Shame and guilt are not the same thing. Brene Brown says that guilt is about our behavior, “I’ve done wrong,” whereas shame is about who we are, “I am wrong.” This quote from her TED Talk on Shame is powerful.
How many of you, if you did something that was hurtful to me, would be willing to say, ‘I’m sorry. I made a mistake.’? How many of you would say that? Guilt: I’m sorry. I made a mistake. Shame: I’m sorry. I am a mistake. There’s a huge difference between shame and guilt.
We have to ask ourselves what we truly believe. Am I a mistake? Is it a mistake that I am my child’s mother? Did God turn his head when our referral was sent, and somehow we ended up with a child that was not meant to be ours? Or, did we make a terrible mistake when we accepted this referral? Or how about this one, “Is this my punishment for nagging my husband to adopt this child?”
I personally don’t believe we’re that powerful. Did Russ and I choose the children I gave birth to? No, we didn’t have the ability to determine the genders, personalities, or appearances of our children. We had three with blue eyes, and four with brown, big babies, small babies, easy ones and fussy ones. As they are growing, we have introverts, extroverts, a scientist, artist, writer, doctor, an engineer, creative mind, and musicians, – and they were all created by God. Yes, I carried them and they are a beautiful blend of Russ and me, but they were fearfully and wonderfully made by the Lord and Creator of all.
Likewise, I don’t believe we chose the children that came to our family through adoption. Sure, we got referrals for Eby and Little Man, but they were not random. The boys came into the orphanage just as our paperwork was completed. Other families ahead of us requested girls, so when our application reached the top of the stack, our little boys were on the top of their stack and they were matched with us.
Our girls, who were waiting children, literally came to us. We were Dimples’ sponsors and later we learned it was possible to adopt her. Then we traveled to the Ethiopian orphanage where another sweet girl stayed by my side as we played with the children. I could not forget her; her image stayed with me for months after returning home. The Holy Spirit was burning Bee into my heart.
God knew that four of my children would be born to their Ethiopian mothers and later I would have the honor of becoming their mother too.
You are not a mistake. You are not the wrong parent for your child. Will you need help? Yes. Will you need professional help? Quite possibly. Will you need treatment for your child outside of your home? I hope not, but we’re a living example that it happens despite our best efforts. Does that mean you weren’t meant to be your child’s parent. No.
I could write an entire post on disruption, and I touched on it at Refresh. This post is already long enough, so let me just say, it happens, it is painful, nobody expects it, and sometimes it is necessary. Does that mean you made a terrible mistake – that you were the wrong parent for your child for that time? I honestly don’t think so. God used you as He chose in the life of the child, and you made a way for your child to his new family. I’m sure it was horribly painful and I’m sorry you had to live through it.
A pastor I know likes to say, “God draws straight with crooked lines.” Sit with that for a little while.
God knew. God chose. He is good. He is loving. We put our trust in Him, watching and waiting for His perfect will to be accomplished. Our hope does not put us to shame.
It bears repeating,
…Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5: 3-5