I love the show, “This Is Us.” I can’t help it. I ugly cry every episode. And then I make Kurt go back and watch it just to torture him, and I ugly cry all over again. While far from perfect (definitely mature themes), this show taps into a part of me that needs to emote sometimes.
To the outside world, my family looks very different. My three children were adopted as infants, and happen to be Mexican-American, Caucasian, and African-American. In my head I can sing just like Mandy Moore, and I can totally picture Kurt pulling off a Jack Pearson ‘stache. We’re so “This Is Us!”
Maybe in the future I’ll talk about raising a transracial family (okay, maybe not. I may never be that brave/stupid). Right now, God’s gently teaching this little lamb about self-pity and pride.
I cry when I watch “This Is Us” usually because I start thinking, “Yes, see! People don’t know how hard this is! We’re different and special and deserve special treatment because this is so hard!” Then – usually within the same episode – I cry and think, “People don’t know how awesome this is! We’re different and special and deserve special treatment because we’re so awesome!”
I finally realized this self-pity and pride are two sides of the same coin: selfishness. I deserve special treatment because my sad story is “sadder” than your sad story. Or, I deserve special treatment because I’ve been blessed in different ways than you’ve been blessed. In the past they called it “navel-gazing.” Essentially, it just means to be so fixated on yourself, you’re too busy staring at your belly-button to look up and see what’s going on in the world around you. So what do we do with that?
I think it’s relationship. Relationship with the Heavenly Father, and relationship with people, one-on-one.
Go ahead and cry, scream, throw things. Brag, exalt, and talk about how deserving you are. Just first do it with Jesus (preferably not in public). Feel your feelins’. Live in the moment when it strikes. Then fall into His comforting arms, or let Him give you a gentle reminder of how you ain’t Him and don’t deserve anything He hasn’t given you. Do it every day if you need to, until you can move on. But then do move on. The Bible says He is, “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God (2 Cor. 1:3-4).”
It’s a mouthful but basically it means, find comfort from Him and then go comfort others!
My friend has a child with Down Syndrome, plus like three whole other kids (on purpose!). Her oldest is 14 and still wears diapers. And needs them. Think: she’s been changing diapers for FOUR. TEEN. YEARS. Multiple times a day. He’s high-functioning – talkative, dances like a rapper, plays basketball better than I – but because of an infection as an infant where he lost a great portion of his intestine, still needs a diaper. Wouldn’t think it’s a big deal? Think again. Not gonna give you the minutiae, but it’s an hourly paradigm shift of what entails a “normal life.”
And she is the most beautiful shining example of loveliness and joy I’ve ever encountered in my life. You’d almost never know her rainbow was ever shattered. My friend’s family is joyous. They don’t negate the obvious, they acknowledge the difficulty, the sacrifice, but not a day goes by without them reaching out to others to see how they’re doing and how they can help.
And my friend’s friend (her hero, the wind beneath her wings, the one she dreams about being when she grows up😊), has a family comprised of multiple races and complicated birthfamily relationships, had a foster son who threw her six ways to Sunday, and legitimately has foot-in-mouth disease.
When my friend and I get together we get the joy joy joy down in our hearts, Man. We laugh until we cry and then we cry until we laugh about the realities of being prideful, ignorant, willful, wonderful, hilarious, and all growns-upped.
Dichotomy. Fancy word for Bothsies. You can have it both ways. Acknowledging our difficulties is not the same as wallowing in them. Being joyful is not the same as being naïve.
Relationship is how we get there – we ALL deserve special treatment. The good news is, we do all get special treatment because Jesus CHOSE us and LOVES us and is always always here to give us every good and perfect gift. James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
I have grown to love YOU, you big weirdo.”
Jesus and I don’t care what you look like. We don’t care if Ben was stuck in the hospital when he was born because his birthmom couldn’t pull herself together. We don’t care if Canaan needs a diaper or that your teenager freaked out and kicked a hole in your wall. We care about your kids and (more importantly) we care about you. I looked past my own belly button and have grown to love you, you big weirdo. I’m here to babysit and clean up things and be too loud with, and in return, you get to tell me when I’ve said something super-offensive and that I’m much too old to wear this outfit.
One at a time we can get there if we look UP to Him and look OUT to others. Person by person. YOU are special and different and boring and normal, and so is the person next to you. Dichotomy.