Monday, October 4, 2010

This Is How We Know What Love Is

I’ve been getting some nice messages and emails from people I don’t even know. Thank you. I wanted to grab a line off someone’s note and post about it because I want you all to have a clear and honest picture of why our life looks the way it does. In a very nice note from someone I don’t know I read this:

The patience and love you have inside of you must be endless!

I must be honest and transparent in this post: There are days when I want to just run away from this craziness. Caring for this many people is HARD. There are days when I wake up and I am burdened because of the amount of energy and love and unselfishness that I am asked to pour out into these children. There are days when I am emotionally weary from handling all of these different personalities in our home….most of which rage war against my own complex personality. It does not come natural to me to love. I can tell you what comes natural though: selfishness. Some days I feel like I deserve my two hours of peace (during naps) and when that time is interrupted I am ready to start throwing punches. Some days I get sick of walking into my once nicely kept bathroom only to smell pee all over the floor and to see a ring of dirt around the tub that was just cleaned two days earlier. Some days I want to just be able to go for a run outside and not have to plan for a babysitter. Even the other night at 9pm I was locked out of my own bedroom by some certain 6 year old and 11 year old jokesters who were waiting for Daddy to come home and decided that they would play a trick on Mommy in the mean time.

It is not natural for me to love during these situations. The night I stood locked outside of my own bedroom I leaned my head against the door with tears in my eyes thinking to myself…what has happened to my life? Enter God’s definition of love:

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. (1 John 3:16)

For those following Jesus, love is not an option. Love is a command. God’s definition of love IS NOT WARM FUZZY FEELINGS. It’s a lay down your life action. Jesus died so that we could have a relationship with God. So we could wake up every day and breathe air every day and live every day and not feel the torture of separation from God because of our sin. What is so warm and fuzzy about a man being tortured and bleeding to death on a cross? Yet, the Bible tells us that is true LOVE. That’s how much Jesus loved us. Even when we didn’t love Him back, even when we were still sinning in His face. He still DIED for us. Do we understand the weight of this? If we do, then in turn God tells us what our response should be: to lay down our lives for our brothers. Laying down our lives is not easy. It doesn’t feel natural. It’s going to take sacrifice. And day after day, God is growing His definition of love in me. God is teaching me that love is laying down my time, my desires, and my grasp on convenience and control and giving it up for others. The way Team Sullivan looks was not my idea. You have to know that from our life to go from this:


To this.....................................

And this...........................
takes something supernatural. Jake and I weren’t born with any extra love inside of us for others. We just obeyed when God put adoption on our hearts. That’s all that we did. From there God’s extraordinary gospel is teaching us how to love others. God has done all of this. I had a picture of what my family was going to look like. And God had a different one. And His plan trumps mine.

At the beginning of our adoption journey I had two very big fears 1) That I would not be able to love an adopted child as much as my own biological children. 2) That by adding a child by adoption that we were somehow taking some sort of right or privilege away from our own biological children. I can’t really explain this second fear in words….it was just how I felt. My fears were continually centered around my sense/idea of what my ideal family picture looked like. When we started in on our adoption, these fears didn’t magically go away. At times they were even magnified and would escalate into crazy scenarios in my mind. What if our adopted child ruins our family? What will having an older son do to JJ’s personality? As a mom I started this adoption with fears. But I was counting on God to work it out. I just kept telling myself, somehow, He’s going to work it out. And through our 2 year roller coaster of adoption, God took these fears....

And He…........................................

SQUASHED THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What I am saying by all of this is that YOU can do this too. Because God can teach you about His definition of love just like He has taught me. If you were at my house on any given day you may observe me and think that I maybe was born with LESS patience and love than the average person! :) None of this has come natural to me. I just obeyed what God put on my heart. And I am learning how to love.....God's way. Even when it is hard. Even on those days when I feel like running full speed away from the craziness. But if we know the definition of love, and understand that we only wake up each day because of Jesus, then we will want to learn how to follow His command to love others.

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)


12 comments:

Jen said...

Awesome post, Janel!

the crawfords said...

Oh man janel! I needed this today! Thank you!

Lori said...

Once you learn that love isn't a feeling, it is an action, you understand what God is calling you to do. Love the unlovely, go beyond yourself, trust and obey.

Matthew & Jennifer Pitkin said...

Janel, I want you to know that I truly believe God is using you and your family not only as a witness to enacting His great commission and His love, but as a guide for those of us just starting along the adoption and/or parenting journey. Since we no longer live in Ames, we look to you guys to see how to be Christian parents and future adopting parents. We are always encouraged by your authenticity and ability to honor God in all you do... and allow God to move through you to pave the way for others. Keep up the good work, even when the going gets tough. Your reward in Heaven will be great. We love you.

Jody said...

"But I was counting on God..." that is the gospel. We do NOTHING in our own strength simply to thy cross we cling. God does it all. Praying for God's strength for you today Janel, do the next thing.

Megan said...

Oh wow! We get that same comment all the time. "Wow! You guys have so much patience and love." We just smile and walk away thinking "oh man, if you only knew!" Thank you for putting our thoughts into words. Now I have a better response to all those statements!

Nate and Natalie said...

Love this post! Thank you for your honesty and truth. Encouraged by you and your family.

Jill Paullus said...

Awesome.

joyness said...

Janel-honestly this is the first time I have been to your blog and I have to say, Thank you. What an encouragment this posting is! I am sure you will never know...so excited for you guys to have the opportunity to raise some fine men (and woman) of God...for His kingdom. May HIS Grace and Mercy overfill you today and in the many long days ahead-from one mommy to another!

carrie clement said...

Well said, Janel.

Christy said...

I, too, needed to hear these words today. I am finding myself daily struggling to find enough love and patience for all the current members of our family. And facing some major adoption fears of my own as well.

Thank you, friend, for the reminder that it's not something I can do on my own!

Caitlin said...

I love this. Thanks for your honesty!