Four years ago when I began my blog I simply needed a fun way to practice writing skills and share my passion for photography. It was some of the best creative fun I found and I sincerely became an artist with a platform to blossom to full fragrance. I wrote about every topic that was interesting for me. I shared deeply personal stories with the intention to highlight some virtue I was pursuing. If it might be meaningful and helpful to someone other than myself, I let it out, all raw, ugly and vulnerable. Doing that only gave me relief and a sense to stand taller, it never scared me. I have a resilience to being judged by others who are on the sidelines. Critics with all talk and no action have no voice to reach me. Unless someone is in it, getting hurt, dirty, and going back for more there’s nothing they can say that matters to me.
And then…our calling to adoption unfolded as I blogged. I didn’t have a five year plan for adoption that I revealed. My heart was burst wide open for a culture and a cause. I shared it all as we discovered what God intended for our family. And then as we were drawn clearly into orphan care in Uganda I was open and honest with the way we discovered how to obey the direction God was leading our family. Writing is top on my pile of talents. It is my favorite gift, both to enjoy for myself and to share with others. Opening my vulnerabilities and exploring them for the purpose of developing courage and insight never caused me an ounce of anxiety. I’m fairly secure with who I am. It’s a nice way to be in this world.
And then…we were duped. I experienced a darkness surround me that sent me into my shell like the turtle I occasionally like to be. Our good intentions to help orphans were trampled and used to serve the selfish ambitions of adults in Uganda, not once but twice. When we discovered how far off course the use of our funds had gone we were bold and we stood up against it. We fought for justice. We went to court. We went face to face with a dangerous, devious thug.
And then… at one point as I stood in a court room on a continent not my own, with a language I couldn’t understand, with a justice system that may not provide I understood for the first time in my life what true vulnerability felt like. The honest open words I had written in my blog were taken out of context, twisted, and used against me to beat me down to a heap of bloody brokenness. What I had written to openly share was used against me as a weapon of war. I was called ugly names in a public court room with a finger pointing in my face and I endured it for hours and hours over multiple days.
And then… my voice was silenced. I was shown I did not have the freedom of speech I thought was a birth right and gift of God. The passion of growing up American and knowing we have the freedom to say and write our own minds was put in a box and labled “lie”. It was taken away and the threat of punishment or more abuse stood guard on my words. “If you write what you think you will be held in contempt of court.” … “If you write that it will hurt our case.”… “If you say that then you give them more ammunition.” … “Please don’t say anything.” That’s the same as asking me to shrivel up, go into my shell, and fear the abuse waiting outside.
But I am not a victim. I am a fighter. I know my mind. I know what I believe and I know what’s right. People should not steal from orphaned children so they can enjoy some pleasure. And I’ll stomp on anyone who tries to do that on my watch. While my hands and feet were in action, my fingers could no longer reach the truth on the keyboard. I limited my blog to sharing the good news about how we persevered and opened our own orphanage. The beauty that is exploding in our children’s home every day is my inspiration, my relief, and my unity with God. I feel like it is the reward for our suffering a harsh boot camp. I write only the stories that don’t let others inside my turtle shell. My writer is still wounded and bleeding, and truthfully, I’m currently licking wounds that I hope will heal.
What am I risking if I write the truth? As I said critics who aren’t getting bloody don’t have a hook in me. It’s the fear that I’ll be silenced for good. I’m lurking around for the day when I can say it as it really is. I’m writing but it’s not out there for free any more. And when the time is right my voice on this matter will be heard. I’ll be free again to say the truth and no one can threaten me with jail. There are some very specific people I know in Uganda who will not hurt or use a vulnerable child again if I can do anything about it using the gifts given to me. And I don’t have revenge on my mind. I hope to educate others how to be aware of the unspoken obstacles of orphan care. I hope to inspire others to go out and give it their best and persevere when the water fills the boat, the sky is dark and the sea roars. There’s an element to the whole experience that I think is hilarious. I’ll laugh my way through it and invite the reader to join me. My voice hasn’t dried up, it’s gaining momentum and building strength in a private gym rather than the public jungle gym of the wide open web.
God willing, some day I’ll be free to write as I once believed was a birthright. For now…some privacy has been refreshing however short lived.