Let's Do Better, Dear Church

1.  This post is not specific to any one person
2.  This post is not about all of the "wrong" things people have said to me in this adoption process and therefore you should feel bad for even trying to be my friend 
3.  This post is to maybe have us call in question ourselves and maybe to challenge ourselves to step a little differently

"God has a plan for you" *  "God will never give you more than you can handle"  *        "God's timing is perfect" * "I am praying for you" * "It will all be perfect, you will see" *"God is Sovereign"*

This is a challenge to the church.  I am wondering....can we do better than this?  Can we do better than these simple answers to our brothers and sisters who are weary, tired, struggling, or hanging on by a thread?  Those that are maybe wondering if God hears them and then in turn, after sharing with you, they might wonder if you really hear them!  The fact of the matter is, some of us are terrible at holding people well.  Holding people's pain well.  We are not accustomed to this.  First of all, we are not accustomed to even being open about our own struggles, let alone knowing how to hold someone else's struggles.  

Jen Hatmaker charged it best when she noted 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 "But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.  So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us."  You see, I am not sure if I can honestly say that I hold people well.  That I cherish them.  That people know they are dear to me.  And I am talking about my own friends, y'all!  Because when I ask someone how they are doing, I am not fully sure that I mean that I really want to hear the real answer.  And then when someone gives me a real answer, I tend to pull out one of the responses above.  Why? Because I have a list in my head of things I need to do, I see someone across the way I need to speak to, I wasn't really meaning to stand there for a while and talk through something.  So really.....I shouldn't have asked in the first place!

But what if......what if someone shared a struggle with me, or that they are really weary in waiting on God's answer to a prayer, or they are feeling as though they are being attacked on all sides.  I actually make sure they know they are dear to me.  I don't first assume that they have lost all trust and faith in God so I remind them, "God has a plan for you".  Really? Because someone saying they are weary doesn't really mean that they are questioning the Lord's plan in their life right?  Was I really listening?  Did I hear them say, "I am just not sure God has a plan for me!"  No....they were saying, "I am growing weary in the waiting".  Maybe I could just say, "I am sure you are.  What are some ways I could come alongside you?  What are ways I can sit in this weariness with you?"  And maybe when I respond with "God will never give you more than you can handle", I am really saying, "I cannot handle what you are saying right now".  Because that phrase is not Biblical.  The truth of the matter is, God does give us more than we can handle so that we might turn to Him for His strength, His plan, His wisdom.  If we had everything in our life that we could handle...what is the use for the Lord?  So, yes....sometimes people are going to have more than they can handle to get them to look up!  

In Genesis 16 Hagar runs away from Sarah because she was being treated so poorly for a situation Hagar did not ask to be put in!  An angel of the Lord came to Hagar and asked her where she had come from and where she was headed.  She explains, and then the angel continues to tell her what is going to happen.  Then at the end Hagar says, "You are the God who sees me...Have I truly seen the One who sees me?"  You see, the angel didn't say, "Go back to Sarah and trust in God's plan...we will be praying for your heart."  The angel listened to where she was and where she was headed.  The angel spoke to her in a way that made her know that the Lord saw her!  

People want to be seen for where they are and where they are headed.  People want to know that you see them!  See them right where they are......even if it is in the middle of a wilderness after running away.  

Please know, friends, this is not a passive aggressive way to get people to respond to me in a certain way when I say, I AM WEARY IN THIS WAIT!  The truth of the matter is, I just never really realized how often I hear these responses.  And it made me question if I was coming across as though I lost trust in God's plan.  If I had lost belief in the truth that God is really Sovereign.  If I am questioning His timing.  And then I realized the amount of times the same responses come out of my mouth.  Then I would walk away going....do they feel the same way I do when I walk away?  Do they feel as though they have been seen?  Do they know that I am a friend who wants to walk with them well?  Do they know I am not afraid to hear the real in their life?  And so I write this in hopes that maybe you might seek the sensitivity the next time you ask, "how are things?"  Ask it because they are dear enough to you to hear the real answer.  And dear enough to you to hold that answer with care.  And sometimes one just needs to say, "I wish I knew the right thing to say".  Because you know what, just yesterday I messaged a friend that I know is walking through some hard times and I let her know, "I am praying for you".  And while I meant that with great sincerity!  And I am indeed praying!  Did that make her feel seen?  loved?  cherished? cared for?  

