Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Trying to go the extra mile-possible new adventures in loving our neighbor

The law of Jesus' day said that if a Roman soldier asked you to carry his stuff, you had to drop what you were doing,and carry his stuff for a mile. He was one of your oppressors, he was a stranger, and yet you had to leave your life and help his. Jesus said that you weren't just supposed to carry it one mile. He told the people they had to carry the pack two miles. You are supposed to go out of your way, way out of your way to help others, friends, neighbors, strangers, enemies if you follow Jesus. The Bible also talks about the gifts, talents and abilities we have been given, and using those all to the glory of God, working not just for man, but for God himself. We have a responsibility to serve and to sacrifice.

Sometimes when I look at all the blessings around me, I wonder, am I sacrificing enough, am I doing enough? I don't mean so that Jesus will love me, his love for me is not limited to what I can do for him. I just think of the things that have come so easily to me, the blessing I have. Many came with work, but a work that was ultimately very fulfilling, very satisfying. Have I challenged myself enough? Is there more I can give.

Have I squandered my blessings? Is there a way I can atone for those things too? I mishandled God's gifts, I got into debt, I took things for granted. God's forgiveness provides atonement, I'm not worried about being shut out of heaven, but can I make up for those things somehow, ease my conscience appease my own guilt? Climb out of the holes I have created and find freedom to move on, and leave them behind?

All these things swim around my head, as I ponder another great adventure. Something on someone else's bucket list, that maybe I can be a part of. I have finished my list, can I help others complete theirs? What do I have to give?

There is something simple I can give, although it's complex, it's challenging, it's full of sacrifice, and stretching myself, but I was made for such work. I could give a family a gift of a baby. Now hang on, stay with me, it's not my baby, nor is it Valentine's.  It has no genetic link to us or our children. I could be a gestational surrogate. I could carry someone else's baby from embryo to birth.

I know it sounds nuts. I know there are risks. There are things I worry about. Vain things like what will become of my middle aged body. There are family things like what will this mean for my kids, my husband. How tired and grumpy will I be? How awkward will it be for them to answer questions about the baby? We always have something happening, something going on, isn't our life busy enough? There are so many reasons not to do this.

But there are so many reasons to do this. This couple who we don't even know yet, who we have yet to choose and be chosen by, they can't have a child of their own, they are at the end of their rope, they have a string of failures. I have two shining successes. I have two easy birth stories. We are talking scheduled inductions, very short labors, laughing in the delivery room type births. I have this body that handled pregnancy and birth well. I have the most supportive family and friends. I am able, I am willing. I can be trusted. Parents entrust their kids to me all the time and I take that very seriously. I have a drug free body, and except for maybe twice a year, alcohol free too. I eat well. On paper, I am a perfect candidate for a family in need of a womb. Mentally I am blessed with experience to handle this. I know what it's like to bond and have to let go. I care very deeply for my students I share life with them, and then they grow up and move on, and we have limited contact. I understand that bond and distance, the struggles and the joys of that life. I am well prepared. My family is well prepared as they have bonded and loved those students too. My kids understand a broader meaning of family, and they know what it means to love and cherish those that are far away. We have so much we can give, by sharing our lives with a family for a year, as I share my body.

It's also not without rewards. While it comes down to $3 and hour in compensation for pain and suffering, it still is something. It's something to help atone for those mistakes. To help free us to give more, to allow our kids to kick some things off of their bucket lists. We also get to enjoy being a part of someone else's' story, giving them a family. Making their dreams come true. There is much that we will gain. Maybe it's not such a sacrifice after all. Well, no, I remember the sleepless nights, the painful muscles, the vomiting, the fatigue.

So we are pondering, we are interviewing, we are testing. We are leaning into the possibility and the opportunity. Who knows what will come of it. Maybe nothing. Perhaps the doctors will discover my body cannot do this anymore. Maybe we won't find a family we clique with. Maybe the pregnancy attempts won't take. God can shut the door so easily in so many ways. We are working with an agency. We are in process, though nothing medically would happen until at least August. We haven't started the matching process either.

If it doesn't work out, maybe there is another mile for me to walk, a different sacrifice of praise, thanksgiving and atonement I can walk. Something else to challenge myself with, something else to give and make others dreams come true, some other way to love my neighbors more fully.

We don't share this to ask for permission, or to say look at us, look at what we can do. We share because we value our community of friends, the broad group of people that have been such a wonderful part of our lives. We value your ideas, experiences and opinions. We know that your support has been vital to our family. We have been testing the waters a bit, sharing this idea with people here and there, but as we are getting further in the process, we wanted to inform more people. So as we step foot on this path and check it out, we ask for your prayers. If you have any worries, fears, doubts, negativity, you can talk to me about it, but talk now before we have traveled far enough down the road that we can't turn back. Before I potentially get knocked up ;) And if nothing else, let this be a reminder not to take your blessings for granted, and to use whatever gifts and abilities you have to be a blessing to others.

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