Sunday, August 30, 2009
A Different Currency
Have you ever heard a sermon and felt it was written just for you? As if someone had been plopped down in the middle of your life and read your mind? Like God just knew what needed to be reinforced for you at a particular moment? There is a theme running through this past week for me and it culminated in the message today which I heard loud and clear, but am ruminating on even as I type this tonight. The theme is:
I am rich.
Yea, I really, really am. I have known it for a long time, but I think others are blind to the fact. My wealth isn't even hidden, it is out there for the world to see. Of course, it could be that the worn out Walmart jeans or the cheap and oh-so-bad haircuts leads others to believe we are poor. We have a nice, neat and clean home but it is not high end, there is nothing at all fancy or upgraded about it. We drive "experienced" cars (haha! Like that one?) and our kids are fortunate enough to have remarkably well dressed benefactors who offer them hand-me-downs that keep them looking sharp.
I think the reason others don't perceive us as wealthy is because we operate with a different currency than they do. Instead of dollar bills, our currency is hugs and kisses. We don't have the Euro, we have friendships we bank on. The LaJoy's are engaged in a different kind of commerce, one that requires true give and take with those we care about, one that doesn't place a cash value on an act of kindness nor has a balance sheet to make sure all is equitable and repaid in a tit-for-tat style.
I had a long and splendidly candid conversation with someone important in my life this week, and it wandered "all around John Henry's barn", as my mom would say. It was a faith dialogue, and it was a "safe place" where I didn't feel too corny to share what my heart really believes and what I hope my life exhibits daily. Most of the time, I feel a little odd to express much about our "LaJoy Family Currency". Others start looking at you like you are an overly pious nut case when you say in all sincerity: "I have been given so much, I have been blessed beyond all measure, it is not about money to me and I feel an obligation of gratitude to do as much in the world as I can to repay God in the ways I can." or "I trust God to meet our needs and step out on faith every day to do that which others deem ridiculous."
Even as I read that I tend to cringe. It sounds so "churchy", so "look-at-me-aren't-I-the-perfect-little-Christian"-esque. It is what often keeps me silent accept for here on the blog, where for some odd reason it feels more private when I write versus being in public walking around in real life which is REALLY a joke because far more of you come in contact with me via the blog on a daily basis than I probably speak to in a week in real life. People look at you like you are loopy if you admit that you actually really and truly believe that God provides and you don't need to worry. They shake their heads in disbelief at you when you indicate you really don't think it is all about you or that you feel blessed by certain things you feel are gifts from God...including $900 vans and decent hand-me-down's which others might consider throw aways.
It is those same people who look at you and roll their eyes who can't understand our currency. They do not see that time with our kids and with each other is priceless. They don't understand that at the LaJoy Savings and Loan we are not FDIC insured but we are certain that our assets are protected, that every precious moment we spend right now earns dividends later on...and at our kids' ages we are starting to cash in some of those dividends and are well pleased.
The LaJoy wealth lies in our love for one another...love that if we lived in a trailer or a shack would still provide us with warmth and happiness that so often eludes others. Our wealth is in our appreciation of a cascading waterfall, or a giggling dash to the car in the rain. It is in our silent hand holds, with our private LaJoy Morse code which all 5 of us use...3 squeezes means "I love you", or in Matthew's case continually squeezing a gazillion times means "I love you all the way to the moon and back". It is in the security of knowing I have a faithful and loving husband, whose bombastic and quirky humor are the heart of our home.
Maybe...just maybe...our wealth lies in the fact that we can appreciate these things in the first place, for gratitude itself makes for a happy life. For even with all these things, if our collective gratitude didn't exist and we didn't have the ability to recognize all we have been given, we would be living an impoverished life, wouldn't we?
And this leads me to the other ways in which this theme has visited me this week...
Three times this week now I have been approached about allowing others to participate somehow in offering items for the girls when they come home. Three totally different directions, but the same theme. I was asked in person what we needed and I replied in what I felt was an honest fashion, "not much really". It goes to this whole discussion on being rich or not I guess, we DO have everything we need for the girls...all the important stuff that is. We have plenty of love, we have sense enough to prepare emotionally, we have the sticktoitiveness to outlast them should issues arise, and we have an ample amount of hugs and kisses to provide.
