My Victory/Identity Anthem – “This Is Me”

If you haven’t seen The Greatest Showman yet, you should.  It’s a beautiful movie that hits all my criteria:  Great acting, great music, a moving story, a meaningful message, and something that can be watched with my kids.

download.jpg

The story is about P.T. Barnum, the man who started the first circus.  He enlists a band of society’s outcasts, and they form their own sort of family; they understand each other’s scars and come together to support and love each other.

Barnum then gets caught up in his fame, and the pride sets in.  He shuns his loyal troop at a fancy party because he doesn’t want to be associated with this group of outcasts in front of his hoity-toity friends.

The bearded lady then responds with an absolutely stunning musical number, and it resonated with me BIG TIME.  I regularly rock out to this song; it’s my victory anthem.  Check it out.

Here are the lyrics, and here’s the YouTube video.

I am not a stranger to the dark
Hide away, they say
‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one’ll love you as you are
But I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me
Another round of bullets hits my skin
Well, fire away ’cause today, I won’t let the shame sink in
We are bursting through the barricades and
Reaching for the sun (we are warriors)
Yeah, that’s what we’ve become (yeah, that’s what we’ve become)
I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me
This is me
and I know that I deserve your love
(Oh-oh-oh-oh) ’cause there’s nothing I’m not worthy of
(Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh, oh)
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
This is brave, this is proof
This is who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come (look out ’cause here I come)
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum (marching on, marching, marching on)
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I’m gonna send a flood
Gonna drown them out
Oh
This is me

Is Adoption God’s Plan?

girl-3422711__340.jpg

A favourite past time of Christians is to gloss over hard things by declaring that these things are “God’s plan”.  Adoption – and all the loss, the grief, the trauma, the separation, and the damage – is no exception.

So is it true?  Is adoption God’s plan?

I really don’t believe it is.

I don’t believe it was God’s plan for my first mother to be alone and pregnant for the second time when she was only 18.  I don’t believe it was God’s plan that she was born into a family of addiction, raised in foster homes, and then learned to fend for herself at a mere 16 years old.

I don’t believe it was God’s plan for me to separated from my mother and my older sister. I don’t believe God is in the business of broken families.

I don’t believe it was God’s plan for someone to step up to take a baby, but leave a mother alone and wounded – so they could fill their own needs. I don’t believe He is okay with adopters benefiting from a young mother going through a crisis.

I don’t believe it was God’s plan for me to be adopted by parents that would neglect and emotionally abuse me.  I don’t believe it was His plan that I grow up as a lonely little girl, seeking the love and belonging I desperately needed, and having emotional damage that would never be acknowledged or tended to by my adoptive parents.

No.

I believe God’s plan is for every last one of his children to be born into families where love and grace abound, and where they are nurtured and cherished.  I believe God is in the business of people and families being whole.

“But that’s not reality, though.”

Duh.

Here’s a newsflash:  Not everything that happens in this world is “God’s plan”.  In fact, most of it is not.  So why do we call these things “God’s doings”?  Are we really so simple that we can’t accept the great chasm that sometimes exists between our circumstances and God’s perfect will?

Just because it sounds nice and may feel good to believe that adoption is “God’s plan”, doesn’t make it true.  It’s a lie.  And it’s a harmful lie.  I’ve had many people tell me that being adopted was part of His design for me.  I don’t buy it.  Why would His plan for one person be to grow up in a loving, secure home with their biological family, and His plan for me to begin with loss and trauma?  God does not dole out good fortune to one person and less-than-ideal fortune to another; that would make Him a sick and twisted puppet master.  I know it is not in His character to author harm for any of us.

Part of the enemy’s scheme is to convince us that God is the creator of our pain and hardship to turn us away from Him.  The enemy doesn’t have to go any further than finding religious Christians and churches to spread this lie on his behalf.  It’s sick and demonic, but it’s brilliant marketing on his part.  Who better to get to spread his lies than than God’s kids themselves?

