My Thankful Life: Nicole

My Thankful Life is a series written by our readers. We admire and appreciate you more than you know. Thankful Moms is a place for all of us to gather and encourage one another. If you would like to submit a story about your life, you can find our editorial guidelines here. We can’t wait to hear from you.  – Lisa and Jennifer

 

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.
I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark 2:17

———

As a young adult I worked as a live-in houseparent at a home for children in foster care. After living with and caring for a house full of girls who had experienced early childhood trauma, I spent an hour with a college friend and former ministry colleague.  

“You’re just not the same, Nicole. At all,” he all but mourned.

“You just aren’t happy-go-lucky anymore. You seem more… you seem… you seem more… realistic. Less optimistic.”

His words stung. Not because they were incorrect. Though unintentionally accusatory, his words were accurate. My worldview had been impacted by pain and suffering.

During that year, I had learned how devastating life could be for children who were no less deserving of a happy home than I had been as a child. As I’d attempted to love children from hard places, I’d been punched in the face both figuratively and literally. My car had been vandalized, my personal items had been stolen, and I had once dislocated my shoulder commandeering a broomstick from a child who was threatening to beat my coworker with it.

Many nights I cried myself to sleep. All of my best ideas had been exhausted and I was hopeless.

I had failed many times in an area I’d once considered myself strong in… loving others.

My friend’s words hurt because his tone implied he couldn’t accept the tainted me.

His words were words of rejection.

Having been in ministry together, my friend’s rejection also felt like the Church’s rejection- a shattering blow for me.

But then I read Mark 2 and began to process more clearly. I wasn’t crushed by my friend’s discomfort with me or even by the difficulty I had fitting into most Western faith communities since experiencing (relatively) significant pain.

I was upset because I’d lost myself. My friend wanted to get the old Nicole back and I rather missed her too.

Over twelve months, foster care had already exposed many of my most glaring defects.

Once I began to consider those defects, I understood myself more clearly than I ever had before. It turned out the once fun-loving, seemingly carefree, encouraging, college Nicole who traveled on weekends to work with youth group kids, and who loved to bake was also a Pharisee.

Because, the Pharisees were not “healthy.” They were merely unaware of their disease. Their judgment of themselves as worthy, their constant striving toward proving their own worthiness, and their judgment of the obviously sick as unworthy, distracted them from realizing their own sickness.

That was me.

As I’m now aware of my sickness, I realize the Church I had once been so comfortable in had a tendency to seek comfort before seeking Jesus.

And I had been unaware because I had been living in luxury.

Unknowingly, I idolized comfort and expected good things to happen to me if I made the right choices. With my mouth I would say I didn’t believe in the prosperity gospel. Yet, I was always surprised when obedience resulted in pain, loss, and conflict.

Without meaning to, I’d dismissed Jesus’ words in Mark 8, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

Now I know better. Being obedient doesn’t eliminate the struggle. It intensifies it.

When I walk in obedience, my sickness is constantly exposed.

But it’s okay.

I know a Good Doctor.

– Nicole
nicole

 

Nicole blogs over at Coffee Colored Sofa and would enjoy your company on Facebook and Twitter.  

 

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

7 Comments

  1. Emily Wynsma
    August 26, 2016

    Thanks so much for sharing this. I had such a similar experience- working in a group home for teenage street girls in Bolivia when I was 20-21. Totally turned my faith and life upside down, and I still consider my faith/myself to be sort of divided into “before” and “after” that experience. And yup, I got a bunch of different reactions from people- not all negative, but definitely confused and uncomfortable with how I and my faith had changed.

    http://longonstaying.blogspot.com/2010/07/as-are-all-things.html

    Reply
    1. Nicole
      August 30, 2016

      Hi Emily,

      Thank you so much for connecting here. Sounds like we have much in common.

      Also, I have friends who worked with a ministry for street children in Bolivia for a few years and I can’t help thinking it may be the same ministry.

      It is also true- the reactions differ and my deepest and most treasured relationships have developed as a result of these difficulties (rather than in spite of them).

      That’s another story for another day.

      Best to you!

      Reply
  2. Jennifer
    August 26, 2016

    Nicole – I love your heart and your soul because its raw and real. I knew the happy, positive, boundless energy and while I enjoyed her too I so prefer the wise, merciful and loving person you are know.

    Reply
    1. Nicole
      August 30, 2016

      Thanks, Jennifer! I’m grateful for your friendship and your perspective.

      Reply
  3. Frances
    August 29, 2016

    It is hard waking up to the evil realities in the world, but it only makes the need for grace and compassion as an outpouring stronger. You are beautiful my friend, just beautiful.

    Reply
    1. Nicole
      August 30, 2016

      Thanks, Frances!

      Reply
  4. leona Moss
    September 2, 2016

    Thanks Nicole.

    I just said to my husband, as spring is blooming in South Africa, I feel like dead wood. Wrinkled dried up. 5 Years of parenting my kiddo from hard places, changed me. While reading this post now, I guess the wood that I feel might be the cross that I carry. And what joy to be following the One who redeemed all things through that cross. Thank you Jesus for the wood.

    Reply

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