My mom reminded me this week of the story of the carrot, the egg, and the coffee. If you're not familiar with it, a young woman was talking to her mother about a hardship she was enduring. Her mother took 3 pots, filled them with water, and put them on to boil. In one she dropped a raw carrot, another a raw egg, and in the third a spoonful of coffee grounds. After a little while, she pulled them out and placed them before her daughter. She asked her what had changed about each of them while in hot water. The daughter replied, well, the carrot was hard before, but now it's all soft and easy to break apart. The egg was fragile before, but now it's hard on the inside. And the coffee grounds, it turned the water into coffee. The mother said, you have the choice of how you react to hardship and trials. You can fall apart like the carrot, become bitter and hardened like the egg, or you can change the water around you into something better than before.
This past week, I've felt a lot like the carrot, and I'll admit, I've even had some moments like the egg, being bitter and angry. But I've chosen to be like the coffee. I can still make a difference around me, even if it's not how I expected to. So what have I learned? A lot, and here's a few things for starters.
1. First and foremost, I've learned I have control over nothing. I said from the beginning, when I first saw Sam's pic, that God's hand was on all of this. For whatever reason, He changed up our plans. He is still in control, and I have to believe that, even if I don't understand.
2. God doesn't owe me an explanation. He is under no obligation to help me understand it. As He has said, He is the Potter, and I am the clay. I have to do what He wants, even if I don't have a clue as to why.
3. I have learned how important patience is. I'm not saying I've completely learned it yet, far from that! But through this He's teaching me patience.
4. I have learned love. Sure, I've always loved my family and friends. But I have seen such selfless love over the last several weeks. From the ones who gave out of the little they had, the ones who took time to offer encouragement to a stranger, to meeting those who are sacrificing so much to make the world a better place. When I say sacrificing, I mean material possessions and money to get these children home. Two of my good friends have been working diligently to pay the ransom for their children, a new friend, still working on paying for one adoption, is sacrificing again for their two new children.
5. Sacrificing material goods - yeah, I've learned about that, and so has my whole family. From the minute we decided to commit, I have saved every single penny. Nothing was bought that wasn't absolutely essential. We ate from our couponing stockpile so grocery money could go to the adoption fund. (My girl scout troop even brought me groceries!) I felt guilty for even buying a $1 tea from Hardee's! Wanting to help so many other families, even after our commitment ended, has made me so conscious of wasteful spending. That value meal for lunch, that's a donation to a family who desperately needs it.
6. I've also learned that support can come from unexpectedly places. There are people in my life that I expected encouragement from, and never heard a kind word spoken by them. But there are others that showed overwhelming support, let me know they were praying for me. Some were total strangers before this.
7. Saving the best for last, as far as God's commandment for caring for orphans... I can now say, I get it. I didn't before. Sure, the Bible says pure and undefiled religion is this, to care for widows and orphans in their distress. But in my little corner of the world, orphans were well taken care of in foster homes. I didn't personally know any orphans. All was good, right? WRONG. This has opened my eyes to what the orphans of our world are going through. I know some will never get it. The ones who say, oh too bad you didn't get to adopt, but maybe next time you can adopt from here. Or, why are you so emotional over this? You never even met these boys, how can you act so heartbroken? Aren't you overreacting just a little? No, they don't get it. I pray they will some day. I feel terrible that it's taken me this long to "get it", but I am so glad I do now.
I guess I could go on and on, but this gives you the basic idea. Sure, it still hurts when I see "Sam's room" and realize he won't see how hard Dave worked to make it just right for him, or when I think about Duncan and how he and Kacey won't get to sit together and share their birthday over cake. But I wouldn't trade it for the world. I hope I'm a better person now than I was at the end of February, and I hope I can be like those coffee grounds and turn a boiling pot of water into a rich cup of coffee. If I can help someone else, or make my little corner of the world just a tiny bit better, that's priceless. The woman in that story was a smart one, and so is my mom.