And there’s no shortage of religious Christians who will line up to spout this garbage and teach it freely.  Had a miscarriage?  “Well, God’s ways are mysterious, but He must have some plan for you in it.”  You were diagnosed with cancer?  “God wants you to learn through your suffering.”  (*BARF*)  That theology is a lie from the pit of hell and from the mouth of the enemy himself.  God gives us life, and life abundant; He gives us hope, and a future.  It is the enemy who steals, kills, and destroys (John 10:10).  Don’t believe a demonically-inspired theology that will inevitably harden your heart and turn you away from the One Person who can truly help you.  Because that is what that theology and the spirit behind it intends to do.

Adoption was never God’s plan for ANY of his children.  And just think of the damage it causes to the heart of an adopted child to tell them that God wanted this to happen.  That God authored the hurt, the trauma, the grief, and all that goes along with it.  Think about it again:  Why would we tell adopted children that God wanted this for them?

If you were adopted, hear this again:  Adoption, and all the pain and hurt it causes, WAS NOT GOD’S PERFECT PLAN FOR YOU.

He doesn’t hurt us just to turn around and heal us.  He doesn’t harm us then expect us to come running to His arms.  Doctors don’t break our arm and then want to fix it – they would get charged for that, right?  They’re not that stupid or twisted, so why do we think God is?  (Which seems intuitively obvious, yet much Christian theology teaches this mixed-up, harm-then-heal theology.)

So where does God play a role in adoption, then?

He is the healer and redeemer.  He is the one waiting to redeem all the damage done by adoption.  He is the one who wants to help pick up the pieces, while he shakes His head over what messes we humans make of things when left to our own devices.  He is the one who mends what was broken.

He is the one who took my shattered, orphaned soul, and tenderly pieced it back together.

He is the one who has been showing me what perfect Love is and what it looks and feels like.

He is the one who whispers to me, “I never meant for you to get hurt” and draws me into His arms, the same way we do for our kids when they experience an emotional blow at the hands of another human.

He is the Perfect Parent who has never and WILL never leave me nor forsake me.  He is both mother and father, filling in the gaps and lesions I had in my heart.

He didn’t author my adoption.  Because if He did, that means that He authored my mother’s wounds, my abandonment, a life of psychological abuse from a narcissistic family system, and the fact that I will never be part of a “normal” family.

No.

He authored my redemption, when I gave Him permission.

And He wants to author yours, too.  Whatever brokenness you’ve experienced.

Please, let’s stop giving the enemy free advertising by spreading his lies that make God the bad guy, turning people away from Him; instead, let’s learn God’s truth and spread that, so that people can be drawn in by His love.

God is the good guy.  He is in my story, and He wants to be in yours too.

Adoption is not His plan.  But healing, redemption, freedom, truth, and hope?  Those are exactly His plan, which He is just waiting to carry out in each of us, if we let Him.

The Heart Behind our Parenting Opinions – and Why It Matters

Today, with social media, it’s not uncommon to know another parent’s opinions but to know nothing of the heart behind it.  We read about other moms’ passions as we scroll past on our Facebook newsfeed, but the disconnection from her heart and her story makes her passions easy to dismiss and even easier to judge.

download.jpg

Every parent has an area of passion when it comes to parenting; a mountain they are willing to die on, so to speak.

For some, it may be car seat safety.  For others, it could be limiting screen time.  Perhaps a friend of yours is adamant their children remain gluten-free, and maybe your neighbour down the way is equally as adamant that kids never climb slides.

Being a parent is very different today than it was 30 years ago when our parents were raising us; it’s not because they had less concerns, but because they didn’t have social media.  In those days, the only way you knew another mom’s opinions about parenting, was because she was someone who was present in your world; she was someone who you had over for coffee, or met through church, or had children at the same school as yours.  You heard her thoughts and ideas directly from her, and they were directly connected to her heart and her past experiences.   You knew and understood her and her experiences alongside knowing the parenting mountains she would die on.

Today, with social media, it’s not uncommon to know another parent’s opinions but to know nothing of the heart behind it.  Which, I believe, is why it’s so easy to get into the judgement game.  We all do it.

