It has been more than a month since I have blogged. I would like to attribute my absence in the blogosphere to the stresses and strains of my vocational life. As a pastor the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is challenging. The expectations (largely self-imposed) to prepare and deliver thoughtful, meaningful messages in worship and to design services which reach beneath the surface of worshipers' lives preoccupy much of my attention during this time period. With the economic challenges afoot, this has also been a season of unusually high demand from folks living at the margins of life. Their telephone calls, drop-in visits and often-impossible requests are big stressors.
I'd like to say it is these vocational challenges that have distanced me from my blog. But I don't think that would be entirely honest. In the last month I have been plagued with other issues and questions, especially related to my life as a parent, and I haven't felt these moments of personal shadow would be very redemptive for those who are accustomed to reading my words.
Don't misread the previous paragraph for anything more than it is. Our kids are doing pretty well, all things considered. There are, to our knowledge, no new illegal activities occurring in the lives of some of our kids. We are not, unlike other adoptive families, under the scrutiny of social services auspices. We have, in fact, had many good interactions over the past few weeks.
The issues and questions to which I refer above are, rather, much deeper than that, and really reflections of who I am as a person. This whole parenting process has become so much more complicated than I ever thought it could be, with fewer clear answers than I had anticipated. I am realizing a couple of things about myself, and while I don't have the data set to know if this is more than only a personal meandering, I wonder if it sounds like anything other parents experience.
(1) Parenting is less about changing a child's life and more about shaping what is already present through genetics or past experience.
(2) It is easy for a parent to lose oneself in the parenting task, resulting in confusion for the child(ren) in question as well as for the parent.
(3) Being parent to an adult child, especially one with a history of attachment issues, is fraught with emptiness and loneliness.
It's always a little embarrassing when the very things I've been saying to adoptive parents over the years come "home to roost," to use an agrarian metaphor. I mean, how many times have I blathered that adoption is "about what's best for kids, not what's in it for parents." Or, "Parents need to remember who they are in the process." I even have spoken at national conference workshops on the spiritual dynamics of adoptive parenting. It's always so much easier to speak as an outsider than to face the reality of one's own situation.
And so, in the midst of the flurry of family activity and vocational responsibility of the past month, I have had these thoughts percolating in the background of my consciousness, but with little opportunity for resolution. Perhaps I will continue to elaborate in the days ahead with hope of finding some peace in the process.