July 24, 2013

Why Celebrating Our Progress Is Essential As Adoptees

Years ago I lost about forty pounds and was looking and feeling great. Rocking a bikini at the beach and all that. Emphasis on was. (I'm back to addressing this post-adoption issue again...one of the most challenging that has yet to be overcome.)

Anyone who has ever lost weight doesn’t need to have it explained that it's some of the hardest work you’ll ever do. Back then, I wrote down every bite that went into my mouth and was on the elliptical machine, daily.

Imagine my frustration when quite a number of well- meaning Christian friends and acquaintances said: “Deanna…you look incredible! What an amazing miracle the Lord has done in your life…”

Photo Credit: Howard-f, FlickR

Okkkkkaaaaaaaaaaay. There were no miracles. And, it wasn’t the Lord’s butt on an elliptical machine everyday.

Well, He was there with me. He’s with me everywhere. But it wasn’t His gluteus maximus that needed work, it was mine.  Everything about God is perfect. He doesn't struggle with saggy buttocks or stretch marks.

I really wish it were as easy as saying, “Okay God, firm up my hiney and make it smaller…in Jesus' name, amen...” and poof!

But it doesn’t work that way.

God doesn’t just re-shape butts, thighs or abs without any intervention on our part. I wish He did. I would have already named it, claimed it, blabbed it and grabbed it. I would be in a teeny weeny pink bikini on the beach right now. But instead I'm sitting here writing at my desk wearing pants with Lycra.

Many times people aren’t great at celebrating their hard work, or other people’s accomplishments. A friend of mine recently mentioned that many times churches shy away from celebrating their wins as a group. This is because as Christians, we’ve been taught to deflect absolutely everything to God.  To do anything else may be perceived as attempting to steal His glory. When some people receive compliments instead of simply saying, "thank you," and accepting it humbly, they respond with, "It's all God..." 

Photo Credit: Oras-Al-Kubaisi, Flickr

Truth be told, it's not all you but it's also not all God. If it were all God, everybody would be a success. Because He wants everyone to succeed. But some people don't. 

So in that case, did God fail? No.

If it were easy, effortless, or "all God" -- everybody would achieve. 
The road to the next level is always uphill!

God does give us the power to achieve, to succeed. And, we must cooperate for that to happen. We see examples around us – abundant illustrations – of those who have not cooperated or taken any initiative to move forward. 

It’s like a knife to my heart when I hear people attribute the successes in my life to adoption. I had to work incredibly hard for every success and adoption didn't give me a better life, simply a different one.

I’ve also had to do a tremendous amount of work to move forward with what I’ve gone through the past five months. Nothing came easy. God handed nothing to me on a silver platter. There were no shortcuts and no zaps at the altar. How I wish!! But every step forward  came in putting myself in position to change, and cooperating with the plan set before me. Some days it was (and still is) excruciating work trudging up the emotional mountain that is adoptoworld. 

 How dare someone attribute all this blood, sweat and tears to a God-zap?  

Did God lead, guide and direct me? Oh yes. And, I had to follow, and act upon, and work very hard to arrive at this place. And yet, it’s still not the end of the journey.

There are so many significant losses and trauma associated with adoption, it's important to celebrate our progress every chance we get! 

So I celebrate my hard work and what it took to get somewhere. And the cool thing is, so does God.   

He is for me! 
He celebrates me.

 One of my favorite passages of scripture, Zephaniah 3:17 tells me that he rejoices, delights in, and sings and dances over me. 

So if God celebrates us, why don't we celebrate us?

Photo Credit: Familymwr, FlickR

The story is told of a Christian man who purchased an old run down farm. There were no animals on this farm, for it was not a possibility when he took ownership. The barn was falling down, dilapidated. The farmhouse had many major repairs that were needed, so much so that it was on the verge of being condemned. On the areas up close to the house that should be neatly landscaped, there were weeds everywhere in the flower beds, and grass almost waist high all around the house. It was a mess. 

Over a year’s time, the farmer worked hard to bring the barn not just back to livable condition, but to a place of  surpassing it’s former glory days. Soon, he was able to bring many animals to live on the farm. He renovated the entire farmhouse and it became quite the showplace in itself. The landscaping was absolutely beautiful with weeded flower beds and gorgeous flowering plants contained therein. The grass was neatly cut and a new walkway the farmer created provided a beautiful entrance to what had once been a homestead in ruins.

One day a friend came to visit and took a tour. At the conclusion, he said, “God has done an amazing work with this place.” 

The farmer responded: “You should have seen this farm when God had it all by himself!”  

Moral of the story:  It takes our cooperation for God to do something in our lives.  

Celebrating our progress is not only appropriate, but essential to our health and well being.