Left Behind

Oh gosh… do you remember that series?  I cringe now, but they used to be one of my favorite books to read!  Such bad theology… and then the plot just went on forever and ever… and ever.  I mean really, how long can you stretch out the end of the world?  Ok, so this post isn’t really about the Left Behind books or end times theology.  But that’s what my title made me think of.

What I really wanted to talk about is the feeling of being left behind by people… people who are currently still present on the planet with you. 😉  I have been feeling this way a lot lately.  And while I know intellectually that it’s important not to compare my life to the lives of my friends and internet acquaintances, it’s so hard to do that in practice!  Sometimes my emotions just get the better of me.

image1 (5)How is it that I can have all these beautiful little children with me every minute of every day and feel like I am somehow lacking something or not doing enough?  That’s a great question, and my answer doesn’t justify my negativity, but perhaps it will help it make more sense.

When we were pregnant with Evie I started researching all kinds of things, and her little life really jump started my crunchiness in a big way.  I didn’t just want to parent the way everyone else did, not because I thought anyone was doing it wrong, but because I wanted to be super intentional about how we raised our children.  I wanted to know why I was doing what I was doing, and it’s been a great exercise, not just for parenting, but for my whole life.

One of the things I found while doing all this research was something called ecological breastfeeding.  I’ve talked about it before; we’ve done it with all our bio kiddos and I wouldn’t change a thing.  But something that has always made me a teency bit sad is the long spacing it provides between children.  For some families this is great, and it’s probably helpful for us too, but it’s been hard for me to accept at times.  I’ve always wanted lots of kids, and my other friends who have decided to be open to as many children as God gives them… well they typically were always pregnant before we were.  They have more children and they’re closer together, and I struggle not to envy that.  It’s ridiculous when I think about it.  As if having children was some kind of race and I was losing!  Wow.  Motherhood is so not about that.  It’s embarrassing to admit how childish I can be sometimes.

And then there’s the adoption, oh boy do I feel left in the dust on that one!  We have several friends that adopted around the same time (or after) we did and I know a few of them who are already going back for more!  I always dreamed we would be one of those families who did multiple adoptions, and started planning our next adoption as soon as our new kiddos were settled (which, of course, wouldn’t take any longer than six months).  But here we are, three years in, and still not planning any adoption any time soon.

Will we ever adopt again?  I hope so.  But I don’t have the answer to that.  Still.  After three years.  And that’s a hard pill to swallow.  It’s so good to see my friends and their strong families and their ability to bring home more sweet children that need families.  It brings me incredible joy.  But that little whisper of “Hey, if you had just done a better job of x, y or z you could be doing more too,” comes in and tries to steal that joy away.  I tell that voice exactly where it can return to… ahem.  But yeah, it hurts.

And then I went to one of my longtime favorite blogs yesterday.  I haven’t read an actual blog in several months (maybe longer?) but since I blogged again it reminded me, and sometimes I like to see how my favorite families are doing.   So I read this post from Adeye (who many of you know), and her family is just doing so amazingly well.  Her sweet lovies, as she calls them, are absolutely blossoming.  And yes, I know it’s the internet.  And yes, I know they have gone through the hard stuff.  And yes, I know I don’t know everything they are going through.  But when I see so much progress, I realize that our kids just haven’t gotten there yet.  We simply don’t have the earth shattering success stories at our house that many adopted families do.  And again… I start feeling left behind.

So what do we do with these feelings?  They are real and painful, and even the childish ones have a reason.  We can’t dismiss our feelings out of hand because we don’t like them.  They demand to be dealt with, and by not dealing with them we are just asking for them to come back.  Constantly comparing ourselves to others is not a helpful practice, obviously.  But it’s impossible to not notice differences sometimes, especially now that our life is so segmented.  We don’t spend our time walking the neighborhood and getting to know our closest neighbors who likely have very different lives than we do.  Instead we have social media and the internet where we can find groups and like-minded people to talk to and associate with.  In these groups and pages where we have so much in common with everyone else, it’s hard not to notice the differences!

So what do we do about it? Disconnecting can be a helpful start.  I’ve said it before, leaving Facebook was one of the best things I ever did for myself.  But when these issues do come up, we need to look at them in light of Christ and His love toward us.  We know that even though some things in our life are not good, that He works everything for good anyway.  (Romans 8:28)  This is a really beautiful perspective with which we can frame our lives.

When we start feeling like the world or our friends or like-minded acquaintances are leaving us in the dust, how can we process those feelings and allow God to work good in that situation?  Humility comes to mind for me.  If I didn’t have these struggles I might think much more highly of myself than I ought.  I might begin to forget how desperately I need my Savior, how I am nothing without Him.  Pride is a struggle for me; it’s good for me to see others doing better or more than I do.  I can be thankful for those reminders, knowing that my Heavenly Father allows them for the benefit of my soul.

These feelings are also helpful reminders to practice thankfulness.  How can I complain about what we don’t have if I’m truly thankful for the many, many things I do have?  If I was recognizing the vast blessings I have in my life, I would not be able to sit and sulk about my circumstances or covet those of others.  I can be thankful for the reminder to be thankful.

Something I have been learning over this last year is that it’s ok to struggle.  It’s good to struggle.  I often say that hard doesn’t mean bad, and I think this new idea of struggling as beneficial is related to that.  When we see our failings, shortcomings or humbling circumstances we can see the problem… Or we can see the opportunity, an opportunity to practice humility and gratitude, an opportunity to work on ourselves and struggle against those things we see that we don’t like.  It’s in the struggle that we grow and learn and lean in close to God.

So, in summary…

Bad things happen.

God loves to turn bad things into good things.

Let’s thank Him for the bad along with the good, trusting that in the end, we’re going to get to see Him transform it into something awesome.

Comments

  1. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I needed to read this today…thank you 💗

  2. Love you all!

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