Escondido, CA
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‘Setting the record straight’

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of Times-Advocate.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of Times-Advocate.

It happened a year ago last month. The envelope was thrown in the “not-urgent-yet-should-be-opened-soon” pile of mail on our dining room table. After a few days I picked it up and opened it, not knowing that my life would be forever changed.

The envelope contained a family portrait and a letter from someone who claimed to be my half-sister! She informed me that I should have regular check-ups at the doctor because heart disease runs in the family. She shared that her dad – our dad – told her a few years ago that out there somewhere she had a half-brother from a previous marriage of his. She decided that it was the right time in her life to look for me.

She asked what it was like growing up as an adopted child. The crazy thing is that, well, she assumed that I knew I was adopted.

Needless to say, I was perplexed. I couldn’t make sense of what was written so I handed the letter to Danica. “What does this mean?” I asked her. She replied rather slowly and timidly, “Oh… umm, this means that Joe isn’t your biological father.”

This was a shock to me because my parents worked hard to ensure that I wouldn’t know. I can only speculate as to why: I guess much of it had to do with the era they grew up in and the way they were raised.

Deep down inside I knew. The indicators were there, yet I had this uncanny ability to create my own reality. We all do. It’s part of what makes us human. We’re subjective beings and we create our own realities in order to cope with life the best way we know how.

Here’s the clincher: oftentimes our reality isn’t reality. It isn’t real or true. And reality has a way of coming to the surface and displaying to the world the truth of the matter.

This reminds me of Jesus’ words: “…there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” (Luke 8:17-NIV). This is a universal truth.

Yep, you can count on reality, sooner or later, rearing its ugly head and forcing you to deal with whatever it is you need to deal with in life. This is called mercy.

Mercy! Reality is God’s mercy on display! He desires for “mercy to triumph over judgment” (James 2:12- 13), yet it’s on you. You get to choose. (Perhaps reality’s head isn’t so ugly after all.) God loves you and me so much that He’ll provide opportunities for us to deal with our stuff – our baggage – before it’s too late.

One way or the other, our baggage is going to be dealt with. The question is this: would you like to deal with it on this side of eternity or the other side? I don’t know about you, but I’d rather travel to the other side luggage-free. No need to check in any luggage and no need for a carry-on either, no sir.

Ever since I opened that envelope a year ago last month, reality’s head has been far from ugly. On the contrary, with all of the recent developments it has been indescribably beautiful! Reality can be beautiful for you too because God doesn’t play favorites (Acts 10:34). What He’s done for me He desires to do for you as well because “He works all things together for good unto those who love Him…” (Romans 8:28) and “He makes all things beautiful in its time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

He makes all things beautiful in its time. Is that a reality in your life?

~ Paul and Danica Bartelme have been married for 23 years and have three children age 13 years and under. Jacob (13), Lily (11), and Luke (10). They’ve been residents of Escondido for 12 years and love Harley motorcycles and good music. They pastor Escondido’s very own Sanctuary Church.

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