I am a selfish person.
I wasn’t born generous. Or kind. Or considerate, really. I wasn’t even raised to be any of those things.
Not a fault of my parents (in case they’re reading), but I grew up watching my family serve at church in kind of a weird, unhealthy way.
The church was in our backyard. We had keys. But serving was more about us than about God.
I had a heart of stone.
A Selfish Life
Serving was singing in the choir every week and going to retreats and Stryper concerts with the youth group. Maybe we did one service day in a less-advantaged neighborhood a few miles from our house once.
Our family sort of helped a single mother and her son while she got started on her recovery from an addiction to pain pills. But she was a “project” and if I’m being brutally honest, looking back, that’s probably how we treated her. (I am really ashamed of that now.)
Missionaries were people that visited the church once in a blue moon and we wrote a check and they went away.
Adoption was what people did when they couldn’t have “their own” kids. A dirty little secret that everyone knew but no one spoke aloud.
It’s no surprise that when I grew up, generosity and compassion were not really natural to me.
God Changes Us
Thankfully, my heart doesn’t belong to me.
God didn’t want me to stay selfish. Instead, He made me a promise.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26
God had better plans for me than tripping around the world just seeing the sights, being a consumer of what the world has to offer.
He used one scared little girl to break my heart and then rebuild it into something far far more amazing than I ever imagined.
God Uses The Unexpected
In the spring of 2006, I saw an article in the newspaper. Seemed harmless enough at the time.
The writer outlined a program that was bringing a group of orphans from Ukraine to the US for a three-week “culture camp.” It included contact information for the coordinator because the program was looking for host homes for the kids to stay. Always up for a new adventure, my husband and I said “that looks like fun.”
If by “fun” we mean “turning our lives upside down like a double-corkscrew roller coaster” then, yeah. That kind of fun.
We had been married for 8 years, and kids were always something that we’d think about “in a couple of years.” We weren’t thinking about kids, and we certainly weren’t thinking about adoption.
A Heart Of Flesh
But in August of 2006, just a week after her twelfth birthday, a terrified girl was sent home with these two strangers carrying a stuffed elephant. That night was weird for all of us, but God knew we would become a family.
And God knew that when we traveled to Ukraine nine months later to adopt Masha, we would meet Lena and become a family of four.
Adoption is not for everyone. It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s not for the inflexible.
But for me…a selfish, career-focused, not-so-compassionate person…adoption has changed my life. And in changing my life, it changed the lives of two not-so-little girls from Eastern Europe.
Has God ever turned your world upside down?
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