Fake fingernails, suffering and selfishness….

This entry was posted by KK on Sunday, 3 September, 2017 at

I am under the weather a bit and decided yesterday was a good day to remove my acrylic nails so I feel like typing now that I can with ease. I only got the nails put on because I decided it was time for me to be a big girl and stop biting my nails (it only took me 40 years) but in order to start their growth I needed a shield of protection on them because I have anxiety and little control over the desire to chew them. It has been a lifelong battle.

We didn’t go to church today but I had a brief but meaningful text conversation this morning with my brother, Brent, (not blood, my ex-brother-in-law and the closest thing I have to a true brother) about suffering. I got more out of that than I may have gotten out of church today. My brother was a preacher for decades before his life was turned upside down by my cruel sister and he found himself suffering alone without his wife of almost 20 years wife and without his four children. It is a very sad story.

But it’s also such a common pattern I have seen over the years and continue to see and hear about nearly every day.

A few years ago a very good friend of ours’ wife abruptly left him for another woman after 16 years of marriage. This guy didn’t do anything wrong. Why was he being punished? He is now happily remarried to a beautiful, God-fearing young lady and they’re expecting their first child any day. The sun came back out from behind the clouds for him which is what we prayed and hoped for but at the time couldn’t see. But why did he go through so much pain to get to where he is today? I grieve for him the decades he lost and the pain he went through like I grieve for my brother and so many others.

Our high school had their annual spiritual retreat last weekend and I prayed and wept with several girls who are suffering through hard things and it breaks my heart not only because they are suffering but that they really have no idea what kind of suffering their lives will bring just like I had no idea when I was their age. I want to hug the daylights out of them and tell them everything will be ok like this is the worst thing that may ever happen to them knowing it’s not. People lose their jobs, people get divorced, people get cancer, people die. There’s nothing anyone can do to prevent these these things from happening. Maybe it is how we choose to react to these things when they happen that grows our faith? Dang it, I am finally growing up. Didn’t see this coming.

I think as a child I was hyper-sensitive to others’ suffering. My heart was broken for the lonely and less fortunate at a very early age. I cried if I saw a kid eating by themselves at lunch. I remember begging my parents to adopt a child. I decided I would when I grew up. Jason and I only “dated” a month or so before we decided to get married and this came up sometime during that time which was me saying, “So this is something I am doing. Cool?” He agreed. He was very agreeable back then when we had our rose-colored glasses on. A month later we got married. A few years later we had Wheat, then Lake and after River popped out I was like, “So don’t forget about that whole adoption thing, yo!” and you could hear the record scratch looking at the glare he gave me. Bless it.

Despite dreaming of going to Africa and adopting that medically fragile, naked, hungry, skin-and-bones little boy with the swollen belly crying dry tears laying in the dirt covered in flies that I saw in a National Geographic magazine in 5th grade we reluctantly began with foster care. I say reluctantly because I was more or less twisting Jason’s arm at this point and taking what I could get.

After nine years of fostering and advocating for children, taking in 26 foster children and adopting three that were not reunified with their birth parents we closed our home about this time last year.

Jaden, aka “JJ”, came to us a 15-month-old, malnourished, undernourished, brown-skinned little boy very skinny with a big swollen belly who cried more than any kid I have ever seen over every little thing except when I was holding him. Coincidence? Ha! After an extremely long and rocky two years, four months, one week and two days he finally became a Bailey and was appropriately named “Justice” for we thought that his adoption signified the end of his (and our) suffering. There was a whole lot of suffering during that time, on our part and his. But we had no idea what suffering even looked like, really. During that time we were also gifted with premature, medically fragile twins that were nearly free and clear for adoption the day we were signing the foster care contracts (who became Baileys within 8 months) that I believe was God’s little peace offering during our suffering. We were so naive.

It has been exactly five years since his adoption and almost every single day I am angry. Not quite the reaction I expected. This is what I always wanted, right? Most days I am so angry I can’t even think about anything else much less others who are suffering far worse than we are. I am angry at his birth mother who chose to drink alcohol and do drugs while she was pregnant. I am angry that she lied when he was born and angry at the hospital who sent him home with an addict who then neglected him even more and failed to meet his basic needs causing a lifelong lack of trust and security. I am angry at a broken system who failed to protect him causing his permanency to be delayed so long prolonging his healing. I am angry that I fought that system so hard for a child that has completely wrecked my perfect little dream who causes us daily frustration, sadness and anger. I am angry that our biological kids who have already sacrificed more than most kids their age have to live this life with a special needs sibling whose special needs aren’t outwardly visible when all their friends live lives that appear far more glorious and “normal”. I am angry he causes them so much frustration because of his choices that they know what it feels like to hate something at such a young age when I have tried so hard to teach them to love unconditionally. I am angry that my house is in constant chaos over the disruption he causes. I’m angry our kids don’t want to bring their friends and girlfriends home because they’re embarrassed. I’m angry that we set out to do something good and I feel like we are being punished every day because of it.

I could go on and on and on.

But the reality of that entire rant is a result of my selfishness. I want to truly live on the inside that fun, outgoing, happy life that my quirky personality and funny antics lead everyone looking in from the outside believes I live. I want the nice house that all my kids’ friends have so they won’t be embarrassed to bring their friends and girlfriends home. I want to go on relaxing vacations like everyone else gets to do and not worry about all my littles having behavioral issues and/or sensory meltdowns and spending money that we may or may not have to use toward therapies, evaluations, neurofeedback sessions, old car repairs, home repairs, etc.

But I am slowly learning. Through walking through others’ suffering with them and enduring my own suffering I am learning more and more each day that this life truly isn’t meant to be easy and relaxing. There’s no “frustration-free packaging” in the real world and if it appears that way somebody’s still got their fake nails on and underneath that acrylic are chewed up, ripped and weak nails that need a shield of protection for them to gain their strength. The only thing that is real is our relationships with those we love and the faith that inevitably grows when we are faced with suffering. My brother reminded me this morning that God develops Christ-like character in us through trials and suffering. (James 1:2-4) But that it also sucks. (His words…and I agree wholeheartedly) He also sent me this… “Anxiety (anger) does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.” (Charles Spurgeon)

One day I will let go of my anger towards Justice’s birth mom. Right now it helps a little for me to be angry toward her than angry at him when it seems like he does everything in his power to make me angry some days and that isn’t his fault. We both have healing to do.

The sun (and the SON) are shining so I must go…..it’s been real, Harvey.

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One Response to “Fake fingernails, suffering and selfishness….”

  1. Beautiful and such truth. We were out of town today and got to worship with our good friends…the message was our call to be OBEDIANT. If we are not obedient then we are disobedient. Great example: parents left for the evening and asked that the kiddos clear the table, load the dishwasher, and sweep the floor. They got home hours later to the smell of fresh paint and dinner still sitting on the table! They were so excited – we surprised you and painted the living room! But they were not obedient….did not do what was asked of them. The question/challenged posed was : ” are we doing the work He is asking us to do or the work we want to do?” Because, you can be certain, the work He asks you to do is NOT going to be easy….I say this to encourage you to “stay the course” – if you are uncomfortable you are probably being obedient!
    Hope to read more posts from you :)

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