jagged pieces.
If it weren’t for the mess, I’d never know my amazing children.
No, I wasn’t called into a perfect journey. Neither were you. We were called into a very messy, broken one. We’ve been called to battle with our children, against their past, and that is really stinking hard sometimes. But the mess produces massive beauty. The brokenness brings the greatest healing.
The messiness of this world gave us our children.
How are you thankful for the mess? Share with us in the comment section below.