Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

Have you Ever Been Hit in the Face?

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I recently told you about our latest adoption. We are making progress. I believe it is going to happen. But right now, it isn’t easy.

The issue has to do with our son’s age. In China, orphans can be adopted up to age 14. Once you turn 14 you are no longer elgible to be adopted. They take your name off the list. Even if a family is 99% of the way there to adopt you.

Our son turns 14 on Jan 13, 2014. And not everything is done yet.

We are very close. We only need two simple things to happen before we can go get him. We need both the Chinese government and the U.S. government to issue two more documents to us. A travel approval and an embassy appointment.

But as one lady we told us this week, “This is the government. Nothing gets done quickly.”

Less than 1 Week

We do have some time remaining. Of course the holidays between now and then don’t help. I’m sure the same lady would tell us how the government doesn’t work on Christmas and New Year’s. And so it seems it is better to get there sooner and not later.

Actually the ideal date for us to adopt him is a week from Monday, before the holiday mess. Which means that the ideal time for us to leave is this coming Thursday. Less than one week away.

But that decision can’t be made for certain. Not yet. We are planning to leave but we can’t make any definite plans. We are planning to be gone but we don’t know for sure when and how long.

We are planning to plan.

I Want to Make a Plan

Most would say that I don’t get my feathers ruffled easily. As a surgeon I have seen and done things that were very intense. I’ve made some big decisions quickly. And these decisions carried immense consequences. Rarely do things get to me.

But this process of waiting and not knowing and wondering and not being able to plan isn’t agreeing with me. There are many questions I don’t know the answer to. When will we leave? When will we come back? How much will this cost?

I want to plan, but I can’t. I want to know what’s coming next, but I don’t.

The Best Laid Plans…

I called a friend early this week to update him on what was going on. I told him things were getting to me. I was having some trouble sleeping. I am waking up at 4:30am without an alarm. This is completely messed up.

He laughed. He reassured me that things would be fine. It will work out. And one day, the craziness of all this mess won’t matter. It is okay not to have a plan right now.

And then he told me a quote about making plans by former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson:

Everybody has a plan, until they get hit in the face.

When the Room Starts Spinning

I can only imagine what it must be like to get hit in the face in a boxing match. You have developed a strategy for how you want the fight to go. You studied the other guy and believe you know what you need to do to win.

And everything is going great, until SMACK! You didn’t see that one coming.

The other guy lands a punch square to your face. All of a sudden, your world starts spinning. Your brain is sloshing around inside of your thick, but not thick enough, skull. You try to take a step, but the ground isn’t where you thought it would be. When you look around, not only do you see two of everything, nothing is standing still.

The world, all of a sudden, isn’t the same as when you had a plan. Everything has changed. Like a stuffed teddy bear left at grandma’s house, your plan is useless. It doesn’t matter. It can’t help you at all.

Your security blanked called your plan is gone. And you feel lost. Naked. Exposed.

Living a Better Story Means Getting Punched in the Face

I am waiting for the dates I need to have my plan, but I had planned on having those dates by now. I had planned on being certain about when where how and who by now.

And every day I don’t get to make plans, it feels like I’m being punched in the face.

My friend knows what it is like to get punched in the face. I’ve watched him get hit. And he knows what it is like to live a better story. He is in the middle of his own crazy mess right now.

And his point to me was that the two go together.

Living a better story is about getting in the ring. It is about taking the kind of risks that make it impossible to plan. It is about letting go of the things we hold on to, like stuffed teddy bears, that give us a false sense of security and safety.

In every good story, the main character gets punched in the face at some point.

The question isn’t whether or not it is going to happen, because it will. The question is what do you do after you get punched? Do you stay down or do you get back up?

What do you do after you find out your plan is useless?

Have you ever been punched in the face?

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About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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16 Replies

  1. “What do you do after you find out your plan is useless?” Well, it’s always a wake up call that my plan is never the best plan. It reminds me of a quote I heard from Francis Chan once…”You might THINK you have a good plan…but YOU don’t have a universe!” 😉

    I agree, waiting for light to hit the next step is torture! Praying He gives you and your family peace as you wait.

  2. My heart skipped a beat as I read your time frame! I have a hard time wrapping my mind around a world where a future hangs in the balance of weeks, a government, and a birthday. Praying fervently that mercy overcomes and God is faithful to his promise to put lonely ones in families!

  3. It is absolutely insane. If we must, we will go without all the needed approvals. And we will stay as long as it takes. Even if it means not having a plan for when we come back.

  4. Thanks. And I think you are right. Finding peace in these things is good. And finding peace means letting go.

  5. I love the kids, and they are always worth the “stuff” we go through to get them home. The process pretty much stinks though! I’m praying for your family and your sweet boy. Hang in there.

  6. Jeffrey, you are so profound! But remember this – With God, nothing is impossible. All barriers are like sand when you know that you know this adoption is pre-ordained. And another thing to remember; offenses will come, but woe unto them by which they came. Man can’t do anything to stop it. I look forward to reading about your successful conclusion in the next few weeks!

  7. DanKnight

    Yes, in my youth I got punched in the face a few times; more often I was the one doing the punching. But the one I remember more than any of those received or given punches is the one I didn’t give: the fight I didn’t show up for. It changed my life. I was the school yard bully, until that fight I didn’t show up for. After that I was the school coward, and spent my high school years in mediocrity. I’m not advocating school yard fighting or bullying, but hear me when I say, sometimes you’ve got to stay in the fight, even when you know you’ll get beat.

    Jeremy, if time runs out on this, you’ll feel worse than just a punched face; and no amount of others or yourself telling you that “God’s in control” or “everything is possible with God” (as true as though sentiments are), will help soothe the gut-wrench of the loss. At that time, you’ll have to simply “man-up” and hold your wife while the both of you grieve. Life sucks sometimes…that’s the face punch! It isn’t easy nor necessarily “fair” or “right”; it just sucks!

    In the midst of that gut-wrench grieve, remember that you got face-punched because you were in the fight. You were there! You stood up to the plate and engaged the process on behalf of a boy no-one else wanted. Sounds a bit like Christ to me.

    Regardless what happens in the next couple of weeks, know this: You are a man! You’ve stood in the gap for this boy! You’re going to take the punch for him. That, our friend, is both being a man and being Christ!

    Thanks for sharing your story including your pain, with us!

  8. Bunny

    Jeremy…you just get back up because God is with you and He is faithful. He has a plan and you can trust Him! I have 5 kids from China…He is faithful.

  9. Janieannie

    We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9

  10. Thanks for the encouragement and for adopting those 5 kids.

  11. Thanks, Dan. We actually bough airline tickets Friday afternoon, but still aren’t 100% certain we can use them yet.

  12. Thanks for the encouragement.

  13. Lots of “stuff” both in the getting and after the coming home. I appreciate your encouragement.

  14. Raj

    Jeremy, I wish and pray that you get through this scenario with best outcome that you are looking for…

  15. Anonymous

    If you have not yet gotten your congressman involved, I highly suggest it. We were utterly roadblocked on a passport for our internationally adopted child because of some red tape and I put in one call to my congressman and had a passport issued within hours. God speed your journey.

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