And I think that's what our world is desperately in need of - lovers, people who are building deep, genuine relationships with fellow strugglers along the way, and who actually know the faces of the people behind the issues they are concerned about.” 
Shane Claiborne, The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical
(NOTE: my current read and it is wrecking me!)

You see friends, I am weary in this wait.  Most days are normal.  Some days are hard.  Some days I cry most of the day.  Every day my heart aches.  But I have a big trust in the Lord.  My faith is stronger then it has ever been.  And I know that His plans are perfect.  That just doesn't change where I am right now.  Weary.  And we have many brothers and sisters around us weary for different reasons.  And that weariness is not a definition of their current faith status.  Current trust status.  Or current belief status.  It is just the state of their heart.  Just as Hagar was found in the wilderness we might have to go to the wilderness to let our friends know that they are seen, heard, and dear!   

And if you, friend, are a weary one.  You are in the wilderness of your journey right now.  I want you to know that you are not alone.  I want you to know that when you say you are weary in waiting on God's plan, that is just a confirmation in the fact that your trust, faith, and hope in the Lord is probably bigger than those who are not where you are.  The truth of the matter is, you could walk away from this wait if you wanted to......but the fact that you are waiting acknowledges the fact that you have a calling on your life given by the Lord and you are walking out that calling with all that you know how to do and with the Lord firmly by your side.  I rejoice in this wait with you because I rejoice in being called with you.  I do not want my responses to make you feel at arms length because I have a fear to meet you in your mess.  Rather, I want to draw you near to me and say, your mess makes my mess a little bit cleaner as opposed to me feeling the need to clean up the mess.  

Church.  We can do better.  We must do better.  Our people in our walls need us to and the people outside of our walls really need us to.  Make someone dear to you this week.  I mean, really dear.  Cherished.  Share not only the gospel with them, truth, but also, share your life with them.  Your real life.  Who knows what kind of life will happen in your heart the moment you do.

**Please note this blog post was written in conjunction with my friends Rory, Amber, Catherine, and Kimberly.  These are challenges we have been asking each other.  Sometimes the above are my words, other times they are theirs.....so I fully credit them for this writing.  And I credit them for being dear sisters who are called with me.


  1. I love this Suzanne. It's hard to keep it real sometimes, but we do each other a favor when we do. I want to have authentic responses too.

  2. really, really well said, Suzanne. Thank you for writing this. I just love every word !!

  3. In tears because you love so well Suzanne. Even though I have "sat" with you via video diaries, and even though we have hashed out many of these conversations, I walk away challenged. Not only in this adoption journey but as I walk into my church on Sunday morning and greet people, as I encounter my neighbors and the gas station attendant and the waitress bringing my meal...Do I see them. Do I? I know how much I treasure being seen by God, and it means so much when HE come to me in the PEOPLE He sends. I want to be one of those people who sees. Thanks Suzanne. I love you!

  4. You are incredible! This is such a blessing for our adoption community to hear! This is all stuff I counsel families on as they wait, how to be prepared for these questions, and this aching wait. You have summarized it so beautifully. Thank you for your words, your faith, your commitment to the adoption community, and your commitment to your child. You have stepped up and not turned away, even in spite of the heartache. Bless you my sweet friend!

  5. Suzanne, I'm so happy you wrote today, but it's always weird to cry at my desk at school! As you know I'm not in the adopotion community...today I'm having issues with my car. When money is tight...car troubles make me want to hide in a closet. I actually had someone tell me today that God doesn't give you things you can't handle. I know they meant it from their heart, but I wanted today say...I'm about to cry over my car issues, I'm obviously not handleing it well, God! But you made so much sense today! He does give you more than you can handle to see how you handle it! Thanks for making it real and for making God a little more real today. Instead of me thinking, God...do you know me at all...'cause I think you think I can handle more than I can!

    On a different note, I have never once felt as if you didn't care! So, even if in your mind you are thinking of your grocery list...I have always felt special and felt as if you were listening to what I was saying! So, never doubt what your friendship means to others! Even with you going through such waiting and heartache over your future baby, you have never made my "silly" problems feel anything other than important and I hope that I can contintue (or start) to do the same for you!