Finding faith, for me, never comes easy. Maybe it’s true… things are always in the last place you look. While I was raised in an active Christian home and family, my mind always questioned faith related subjects. This was much to the dismay of my parents, who always desired that I could believe for the sake of believing. It’s not that I don’t believe, in general. My mind always wants answers. I want to know why good people suffer. I want to understand why innocent children live in orphanages until they are thrust into the street. I want to know why… Let’s just leave it at that. I want to know why. (I realize that some of you may find those ideas to be offensive, but please bear with me. I’ll help you to better understand how to help your family and loved ones who may be a little like me; who are more concerned with “why” than finding faith.)
I don’t know why God loves me. I don’t know why He keeps coming back. I don’t know why He provides me with explanations when people of faith far greater than mine are much more worthy of the miracles that I have been allowed to witness. I don’t know why my brain works the way that it does. Sometimes I wonder why it doesn’t function more like others that were raised in homes and families where parents taught children to believe unconditionally. When it came to home and family environment, for me, finding faith should have come easy.
At first I wondered if the daughter I adopted at fifteen was my long-deserved Divine punishment. Finding faith, for her, was no easier than it was for me.
Perhaps I will never understand why God took me to an atheist country to show me how He would answer all-but impossible requests from three little orphans, even though He knew I would continue to question His wisdom in leaving their friends behind.
Because of the limited efforts I had put into finding faith, I didn’t deserve to be provided with an understanding of why my twenty-nine-year-old little brother died. But that’s just what God gave me as I carried a screaming, sobbing child away from her orphanage and toward her new home and a better life.
At first I wondered if the daughter I adopted at fifteen was my long-deserved Divine punishment. Finding faith, for her, was no easier than it was for me. One thing is sure; she brought hell into our home. It wasn’t her fault. My daughter’s life before her adoption had taught her that there were only two types of people in the world; those who abused, and those who received that abuse. As she joined our family, she was no longer abused. In her own damaged mind, that left her only one role to play. She played out that position with all of the hate, anger, rage and cruelty that her abusers had shown to her. Finding faith was the last thing on her mind.
Even when she refused to believe in us, we kept going back.
Despite our best parenting efforts, eventually it wasn’t safe for that daughter, or any of our other family members, to remain in the same home with her. It didn’t mean I had stopped loving her. Seeing the horrible things she continued to suffer because of a history of abuse only made me love her more. But my daughter needed help on a level that only institutional life could offer. She needed to spend time away from me and the rest of our family. I promised her that I wouldn’t completely go away but she didn’t believe me. Many of the weekly visits that my wife and I made were met with rage and her demands that we never return. Often our weekly phone calls were refused. But we kept going back. And back. And back. We kept going back because we loved her. We kept going back because she was our daughter. We kept going back because we had made promises to her. Even when she refused to believe in us, we kept going back. Often, we knew that our parenting efforts would be misunderstood, unappreciated, or outright rejected. We knew that she might never come toward the better life that we told her she could have. But we tried to give her every opportunity. We hoped that her finding faith in us and finding faith in God would eventually become possible, though as time went on, the likelihood seemed to diminish.
Progress was slow. Little by little she moved forward in a strange progression of three-steps-forward, then two steps back. After a series of good and bad experiences through programs and places that ranged from exceptional to weak, our daughter was able to find success. She now lives in a group home where, like some of her other placements, staff and management understand and care enough to provide for her in the manner that helps her most.
I smiled as I realized that while her intentions were sincere, she was just like me.
My daughter still struggles with finding faith in us, as parents. She still has her bad days. But now we are reacting to relatively minor behavioral issues rather than life-threatening ones. Recently she has had some small setbacks and I decided to sit down and talk with her about them. As our conversation was concluding, my daughter promised to do better, just as I have promised another Father so many times in my own life. I smiled as I realized that while her intentions were sincere, she was just like me. Perfection, though commanded within the pages of the Bible, is still beyond grasp (or even vision) for both of us. Finding faith, for us, will be a journey, not a destination.
I promised my daughter that whether her actions were good or bad, that I would always be there for her. I promised that I would always keep parenting; keep come back. I asked her to believe me and she told me that she did. It’s hard for her, though. She has been betrayed so many times in her life. I thought I heard my own voice questioning my Father as she told me that she didn’t know why her brain works the way it does (though I do). Again it sounded like me when she said that it’s hard to do what she knows she should. I reiterated that her actions had nothing to do with my love. I told her that whether her actions were good or bad, that I would always come back. I told her that I would be there whether she thought she deserved it, or not. She cried as she said things that I have sent up on so many occasions. “I know. But why? Why do you always come back? So many people go away and never come back. Why do you come back, even when I do bad things?”
My confusion about my own life and relationship with the Perfect Father was answered through my own lips as I spoke to a child who really wants to do better, even though that desire meets with mixed results. “Because I love you. Because you are my child. Because I made promises to you. Because I am your dad.” God stays with me while I’m trying; while I’m doing my best at finding faith. Why wouldn’t I do the same for my daughter?
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