A number of friends have asked us how things are going with the adoption process. Since we received our referral in July, we’ve been in a holding pattern. We’ll need to travel to Ethiopia for a court date but court has been closed in August and September. We expect, though, within the next week or so we’ll get a call assigning us a date and Suzanne and I will then likely travel sometime later in October. That’s our best guess.
This intermission, though, has given me time to reflect. When people learn or ask about our adoption, responses vary from “That’s awesome!” to “Wow, you guys are so brave–I could never do that” to “Are you sure? That sounds crazy.” There’s a wide gray swath on the continuum between bravery and foolishness; most days, I’m in that gray area.
Our church is going through a series on love and, as a congregation, we’re reading Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God. In the foreword, musician Chris Tomlin writes:
Crazy Love is the perfect title for this book. When Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” he responded with “Love.”
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt 22.37-40)
As Francis so brilliantly illustrates, the life Jesus calls us to is absolute craziness to the world. Sure, it’s fine and politically correct to believe in God, but to really love Him is a whole different story. Yeah, it’s nice and generous to give to the needy at Christmas or after some disaster, but to sacrifice your own comfort and welfare for another may look like madness to a safe and undisturbed world.
As I look back, our entire journey as a family has involved some manner of madness at each step. We had to undergo fertility treatments to have our first child and there was a real possibility that we could have had multiples. Instead, Erin was born eight weeks premature and Suzanne nearly died in the process.
The second and third pregnancies did not go well either–in both instances, Suzanne was debilitatingly sick for months. When we came to the hospital for delivery each time, the nurses remembered us from our first experience and looked at us with shock: “Are you crazy?” During that last pregnancy, Suzanne’s mom stayed with us for seven weeks. I was working full-time and in grad school and taking care of our other two children; we would not have survived that time without her help. Do we regret the journey? Of course not and we have three wonderful children.
Now we stand on the doorstep of inviting two more children into our lives, children from another mother on the other side of the world. We have not entered into this on a whim. Suzanne and I prayed through the fall of 2008 for God’s direction about this decision. We then spent nine months completing paperwork, being interviewed by social workers, attending training, reading books, being scrutinized by state, federal, and international governments. We will invite these two children into our not-so-very-big home on our not-so-very-big income. We are giving up our established routines and rhythms and some of the few comforts that we enjoy to stretch our lives and budget further. There are undoubtedly challenges in front of us that we can’t imagine. Frankly, it doesn’t make sense for us to adopt.
But we believe that the love of God compels us. I’m aware of how unlovable I can be, and even then I fail to grasp the depth of my own darkness. And yet God reaches into that darkness at tremendous cost to Himself and gives me hope and a future. Crazy–that’s the kind of love that God has for us. It’s a love that defies common sense and reason. When that kind of love embraces a person, it’s not uncommon for unusual decisions to follow.
In the film As Good As It Gets, Jack Nicholson portrays Melvin Udall, a self-absorbed obsessive-compulsive misanthrope who also happens to be a best-selling writer of romance novels (go figure). In one scene he dismissively tells a visitor to his apartment, “Sell crazy someplace else, we’re all stocked up here.” When it comes to crazy love, though, there’s always more room somewhere on the shelf.
Do our plans to adopt make sense? No–I readily admit that and can’t justify our decision. Do we know that adopting is risky, that we can’t predict how our new children will fit into our family? You bet, and at times this is scary. Seriously: who goes around looking for ways to make their lives more complex, forgoing what is known and safe and comfortable? I don’t. But in this case, I think God–who loves us relentlessly–has called us to demonstrate His love in a crazy way. That’s the best explanation I can offer. I trust, however, that if I play my part to the best of my ability, God will be faithful.
Giving in to God’s crazy love is dangerous and will lead you to into an unpredictable, possibly uncomfortable life. What, though, is the alternative? Consider that Jesus was often accused of saying crazy things. On one occasion he told a crowd that if they wanted to be God’s followers, they’d have to eat his flesh and drink his blood. Unsurprisingly, the crowd found this hard to accept and many walked away. When Jesus asked his closest disciples if they were going to leave as well, his friend Peter responded, “Master, to whom would we go? You have the words of real life, eternal life. We’ve already committed ourselves, confident that you are the Holy One of God.” Indeed: to whom would I go?
So, yes, we’re crazy–but only because the love of God is crazier than ours.