For example:  The thing I am probably the most passionate about when it comes to my parenting is what I am putting in my kids’ bodies.  Anyone who is friends with me on social media will know that I somewhat regularly share about current findings about what is good for our bodies and what isn’t, and I’m not a believer in conventional medicine.  But what you don’t know when you see my posts is the WHY behind my passion.

A few years ago, shortly after weaning my youngest child (she’s now 4), I had a major health crash.  I all of a sudden was hit with insane insomnia (and I never struggle with sleep), I had no appetite and lost weight, and just felt off.  The doctor shrugged and said I must have postpartum depression, because he couldn’t explain why an otherwise-healthy woman in child-bearing years would be experiencing these symptoms.  I told him I didn’t feel depressed or down, except maybe being concerned about why I was feeling this way.  I felt like this for a few months before seeking out some alternative health advice.  I was told I had a hormonal imbalance (they weren’t balancing themselves out after weaning) as well as lots of gut inflammation.  Long story short, I changed my diet (removed processed foods, decreased my gluten/dairy/sugar intake, and ate more whole foods), and felt great 6 months after the “crash”.  I’ve experienced first hand how food played a major role in both the cause of the terrible feeling, as well as the healing and recovery.  That’s a big reason I’m so passionate about what goes into our bodies.

Another “why” to my passion for healthy eating, is because shortly after my episode of not feeling well, we started noticing some strange behaviour in our one son.  He couldn’t walk more than a block without crying that his legs hurt.  He had no energy, was often grumpy, started developing allergies, and was completely insane if he had sugar.  I sought out medical advice just to cover my bases, but again – they had nothing to say about it.  This kid would have ended up on Ritalin if we had continued with that route.  Instead, we knew that outward symptoms are just a sign of inward issues.  And sure enough, with some help of a naturopath and some diet changes, we saw HUGE changes.  Other people saw the changes, too.  He started having energy.  He was calmer and happier.  He stopped wetting the bed.  His eyes were bright again.  All changes that came when we started taking crap out of his diet, and putting good stuff in.  His behaviour can still be affected by sugar and dyes, so we limit those as much as we can (but also let him be a kid as much as we can).  Anyone who has seen their child act like a drunken, angry fool simply because of what was put in his body has to start questioning if those things should be going into any of our bodies.  I sure did, anyways.

On the outside, maybe all you see is a health-obsessed mom who doesn’t know how to let her kids have some fun.  Maybe you roll your eyes because I don’t let my kids have Halloween candy, and you think I’m controlling.  Or maybe you think I’m ill-advised and jump on whatever health bandwagon comes my way.  It’s okay, you probably didn’t know my story.  Because we usually don’t, and so instead we judge.  We didn’t hear the story from our fellow mom as we sat on the park bench while our kids played; we read it as we scrolled past on our Facebook newsfeed, and the disconnection from another mom’s story makes her passions easy to dismiss and even easier to judge.

So here’s the thing I want to remember:  That mom that’s obsessed with car seat safety? Maybe she was in a car accident as a teenager.  That neighbour who never lets her kids watch movies? Maybe her only childhood memory of her mom is the back of her head while she watched daytime television all day.  That friend who won’t let her 10 year-old walk to the park alone?  Maybe she was sexually abused by her friend’s older brother under a playground structure when she was a child.  That mom from school who won’t let her kid touch food that’s not organic?  Maybe her dad died from a brain tumour and she can’t stand the thought of putting chemicals in her kids’ bodies.

And also, I want to be okay to own the reasons why my passions are what they are, but understand they don’t need to be other peoples’ passions.  I might be really adamant about limiting sugar, but you don’t need to be.  You might be really into keeping your child rear-facing until they’re 3, but I don’t need to be.

So even when I don’t hear the stories behind the passion, even if I might never know the “why” that drives it, I really want to learn to give grace.  I want live with the assumption that we all have reasons/experiences/beliefs that drive us to make the decisions we do as parents. And those things aren’t wrong, they’re just different.  I want to give more of this grace, and I’d like to receive it, too.  (But I’m pretty sure I know which of those needs to come first. 🙂 )

So what is your parenting “mountain” that maybe no one else understands?  And what is your “why”?