Some times, I am an all or nothing kind of person. Other times, I am not. For instance, the other day I found myself in a situation where I had to attend an event, I did not have time to eat prior to leaving the house, and the things being served for dinner at the event were... um... not the best choices for my diet. I had to eat. The event lasted for several hours. It was dinner time, and I was hungry. So, what did I do? I ate small portions. I ate the angel food cake with strawberries and fat free cool whip that I had brought (all the ladies were supposed to bring a dessert) and I chose to cheat by enjoying a very small brownie with chocolate chips and marshmallows on the top. Yum! I made an intentional decision to not be all or nothing with my diet because if I am, I won't stick with it in the end. Know what I mean? If you are curious, the cheating did not hurt me, either. At least, it didn't cause me to gain weight.
On the other hand, there are times when I do adopt an all or nothing attitude. Take the same event for example. It was an adoption event... a support group, and there were case workers, birth mothers who are expecting, past birth mothers, adoptive mothers, and waiting mothers. I've been to quite a few in the past, so this was nothing new to me. The only difference for me this time was that I have come to a place a where... how can I say it?... the outcome does not concern me as much as it used to. Not to say that I don't care because I do. I just know that God will work out His ultimate plan when He chooses. So, I approached this particular event with a bit of a different attitude. I guess I figured that I had nothing to lose. The topic of discussion for the evening was the labels we all have as either birth mothers or adoptive mothers and the way those labels affect our identity and sense of self. A few former birth mothers (not that they aren't birth mothers now, but you know what I mean) contributed a lot to the conversation, and then the facilitator asked if any waiting moms had anything they would like to say. I can't remember ever sharing in such an on-the-spot kind of way at any of the past events, but like I said before, this time I felt like I had nothing to lose. So, I spoke up. I shared how I felt about the label that I have, the literal and emotional process it has taken me through, and even how I feel like I am labeled by the birth mothers who look at our album. I did not say it in a negative way. Simply a matter-of-fact way that expressed my feelings. Like, how we are seen by the birth mothers on the basis of our income, our health, our habits, or our choice of pets. How they label us according to whether or not those characteristics fit in with their idea of the family with whom they would like to entrust their child. I hope I am coming through loud and clear here. I am not saying that their decision is wrong. I am not even saying that they have some obligation to the adoptive parents to guard how they make us feel. They don't! I am simply saying that it is sometimes difficult to hear and to assimilate their input into our lives without taking it personally. I understand that it is not intended in a personal way. It does, however, speak to the very deepest and personal areas of our lives.
The reaction of the birth mothers to my comments was... interesting... surprising... encouraging... kind of funny. Strange funny. Not haha funny. One former birth mother, in particular, commented that no one, a waiting or adoptive mother, that is, had ever been that honest with them before. Until now, I guess, 'cause you know me. I am honest. I don't hold anything back. I'm kind of all or nothing when it comes to things like that. It was nice for me to identify with the birth mothers in a small way that night. They feel out of control in their situation, and so do I. That same birth mother also commented that I had really touched her with what I had shared, and that was very connecting for me. You see, we're not on opposing sides. We don't have to be afraid of one another. We just have to try to understand. We are all fallen human beings. We are all (at least from what I could tell of those in the room) children of God. We all have feelings. We all have joy. We all have hurt. It is not a matter of who is right or wrong or who is in control. It is simply those who God has brought together to accomplish His purpose in their lives.
So, you see, my earlier choice to cheat on my diet that night... to not be all or nothing did not really hurt me. My choice to speak up in the group... to be all or nothing in my communication with those present benefited me with the compassion and understanding of others. It happens both ways in my life. Sometimes all or nothing. Sometimes not, but always intentional and always honest.
I have been thinking about this for the last two days, and I am glad to have it finally down on virtual paper. D.T. and I are sitting in our hotel room right now just waiting to take the shuttle over to the airport to pick up his brother! We are SO excited that he was finally able to get a flight out of Europe. :o)
Oh, and one last thing... I've been off of Diet Coke for 12 days... and still counting!!! Yay me! :o)
Living in His JOY, HOPE, and PEACE...