The “fairness” of life…
There’s a story behind every situation and a life behind every story. This past week, we spent six wonderful days in Florida. We have stayed for many years in the Vero Beach area. This is our one family vacation each year so we desire it to be simple and relaxing. However, with one of the homes we would stay at being sold recently and other houses having limited availability, we went looking for a new vacation home. We are not picky, but the price had to be right and the home needed to accommodate a family of seven.
After searching for a couple of weeks, I found a home in Ormond Beach. It was a beautiful home, boasting 2,600 square feet [more than two times the size of our home in Okemos], three bedrooms, two baths and one nicely heated pool. I thought, there has to be a story behind this home – it was inexpensive to rent – less expensive than a hotel room in Daytona, but in a very desirable, at least for us, location – about 100 yards from the bay and 300 yards from the Atlantic Ocean. So, I went searching and asking.
The story is simple but somewhat heartbreaking. A couple of years ago, this home was purchased by a husband and wife as their “dream retirement home.” Over the years, they had spent many weeks in the Ormond Beach area. It was the place they were looking to settle down in order to spend their retirement years. Within a year of moving to Florida, the husband was diagnosed with an incurable cancer at the age of 63 years old. On June 2, 2012, a few months after moving to Florida, he passed away. One week later, their daughter would be married. With the loss of this husband, it forced a hardship on his wife. She decided her only option was to sell this home and live closer to one of her daughters. With the housing market still saturated in this out of the way community, she was unable to sell the property and desired not to default on the loan. As a result, her realty company offered to rent the property to vacationers to help pay the mortgage until the market rebounds. They cleaned out the house, packed boxes which would be stored in the garage and set up the home for people who would be looking for a place to come, rest and relax. This is where our family steps into the story. This would be the house we would rent for the week. I will often tell people, if it is to good to be true, it is – and most of the time it is. Amazingly, of the 500+ houses I looked at renting, this was the most affordable house, less expensive than any other place we’ve ever stayed, but one of the nicest by far. Most definitely for this fairly young couple, this is not what they believed their retirement years would hold. After learning their story, I was glad to know we rented this house for the week. And next year if the opportunity presents itself, we will rent the same home again.
If there is one thought I know to be true, life isn’t always what we might say is “fair.” In light of our surroundings, we need to make the most of what we have been given…big or little, great or small. Sometimes it is easy and other times, it is most difficult. You have to deal with it. You have to work through it. You have to make the most of it. All the while, you embrace it. All in all, it is God who gives you the ability and the wisdom to do this, and to stand strong for Him. We’ve learned this lesson with our own children. Their history isn’t what they asked for, but together, we work through their story. It was the other day as I was putting the kids to bed, pulling up the covers, kissing them goodnight, Caleigh looked at me and said, “Dad…have you ever met my real mom?” Jody was away traveling and my first thought was – great timing. It goes without saying, I was taken back by her question. My response was short and succinct. “No, I have not.” Hoping she would move on, the next question came: “Why did she give me up?” As I am standing next to her bed, with my jaw hanging low to the ground, I am thinking to myself, the professionals say these questions shouldn’t come until the age of 13, if ever. We’ve sat in the adoption classes. We’ve heard all the questions and all of the right answers. On this night, one thought I could reassure not only Caleigh with, but Chloe and Jackson alike is, each of our children’s biological parents loved them – and loved them dearly. How do I know this? How can I be so certain? Because, they are all here today. They were all placed in populated areas where they would be found. They weren’t thrown into the river. They weren’t left in an open field susceptible to the elements. They weren’t dumped in buckets of water. Yes, I have read the stories and seen the testimonies. They were placed in a populated park, left at a hospital and on the doorstep of an orphanage. In the recesses of my mind, I can only imagine but will never know, the parents love for these kids or how hard it was for these parents to place them, for one reason or another, in a strategic location, only to turn around and walk away. Walk away! I have imagined this. I have tried my best to stand in their shoes. I have attempted to embrace their hurt, their loss and their immeasurable pain. I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the videos. I’ve watched their first hand testimonies – with tears streaming down my face – trying to grasp the unimaginable reality of this picture. The right perspective and my perspective is – I have the greatest respect for these parents who for whatever reason, and their motives stretch far and wide, gave these children up. No, life isn’t always fair in our shallow, even sometimes ignorant eyes. But what I can assure you of is this: in the end, I do not judge. I do not look down upon. I do not cast criticism nor do I question. I respect and honor. I revere their love, their care, their grace and their compassion for these kids for the opportunity they gave to each one and to us. And today, I / we embrace not only their history – the past, but their story – what we will write as we journey through life together as a family.