By Charlie Beal
My Life is Not My Own
Go ahead and say it with me, “My life is not my own.” It sounds pretty powerful, doesn’t it? For me, saying these words is exhilarating. It gives me visions of being the selfless person I’ve always wanted to be…a life-changer, and somewhat of a hero. It makes my chest puff out, my muscles feel a little bigger, and my self-esteem sky rocket. But in truth, when I stop and really think about what these words mean, my selfish side takes over. The initial joy and motivation the words bring is almost instantly gone when I think of reality of what my life would be if I truly lived by those words. Visions of me never getting time to go on a date with my wife, never getting time to myself, or never getting to take a guys golf trip, are all that fill my mind. The new truck I want, the Hawaiian vacation, the country club membership…all gone.
If you have kids, you probably understand that really, your life is already not fully your own. From the moment you wake up to the time you go to bed, you basically exist to meet their needs and keep them safe. Whether you go to work to make money to support them or make meals, bath them, and comfort them, your every day goal is to take care of them first and yourself second.
Why is this subject even on my mind these days? Well, I’ll try to give you the short version. As you may know, we adopted our sweet boy, Jeremiah, from Ethiopia in March of this year. The night before we left for Ethiopia, I had a dream we would meet our next child on our trip. In the dream, I was hanging out and playing soccer with a boy at an orphanage. At the end of our time together, I told the boy, “If you’re here a year from now, I’ll come back for you.” It was a very vivid dream, but was quickly forgotten when we arrived in Ethiopia because of the hectic first few days we had there. The first day we met our son, the second we actually got to take him with us, the third we went shopping, and the fourth day we visited a few orphanages.
At the second orphanage we visited that day, we blew up balloons and played with many kids. After a few minutes of playing, a 5 year-old boy walked up to me, said something in Amharic, grabbed my hand and led me into the orphanage. Inside, he very proudly showed me his bed and took me back to the classroom where he pointed to English letters and pronounced them as best he could. After getting through about half the alphabet, he grabbed my hand again and led me outside, where he quickly pulled out a soccer ball and kicked it toward me. Like a ton of bricks, memories of my dream hit me at full force. While continuing to kick the ball back and forth and acting like a fool to keep him laughing, all I could think was, “Is this our next child? Is God really doing what I think He’s doing right now?” After a few more minutes of me flopping around like a rag-doll and letting him score goals on me, he suddenly stopped, staring at me intently, and let out a loud karate, “Waaaaa” while striking a Bruce Lee-stance. (Funny, as our 5 year-old daughter was in the “karate” stage.) I thought, “He’s happy, he’s goofy…sounds like a Beal to me.”
A few days later, we saw the boy at the Transitional Home after his doctor check-up and I was fortunate enough to get to play with him a little more before we headed back to the hotel. Before leaving, however, we let a representative from our agency know that, “if he is still on the Waiting Child list in six-months, we would like more information on him.” Long-story-short, he is still on the list and (SURPRISE!!!) he has an older brother…and (SURPRISE-PART DEUX) they both have medical conditions.
After finding out about the brother and the medical conditions, I thought, “We probably don’t have the money to support two more kids, let alone kids with medical conditions.” Plus, I’ve always heard you shouldn’t adopt a child older than your current oldest child. Apparently, it can screw up the dynamic of the “birth order.” With all those reasons, I quickly dismissed the idea of adopting these boys, while Becca continued to bring them up to me. I felt bad, but I’m the man in the relationship. I’m supposed to be the logical one and not do things which could “harm” our family’s future (ie…put us into debt, etc…). Well, after a few months now, Becca hasn’t stop bringing them up to me and to top it off, one night Emmy prayed, “And God if you want these boys in our family, we’ll say yes.” (Picture my jaw hitting the floor and tear-ducts going into full production.) The innocent faith of a 5 year-old can really put things into perspective for a logical-thinking grown-up. Becca and I just looked at each other and agreed we should look into it further.
So here we are, trying to imagine life with 4 kids, a mortgage payment, a school loan payment (which acts like a mortgage payment), day-to-day expenses, all while hearing in the back of our hearts and minds, “My life is not my own.” Those words never ring so true than when I imagine if something happened to Becca and I, and our children were left with no one to love them, care for them, read to them, or hold them. I would want someone to take them in, no matter the cost or hardship their new parents may face. When I think of our children alone, the conviction can’t be any greater. My life is not my own.
Imagine if Jesus decided on the cross, “Nope. I really would like to help you guys out, but this whole thing is putting a lot of stress on me. I mean, let’s be honest, you’re asking a lot of me.” Fortunately, He stayed the course and showed, in the truest sense of the words, “My life is not my own.” So, why shouldn’t we?
Please pray with us as we lay our future in front of God…pray for our hearts and minds…for wisdom and peace with whatever God holds for us. Most importantly, please pray for these two boys…that God would provide a loving family for both of them, whether it’s us or some other family. We serve a mighty God who knows our hearts, knows what we can handle, and knows how to provide in all things.
I’ll close with this…Jesus has prepared an amazing banquet for all who come to Him and there is ALWAYS room for more at His table. Last time I counted (and here’s when I faint), there are 8 chairs at the Beal dining room table. Please pray.