pure and genuine

Discovering the truth about ourselves is a lifetime’s work, but it’s worth the effort. – Fred Rogers

About six years ago, just as I was preparing to disembark with my husband from the dry, rutted, rocky road of infertility treatments, I recall saying to him something along the lines of “Something is wrong with me.  I have no urge to do anything for anyone.  I don’t want to volunteer anywhere, I don’t want to donate anything.  I used to feel so strongly about this and now I’ve got nothing.”

It was a weird time in our life, but even stranger for me, who at the age of eight or so (and probably about as precocious as is possible) I had typed up a short essay entitled “The World, a Child’s Point of View,” about all the wrong things in the world, how I couldn’t sleep at night about them, and how we should all work together to fix things.  My parents had passed it to our pastor who quoted it in a sermon.

I cringe to think of it.  The fact that I had my own typewriter at that age is telling.  (Cough)  dork  (cough, cough).

I worked with a friend to write an expose about global warming when I was in middle school.  In Junior High I helped coordinate a drive for appliances for a local “soup kitchen” that landed me and a bunch of my precocious friends on the front page of our small town paper.

It really DID keep me up at night, all of it.  During high school and college I would occasionally get very depressed and my close friends knew I was in one of my “What a world…. what a world” moods.

How then was it that at age 26 or so, I just didn’t care?  If I were to go back, I would think it was depression.  It was the depression of infertility, the unfairness of it all – it also had to do with something that is clear to me now.  My husband and I weren’t going to church.  We were living in a town neither of us had grown up in, and we didn’t have a church.  And we weren’t finding one.  We weren’t looking.

Around that time, I felt that familiar urge to seek.  I knew enough to know that something was missing.  I found a scripture that meant something to me:

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. – James 1:27

That scripture changed everything.  I typed it up and hung it in my cubicle at my old office.  I looked at it every day.  Service could be my faith.  I could get back to where I had been, when I had sat on the floor of my bedroom and typed up an essay about the wrongs in the world because I couldn’t get them out of my head.

My husband and I started church shopping.  At one church, I noticed in the program that our local Hospice program needed volunteers to sit with the dying.  Fear of death is a trigger for me, but I looked at the scripture from James 1:27 and decided that it was a challenge I needed to pursue.

Around the same time, my husband and I started volunteering at a no-kill animal shelter on a couple weekends a month.  We would take the abused, neglected, abandoned, un-wanted animals and walk them or pet them or take them to adoption fairs.

I began to feel myself come back to life, and around that time we visited a local Presbyterian church that would become our church home.  The pastor preached a sermon that brought tears to my eyes and I knew it was where we were supposed to be.  And very shortly thereafter a local Christian non-profit with a great reputation was looking for an executive director.  I threw my hat in the ring with much hesitation, but recommendations from parishioners at my new church and a surreal interview that was competely guided by the Holy Spirit ended with my being offered the job.  And then, I had to decide if I was really ready to give up my great retirement plan and benefit package with my safe job and truly step out in Faith to do something worth doing.

I had to be the precocious 8 year-old again.

I look back now and see so clearly that God was guiding my life from the time I discovered that scripture.  It was only a few months after I started my new job that we began our first adoption process.  And I was sitting there at my desk when I saw my son’s face for the first time.  That old worn piece of paper hanging only a few feet away.

I am nowhere near where I want to be spiritually, or as a person in this crazy world.  Sometimes I still feel like everything is screwed up beyond repair.  But I have been rewarded in my life for having faith.  And the rewards were not the direct answer to what I pleaded for in prayer, if that had been the case I would have gotten pregnant – and my boys would not be my boys.  God had something more perfect for me waiting.  The lesson for me has been that it is not enough to have faith – unless there is action.

So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. – James 2:17

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “pure and genuine

  1. Beautiful. How do you always manage to bring me to tears!? You have a gift for sharing your thoughts with us so eloquently. I am so GLAD you are blogging again, I could read your posts all day long 🙂 xo

  2. What a blessing, Kelly! Thank you so much for sharing. I’ve noticed that same pattern in my life – when I neglect my relationship with God and the community of others, I no longer have the strength that I need to respond to the heart God gave me – a heart for others. When I get drained, God uses it as a way to remind me that I was trying to save the world out of my own strength and abilities – not as a vessel of the Lord.

    Love you! Keep up the blogging!

  3. Sara

    What an awesome testimony. It reminds me of my favorite Anne Lemot(t?) quote: “God always opens a window. He just doesn’t tell us when.” I agree that I am so happy to read your writing again!!

  4. connie rademan

    You always impress me with your giving and careing for others, and I have become a better person just knowing you

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