Bloodlines & Opposite World

Even though I am not adopted I like to tell people that I am descended from Adam, and when they ask me to be more specific, I add, “well, actually from Noah.”  I told my kids to try that if they feel uncomfortable with questions about their origin.

When it comes to bloodlines, my pragmatic side tends to rule. For example I do not agree with those who have no wish to raise a child and give him or her a proper home, but only do so because the child is “my blood.” I am more of a “pretty is as pretty does” kind of gal. And if you think that blueboods are somehow above us common folk, just follow any “royal” family in the news and you will see what I am talking about.  Once I had to give a short devotional for our school faculty and I chose the genealogy in the first chapter of Matthew.  I figured learning about the good, bad and the ugly in Jesus’ lineage would be an eye opening exercise.  As Mona Charen once wrote in one of her columns back in the 90s, when it comes to lineage most of us may be more well connected to paupers and thieves than to princes (although sometimes these categories overlap.)

I suspect that the reference to one’s culture and history is what is meant by “my blood” than the actual physical makeup of the blood. After all red blood cells, white blood cells and plasma are universal components of human blood. (However while living overseas I did meet some Asians who thought that they could never adopt, or marry an adoptee due to the actual blood being “foreign”).

The thing about bloodlines is that none of them are probably as pure as one might think.  The question arises from time to time about the possibility of Hitler having Jewish roots, which I find intriguing. Some who are prejudiced or bigoted against a particular race might be surprised to find that they may have ancestors of that race.  And of course some of my older readers may recall the All in the Family episode where Archie Bunker was upset because he received a blood transfusion from a black health care worker. 

I think it is safe to say that most of the concern centers around the culture and family of origin that the adopted person will be separated from.  And that is a concern that should not be easily dismissed.  However…these things, in my mind, are not left to chance.  I believe that God does know each tiny one in the womb, and that He has a plan for them.  And although it is both a logistical and philosophical nightmare for us to imagine placing all of the world’s infants with a particular set of parents, for God this is not difficult.  As my daughter used to say when she was repeating her catechism with her daddy each morning, “God can do all His holy wool.”

To those who believe that God is indeed in charge, but are not too happy with His selection, I gently remind them that no one gets to pick their parents.  However random life may seem, there is an amazing Creator who knows each of us through and through, and who makes those decisions for us.  Happily this Creator is both wise, and good, and is never overwhelmed, rushed, or unsure of Himself.  While it is natural for us mere mortals to second guess His choices, it is just as natural for Him to be patient with us as we figure out the tapestry of our lives, and our place in this world.

I close with an exercise from my Penn State days when I was a very young believer.  I guess the internal instructional designer in me was always looking at how I could get important concepts into my stubborn, forgetful or wandering mind when mere lectures or reading were not sufficient.  Often I would read that God is good, give assent to it, and then somehow not feel like He truly was when trouble would come my way.  One day in my Penn State dorm, long before Seinfeld’s George Costanza’s opposite world, I developed a little exercise called opposite world.  The argument inside my head would go something like this:

What if, I imagined, instead of all the good things I am reading about God, He was just the opposite? What if, instead of the Lord being my shepherd, He was actually my enemy?

Liz that is so wrong–it says right here He is a shepherd.  

Yes, it does, but I often worry He is not my shepherd at all, but that instead He has forgotten me.

Liz! If the other Christians could hear you, why, they would think you have no faith!

But that’s just it; I really don’t have much faith. At least not as much as they may think.  I say God is good, but inside I worry that He is not.

Well why don’t you say how you really feel?  

What do you mean?

Change the Bible verses to the way you think, and then listen to it. 

What, you mean like read the 23 Psalm according to how I think, assigning negative characteristics to God?  We can do that?  

You think He does not know what you think already?  You can’t fool Him, so why not let yourself hear the way you think He is.  Just do it to learn something.

Ok, here goes. This feels a bit blasphemous, but…here goes. God, I know you are good, but sometimes I have trouble believing it. Instead of agreeing with all the good things I see in the Bible, I actually think the opposite.  Forgive me, but sometimes it is as if Psalm 23 goes something like this:

Lord, you are not much of a shepherd; I lack just about everything that I really need.

You make me lie down in dirty cesspools,

You lead me into raging floods, You drain my soul. Seriously.

You abandon me to the wrong paths for Your own wicked pleasure.

Even though I walk through the brightest valley, I am terrified,  for You are nowhere to be found;

Your rod and your staff have never been there to comfort me, although I hear you do this for others around me.

You prepare humiliation before me in the presence of my enemies.

You cover my head with sorrow; my cup is almost always empty.

Surely your goodness and love will elude me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the depths of despair forever.

It did not take long for me to feel and know that the person I was describing was not God at all, but a compilation of my fear and doubt, or maybe Satan himself. I said the first few verses with a bit of anger, resentment and heartache.  But then, a strange transformation occurred. I felt so silly saying such mean things about God, things that I knew were not true, things that I could not say with any type of proof or evidence.  And then I found myself unable to finish.  Why I no more believed that God was mean, or unavailable, or indifferent, than I believed that I would fly to the moon from the Forum building at Penn State after my chemistry class; I was just having a temper tantrum complete with a full pity party.

Hearing my erroneous thinking aloud helped me that day though.  I left thinking to myself, “if God were not good…what a scary world this would be.” (Heck, it is scary with Him being good.)  But I had to hear my own shaking fist and doubting heart to come back around to thankfulness.

Maybe you are like me, needing a reminder that God is good, and that your adoption is not a mistake, but something designed by the Good Shepherd.  Maybe you can use my negative template to help you see and hear the false thinking that God is not good, or that He is not walking with you through all your troubles.  It’s ok.  He knows we are not perfect, and will not condemn you.  Let your fears and doubts have their full expression if that will help you find an equally full expression of God’s love and protection of you.  For it was the Good Shepherd, and not a random act, who placed you in your family.  I hope one day you can believe that.

About allthingslizard

I have done just about everything I have always wanted to do: worked as a campus minister, became a teacher, married a nice man named Joe (36 years now), adopted three wonderful kids and watched them reach adulthood, lived overseas, earned my Ph.D., and recently became an RN. However the only thing I have not yet done is to write about my life's journey, even though I have written a lot of personal poems, mom notes to my kids, academic papers, and thousands of letters. I have a lot to write about because all those things I have done were accomplished on smooth roads with beautiful vistas, as well as on scary, twisted, hurricane alleys. Maybe you will find something here that you can relate to. And yes, I know that a preposition is a terrible thing to end a sentence with.
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