“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
Those verses have been running through my mind the last few days. I realized just how true they are yesterday when I was out washing my car. I was on the far side, away from our new neighbors and their house, but I could still hear them. I don’t think they knew I was outside. (At least I hope they didn’t!) Logan came out and headed across the cul-de-sac to see Howard. Howard is 82, and he adores both little guys. They go over to his house and help him work in his yard. They rake with him, pull weeds with him, and generally enjoy his company. He, in turn, enjoys theirs. So much so, in fact, that when Howard turned 80 a few years ago, Ryan and Logan were invited to his surprise party. We were not. Jim went along to chaperone the small guests.
Anyway, after Logan headed over, I heard the new neighbors talking among themselves. They have lived here since late June, and we’ve only seen them once or twice. It’s too bad, because they have a darling daughter who is the boys’ age! My first meeting with them was under less than auspicious circumstances—they had come over to check out their new house (3 days before closing!) without telling the sellers. They set off the alarm, which brought the neighborhood security, and then they had the audacity to be upset that they couldn’t get into ‘their’ house. When it was pointed out to them that it still, in fact, belonged to the people who were moving out (for 3 more days, until closing), they got angry. That first meeting wasn’t pretty. Since then, I’ve seen them maybe twice. Logan and Ryan introduced themselves one weekend, but that’s it. As they watched Logan head toward Howard’s, I heard snatches of the conversation: “Why would someone choose to parent a child like that?” and “I wonder what’s REALLY wrong with him?” are the ones that stick in my mind. Angry, I was ready to step out and confront them when I realized something. I’ve been that person. I’ve wondered those things before.
I suspect that Logan’s differences are part of the reason we don’t see their 2nd grader out front. I can hear her in the backyard. It’s their loss. In the 4 1/2 years we’ve had the privilege of being Logan’s parents, we have learned tremendous amounts about rejection, assumptions, and prejudice. He is a delightful child, with challenges galore. Yes, he can be hard to understand. Yes, he’s not very coordinated. Yes, he blurts out everything that comes to his mind without applying any filters. (There are no longer ANY secrets around here. Need proof? Ask the Sunday School teacher. Or the small group babysitter. Or the speech therapist or the horse therapist. Or the clerk at wherever we shopped last. ) Yes, he has difficulty hearing. Yes, he has control issues. Yes, he challenges me as mom regularly. Those are the hard things. They are frustrating. They are challenging…for all of us. They are also the refining things about parenting (or being a sibling to) this child.
Because of Logan, we have learned compassion. We know what it is to see a child rejected because he wears hearing aids. We see the hurt others inflect with their words. And we watch our much more carefully! Often it’s unintentional, but far too frequently the words are chosen deliberately. We have seen the joy of accomplishment in a new light. We don’t take success for granted. We see what it is to struggle with concepts and work long and hard for mastery. We see the frustration when mastery doesn’t come, or when it does come but memory issues hinder the recall. We see the elation in a job well done. We see the dedication and thoughtfulness of a child who is gifted differently. And we are learning to appreciate these things.
Those who know me know that I have been upfront about Logan’s adoption. It’s been hard. It’s been challenging. It’s been an exercise in perseverance. Some days I feel like a massive failure. I don’t see progress for him. There are days part of me wants to throw in the towel. But I know that God is faithful, and that He gave us this child for a reason. Yes, Logan has a home and a family; access to much needed medical care and therapy. But his parents and his siblings have had lessons in humility. In the depth of our faith. In considering this trial to be pure joy. And you know what? As a result of sticking with it, of persevering, we are starting to see the gifts. Maturity is one. A changed heart is another. We have a greater understanding and compassion for other parents with special needs children. On the good days, we count our blessings. On the bad days we have to dig deeper to find the blessings, but they are richer, somehow. In spite of the challenges, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Logan has been God’s way of maturing us as parents and as people. I’m ready for the refining of my character to move from 60 grit sandpaper in that power sander to something finer, but only God knows when I’ll be ready for that. In the meantime, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:14)
Doing that, I can’t fail. That knowledge is incredibly freeing!
*Yes, that’s an OLD picture of Logan. When our computer died last month, I lost all my current pictures. Fortunately, I didn’t lose everything, but for now the last several months are gone. Hopefully they’ll be retrievable soon. In the meantime, you’ll have to be content with a picture of Logan from last Christmas!