We live in a very offend-able society. You and I are surrounded everyday by opportunities to be offended and really get something stuck in our crawl (wherever that particular body part might be located). In fact, the truth is, if you CAN be offended, you WILL be offended.
As we have not brought our children home yet, I cannot speak from any first-hand experience, but only through what many adoptive parents have told me: You have to have thick skin to adopt.
I would say you have to have thick skin to be human.
We love fairy tales and don’t like it when our lives aren’t exactly reflective of the latest Disney princess and prince movie. But I’ve heard stories about children rejecting their adoptive parents, or being rebellious as they get older, going off the deep end, if you will. There are times even parents reject their adoptive children….did you know there is a whole group of adoptive kids in America from other countries whose original adoptive parents gave them back?!?! I’ve heard of kids who are so difficult to help to heal because their wounds are deep and very, very raw that it takes every ounce of energy and courage adoptive (or biological for that matter) parents have just to survive with them. I’ve heard of adoptive families walking through the store only to be “encouraged” to use contraceptives – as if we’re helping to control the pet population. I’ve heard from other adoptive families of their children from another race, unfortunately experiencing discrimination and ridicule because of something over which none of us had any control. Thick Skin Required.
I’m sure, with soon to be eight kids, we will get some stares, hear some whispers, and maybe even get, as a gift, a box of……well you get the idea. We may have to endure some ill-thought-out Pollock jokes or even outright anger from folks who just don’t understand. Oh there are some WONDERFUL stories – they far outweigh the sad ones, I believe – out there. But it’s never a fairy tale. Never easy. I think God, lately, has been thickening Amy and my skin a little so we are ready for whatever this thing will bring.
Truth is, whether through adoption or some other circumstance, we all will have the opportunity to be hurt and offended by people, some well-meaning and some not so much, who just don’t know any better. The problem with offense is the one whom it truly hinders and handicaps is the one who offended and then harbors that offense, not the one who did the offending. I know it can be very difficult to get through an offense, especially when the wound comes from someone we may love (I’m still surprised by some close to us who are indifferent or even dislike the fact we are adopting these children). Regardless, God has a better way, and it generally doesn’t start the day one is offended.
God, from the day you’re born I believe, begins to develop thick skin over your life. He knows an offended heart is more un-yielding than a fortified city (Proverbs 18:19), and the bitterness and brokenness which results as our hearts, through offense an un-forgivenss, grow hard and un-movable will totally derail His plan for our lives. So He goes about the life-long process of helping us develop thick skin while preserving a tender heart. Think about the miracle that is!
If you’ve never been offended and you’re living in LaLa Land with pink unicorns and snowflakes which taste like Thin Mints, please know someday there will be a situation or circumstance that will test you to the limit. In that moment refuse to be offended. Be hurt, be wounded, be devastated….but don’t be offended at man or God.
If you’ve been or maybe even are carrying offense, let me encourage you to consider Jesus. Of course He can heal you and make you better, but that’s not what I mean. Consider the opportunity He had to be offended……Consider this:
1 Peter 2:23 – When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
Trust Him. The process of creating thick skin has purpose. It’s to protect your heart. It’s to prepare you for what God has for you on the road ahead. And it’s to help you become more like Jesus.
Grow Thick Skin.
Refuse to be offended.
Trust your heart to the Master.
Forgive. Forgive. Forgive.
It won’t be easy, I promise. But it will be worth it.