Will they need clothing, toys, school supplies? Yes, of course they will. And somehow I am sure we will manage or we wouldn't be moving forward with this in the first place. After all, we are rich, remember? ;-) All the needs will be met and a few of the wants probably will as well.
This week I was encouraged to register as if for a baby shower, which is something I never did even when getting married...for I already felt rich in the ways that are important even way back then. And to me, it felt like begging for a gift, as in "Here...let me give you a list of all the things I desire so you can pick one, and make sure it is exactly what I want!!"
Then I find a posted comment from my adoptive mommy buddy Carrie which she posted in the hope that others would read it as she and another buddy are trying to "cook something up" to help us celebrate...and her posted comment was the first I knew about this.
This is a tough call for me, folks. As my friend here in town explained to me, others want to participate but want to know they are getting something we actually will need rather than guessing. I also know several of you have been following our family for almost 3 years now, and a few of you perhaps even closer to 10 years if you participated on Kazakhstan adoption groups long before blogs were invented. To me, you are part of my extended family in a way...a few of us are watching our children grow up together via the internet, despite the fact we may never have met in person, and you sure are not anonymous to me, nor am I to you. I have prayed for many, many of you as you wait for your Kyrgyz children to come home, I have actively tried to do every single thing I am capable of to help. I have spoken on the phone with some of you as you have weighed the pros and cons of adoption decisions. Yes, we truly are an extended family of sorts, aren't we?
But for us, it is not about "the stuff". It is 100% about relationship, community and love. And we have already determined we are wealthy enough to be philanthropists in our own right when it comes to those categories and our own "LaJoy Currency".
So how do I handle this? I had been thinking for awhile about asking you blog readers to mail us a postcard from your hometown as a "shower" of sorts, so I could one day show the girls how they had been carried in so many hearts for a very, very long time...for that is wealth, LaJoy style. Can you imagine them sitting down at a table a year or two from now, postcards from all over the world with messages of care and hope meant just for them? How cool would that be? I hope when I post that request that many of you will do it, as it would be very meaningful to all of us.
This is incredibly awkward and yet touching...that others care enough about us to want to show it in a tangible way. And yet, a part of me is so uncomfortable with it all, as we have already been given so very much that can not ever be repaid. I have thought about this for the entire week as each new situation has arisen, and yet over and over again it keeps coming up to the point where I can't ignore it anymore for fear of being rude to people whom I know care about us and only want to help. It is an unusual place for us to be in...accepting with no way of giving back. With friends in person, you can at least hope the chance will come where you can repay their kindness with a kindness of your own, even if it takes a few months or even years for an opportunity to present itself.
It seems obvious to me though, that God is talking on this one and I need to relent to some degree, to set aside pride and allow others to be involved should they want to even if I have my own misgivings about it. So maybe we can do this, and I can live with it. If you want to participate with Carrie, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org , I have no idea what is going on and her sneak attack post (very creative Carrie! hahahaha!) was the first I knew of anything...but please, please keep it very small and more about the message of love, care and faith. It is that message that is what the girls and our family need more than anything. Remember the LaJoy Currency in all of this!!
I hope I don't come across as ungrateful, your care for us is profoundly moving actually and brought me to tears more than once as I typed and erased, typed and erased this post. Part of me wants to jump up and down and shout "Yiipeee!!!!" as we are SO excited and I want you to join us too if you'd like! The other part of me worries about God's intent with all of this, about honoring the miracle that has been bestowed upon us in the first place with everything that has happened over the past couple of years. Dominick and I both are touched by every single person who continues to reach out to our family in all kinds of ways. We don't really understand it, we have had to learn to live our life in a different way, to let go of control and to let go of pride...yet continue to work our hardest in whatever ways we can to honor what God is doing here. It is humbling, and yet has brought us to a totally new place in our understanding of God's presence here on earth and how the Spirit uses ordinary people like you and I to reach out and touch others. Sound too churchy? Sorry about that, but it is true.
So using a different currency, one which perhaps has little hearts, x's and o's on it rather than eagles and arrows, we LaJoy's continue to feel rich beyond measure, treasuring all the things that make us wealthier than most. One of those things is you, our readers and our dear friends. Thanks for being with us, for adding so much joy to our lives.