Oceans Between Us…

 

Oceans Between Us – Jenni Cockerham *

Almost exactly 2 years ago to the day I penned these words*. It is a mini memoir that was written mostly for me. But it was written with others in mind…those who have had hard histories…who were struggling or disillusioned with life…or God. I think I have spent the past few years spiritually disoriented…after having spent the past few decades so very clear.

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Healing Doesn’t Work…

Confession: I’ve stopped trying to heal.

I came home from Uganda in April…shell-shocked and in survival mode. We let down our defenses and I immediately got to work…doing my best big girl job to heal. I did all the right things…went to my counselor within less than 24 hours of arriving on US soil. We took a month at the beach to adjust to the western culture and to quietly unlock the grief box. And I did pretty well. I grew angry and shook my fist at God, I doubted and questioned, and then grew sad–unashamedly sad, and the stages of grief rapidly unfolded in textbook fashion.

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The Church is Broken

I wrote this blog a few weeks back. Once I heard the news of the heinous hate crime that occurred in a church Charleston, I really began to rethink the timing of my post. That said, I find the words relevant…and still worth sharing. Ironic to be sure, but I write this with sensitivity, respect and heartfelt sympathy for those whose lives were lost last week.

Walking through the doors of your local church could be one of the riskiest things you do all week. In a place where healing, health, and love should flow from every interaction…we often times are met with fear, failure, and brokenness instead.

Don’t know your history…whether you have been attending church since birth, having never missed a Sunday morning, Sunday night or Wednesday evening service. You may be one who has never (and has no intention to ever step foot in church) and you have your reasons and I respect them. But more likely you are somewhere in between…you have gone, used to go, or attend occasionally.

Have you ever walked in to church and then did a 180 degree about-face pretending you left something in the car? Have you sat in a service and something the pastor said caused you to feel so very uncomfortable, you felt you might come out of your skin if you had to sit there a moment longer? And so you left? Have you felt judged by the eyes of those around you? Lonely in the midst of hundreds of people?

No? Guess it’s just me then.

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The 30 Second Version

 

30 second

This is written for all those who don’t know…but care.

I know you care because you asked. And I wanted to figure out how to give you the 30 second version while we were washing our hands in the bathroom at church, or in the checkout line at Target, or while we were pumping gas before you scurried off to work…but I couldn’t do it.

I also realized when I tried to formulate the words for the 30 second version, I was much better at writing than delivering a verbal summary of an 18-month epic adventure. So I don’t blame you for not knowing, I just appreciate you taking the time to come here and not expecting me to fumble through something I am clearly still fumbling through.

Cause I really am better. I am not in my shaking mad phase any more. I am not doubting God’s goodness as much. I am not choosing a bitter agnostic outlook on life.  I am ready to go to church and the grocery store and the gas station…so that’s an improvement. I am out of the sweatpants phase, certainly that points to growth?! But I am not quite in the place where I can fully give you the 30 second version without making you feel slightly uncomfortable.

So if you don’t know–and Lord knows I don’t expect folks to wait on baited breath for the latest installment of the crazy Cockerham adventures–please know I humbly understand. Let’s just think of this as grabbing a quick cup of coffee together. Remembering our other option was for me to look at the floor and then up at you awkwardly wishing you hadn’t asked where our adopted children are–or when we were going back to Africa to get our kiddos–or how’s life going now with 5 kids–or any other sincerely kind questions you simply didn’t know the answer to. It is less awkward and fumbly for us to catch up here. I will leave without a pit in my stomach and tears in my eyes…and you will have the scoop. We are all better in the end.

Not sure what you knew or where we left off so here goes:

October 2013 we went to Uganda to adopt 2 kiddos.

November 2013 we were granted legal guardianship of those 2 precious kiddos, but told we must stay in Uganda for 3 years…so I stayed with all 5 children and Chris went back to North Carolina.

March 2014 We were hopeful to appeal our court case–but also were growing fatigued from the wait so Chris decided to join our family adventures in Uganda taking a leave of absence.

May 2014 We realized it could be a long wait and possibly not receive an appeal, so Chris resigned his job at Hope Holly Springs and Chris accepted a position at Restoration Gateway to serve on their team.

Late June 2014 We moved to Restoration Gateway.

July 2014 It was discovered/confirmed that Jonathan and Caroline were NOT true double orphans and had living parents.

July 2014 Jonathan and Caroline were returned to their families.

July 2014-March 2014 The Cockerham Family stayed in Northern Uganda serving at Restoration Gateway.

Insert Jim Gaffigan’s high pitched squeaky disapproving voice:  Wow, sad story. But that wasn’t so bad? Hasn’t she been away from the kids for almost a year now? Does she think she can do better than their own flesh and blood? What’s her problem? Isn’t it great news for her kids to be reunited with their families? 

Yes, but what takes longer than 30 seconds is that there are little people I love in Uganda who are hurting. Reliable sources say at least one of the two is suffering even. I don’t know the full extent but I know life is far from happily ever after. This is not spoken by a bitter woman wishing for a diverse stair-step family photo, nor disappointed she won’t be able to color coordinate five kids’ outfits for church. I am not a western mom who believes she can provide more, etc. It is an unjust ending for a child whose physical, emotional, and mental needs are not being met. It is innately mommy to want your child to avoid pain. Therefore, it is a debilitating place to know your hands are tied and it is the “right thing to do;” because he should never have been trafficked by his family in the first place. But the sting still stings and the grief is still close and it is still too soon to deliver the 30 second version. And so for that reason…we are here grabbing coffee and I am grateful. Feel free to sit down to coffee again soon…we may talk about this or other messy life matters…but in my heart this is the safest place for me to share my story with you.

So…just…thanks.

Humbly,

Jenni

 

 

 

 

I Need a Time Out

This weekend I made the intentional (and what many would say extremely selfish) decision to not go away with my family to one of the most magical places on earth. I intentionally decided to hang back, to be alone. Because I simply could not go.

Actually I could go…but I really didn’t want to.

(Insert Jim Gaffigan’s voice here) How can she do that?  How can she be so selfish to miss out on Family Camp at Windy Gap?  She will miss out on the horse rides, ropes course, music, skits and games. Won’t her husband the be Lone Ranger in the hoe down?  (Louder and more high pitched:) Doesn’t she know her kids NEED her? Doesn’t she know her children live for this weekend each year? Shouldn’t she choose another weekend to be so selfish?  Why? Why would you not go with your family to family camp this weekend? Why?

Because I need a time out.

Did you ever put your kid in time out because you needed one? Who knows what might have happened if you hadn’t put him in time out? A few minutes more without the time out and the neighbors would be bringing social services to your front door?

What appeared to be punishment for the child was actually for their protection.

(No? Just me then.)

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And Round and Round We Go

That is me…going round and round and round. Flying, suspended, arms and legs dangling, really not sure when or where she will land. Daring to ask God the difficult questions. There is no way to “church up” this blog.

Reader caution advised: If you are uncomfortable with questioning the Christian status quo or with God being placed in the line of fire…just. stop. reading.

Why all the rants lately? Take it down a notch. Boy, she’s really got a bee in her bonnet.

My italicized words in my blog are often delivered in my head in the voice of Jim Gaffigan.  Actually not Jim…but Jim’s high pitched disapproving voice of someone questioning the bizarre things he comments on like cake or hot pockets. Feel free to read from here forward in this way. My blog will be funnier and surprisingly, make more sense.    .

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