Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Lot Like Forgiveness

Learning. It's always going on, doesn't stop our whole lives. Though I do think that as adults we have more difficulty learning instead of just repeating the same lessons because we have to actually look for them.

There are experiences in my past that deal with forgiveness. I still have a hard time not harboring negative feelings when wronged, but I have learned some things about forgiveness. Forgiving deep hurt. It's definitely not in the easy category, that's for sure.

When someone has an offense against you that is on the high end of painful and it would be understood by all if you didn't forgive...if you just closed the door on the person who clearly trampled on your "rights" as a human being, it's very painful to extend forgiveness. Sometimes the person doesn't even want or think they need you to forgive them.

The thing is, there are stages and levels of forgiving and in the beginning it's a lot about going through the motions and not feeling it. That's something that people say all the time, but I guess things like that don't become cliche for no reason. When your decision to forgive a person who has hurt you starts, you may not feel like it. You may have to talk those feelings of resentment right out of your mind and you may have to try really hard not to be mean or cry every time you see them. But it does get easier and you do move on and grow as you continue making the choice to forgive. You do start to loose the feelings of hurt. You do start to see the person for who they really are again as opposed to seeing them through the goggles of offense.

I'm learning that love can be a lot like this too. Some people you fall in love with right away. You choose the spouse that you do because they make you feel a certain way. It doesn't usually start out as work and by the time you have to work through any major issues it's usually far enough in that you have built a foundation that you can work on top of. Most people wouldn't marry someone without having "sparks" at this point. I'm sure there are some, but marriage is about "love" and not "duty" these days. When you bring a baby home from the hospital, there are feelings that grow between you and that baby. You fall in love pretty quickly, and while you don't actually choose the child you will be birthing, God has given us a bond that comes from a spawning a little drooler that comes forth from your gene pool. There are even friends that we just click with from the start. Friendships that are easy to cultivate and just happen naturally. Usually with people that have lots of similarities to us that we can relate to well.

But what about the relationships that don't come quite that easy? It seems we are to love all of God's children as we love ourselves, not just the ones that come easy. The socially awkward people that you don't really know how to react or respond to. The neighbor who has the exact opposite opinion on politics or religion from you. The family member that everyone dreads seeing at family visits because they make everyone feel so awkward. These are all people we are called to love as ourselves. Right?

Well, I am not good at that. I am not good at cultivating love.

God gives us situations that force us to work out our issues and learn what we need to learn if we let Him. If we choose to learn the lessons He sets out before us. Ana is my "love child". (I know that means something different, but who cares.)

I don't love Gumby like I love Curly and Smiles yet. That's just the truth. When she is being naughty, it's easier for me to feel upset with her quicker. She teaches me patience. When she cries, it doesn't bring out maternal feelings as often. I just want her to stop. I am her mother anyway. When her diaper is filled with solids, it often makes me feel ill (she still has institutional smelling diapers). I change her diaper anyway, just like I would Smiles. I have no choice but to go through the motions most of the time. Sometimes I fail her. I am not the perfect mother to any of our children. I loose my temper and I mess things up. But everyday I am growing just like them.

While my heart and thoughts may differ still, the actions are made the same anyway. I act toward her as I would the others as much as I can. Messing up this time doesn't mean that I have to give up for next time. I can't give up. She is here to stay. She is my daughter matter how long it takes for me to feel that way.

And you know what? While I grow in my patience and while I practice love in those times that I really don't want to, love grows. Just like when I walk through the motions of forgiveness and eventually start to feel like I've forgiven...when I walk through the motions of love when I don't feel it, real love starts to grow too.


Josette said...

What a beautifully written post, so honest. Truly, love is action. I remember in a Bible study the first time someone said that, it didn't sound right, it sounded foreign. Often though, in loving others, like you said, the actions come first and the emotions follow. Beautifully said.

Amelia said...

I'm glad that you're not afraid of honesty. Your thoughts on walking through the motions of love remind me so much of what C.S. Lewis wrote about love in "Mere Christianity." So profound, so true. Thank you for the reminder!

Rachel said...

I'm a "lurker" and another mom of an adopted child who has DS. I just wanted to encourage you that your feelings are normal and you WILL get there! I have 3 adopted kids and the feelings of attachment came at different times with each of them. With one child, it took over a year before I really felt like his mom. But, I do feel that way now! You're doing just the right things and in time it will start to get easier. In the meantime, "fake it 'till you feel it" and you'll get there. Love to you and your family. ~Rachel

Laurel said...

Yes ... very normal feelings when you have adopted.

Thanks for you honesty.


Andy and Ellen Stumbo said...

I know exactly how you feel! We are there too :)

And, maybe you have heard this already, but "orphanage" smelling diapers are usually caused by parasites. We are checking for all sorts of parasites as MANY kids from Ukranian orphanages come with them. FYI

Pure Mommy Extract said...

All her tests for parasites came back negative. Really, they are improving in's just a process and slowly gets better. Uggh =(

Thanks for checking to make sure we had done it though. It would be terrible if we didn't know to check and she was living with little friends =).

Bethany said...

Nika was negative for parasites too, but we just found out she is positive for h-pylori (spelled?) and I'm wondering if that can cause a weird smell. I would say Nika has a distinct smell too.

Tara said...

just wanted to say that I love your blog and really enjoyed following your journey to Ana. I loved this post and I am still having the same "struggles" and we've had our daughter home (from China) for almost 2 years. I just read this today on a friend's blog and wanted to pass it on. It may or may not apply to your specific situation, but it does to mine: