Sunday, June 23, 2013

Pretty Nearly Desperate Now

Today, I'm linking up to No Greater Joy Mom's blog! It's one of the very first adoption blogs that I found, and it's one of the few that I still follow. If you haven't ever checked it out, I would highly encourage you to head over that way! She and her husband have adopted 6 very special needs children (from China, Russia, and Bulgaria), and I cannot tell you how many times her words have given me hope.

When I read her recent blog on adopting children from institutions, I was reminded that I am not alone. There are others who are walking down this road, who understand the challenges of parenting a child who came from one of those dark places. And who also understand the dark and hard places along the journey once you bring that child into your home.

S has been home 10 months, and they have been the hardest, longest, and most challenging of my life! This little girl has made so much progress during this time and has come so far, but it has definitely not been easy!  She has learned so much, and she truly is a different child from the one that walked out of the doors of that orphanage a year ago this past August, but she's also light years away from what most people would consider a "normal" child. 

Through the challenges, the Lord is using this little girl to challenge me to daily live in a place of desperate dependence on the Only One who understands how her little mind is working. He's challenged me to keep my eyes on Him as He alone knows the unknown parts of her story, the hurts and wounds she experienced during those first 6 years in that orphanage. And He is challenging me now to trust Him as He continues to write her story and the story of our family. At this point, I can honestly say that I have no idea what the next few pages and chapters will look like, and that's OK because I can trust The Author. His stories are always the very best ones, and I know deep in my soul (no matter how I feel right now) that this story will end up being a good one, for our greatest good and for His most glorious glory!

The changes we've seen in S truly are remarkable when I step back and look. There are times when I need eyes of faith to see the progress and times I must choose to believe that His hand is indeed healing this precious little girl. And often I have to remind myself that it is happening on His time frame and not on mine. But I know He is working, and I know that His hand is on this little girl's life! And even today, in the midst of yet another round of challenges, I reminded her {and myself} these words and this promise...

For I know the plans I have for you...
plans to prosper you and not to harm you, 
plans to give you a hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11

And just as the Lord is changing S, He's also changing me. Just as we brought her out of that orphanage, He also has brought me out my own dark places during these past 10 months. {We all have our strongholds, those places in our hearts where we refuse to let Him in.} And can I tell you something? It's been worth every hard and miserable and painful moment to know that this precious child is now in a better place. And the same thing is true for me. I am in a better place now having S in my life than I ever was before. This is truth! No matter how many lies are swirling around in my head right now, I will continue clinging to The One Who is Transforming both of us!

The Enemy likes to say that S has ruined our family, that it was a mistake to adopt her, that she's too much work, and that our life will never look "normal" again. But everyday, I have to choose to believe the truth! The truth is that Sophi is a blessing and that her new little sister, Faith Ana, who's still waiting halfway around the world, will be a blessing to our family too. And, yes, having kids is hard work! It makes no difference if they are healthy, biological children or if they are internationally adopted children who suffer from institutional behaviors with severe developmental delays. Both are hard and both are blessings, but every single one of them are gifts from the Lord! And I will continue to say what I've said before - that hard is good, a mercy in disguise that can draw us closer to our Father! I can honestly say that S has been the hardest good thing {and the best hard thing} that has ever come into my life. And if it's always hard, that's OK. {Eternity is coming!} And if she never develops into a "normal" little girl, it's OK too. {One day, she will be perfectly healed!} We all have our issues, our quirky behaviors, and our developmental delays {especially when I consider what an incredibly slow learner I am in spiritual matters}. So, it really doesn't make her that different from the rest of us! No matter how she is labeled, she is perfect in His eyes, and He's faithfully filling us up with His love so that we can pour out on her the affection and attention that she desperately needs. 

I have no doubt that the Enemy is on a mission to convince me that S has messed up our family. He wants me to agree to this lie and blame her for all of the hard and ugly days that we've experienced these past 10 months. But it's not the truth. Yes, we've had many 
not-fun-moments, but the truth is that she is a treasure and a gift from a gracious and good Father to me and to our family. 

This brown-eyed little girl is a blessing despite her many institutional behaviors and numerous sensory processing issues. And, yes, she struggles to appropriately interact with her environment and she still fiercely resists learning activities. {A simple activity like coloring usually turns into a crying rage.} She often lacks the ability to respond with proper emotions to the people around her. {When one of her brothers is being disciplined, she often laughs hysterically. Or as you can see in the sequence of pictures of her in "time-out", she often goes from hysterical laughing to uncontrollable sobbing to angry raging .} She continually gets lost in repetitive behaviors, and she is still only capable of saying a very limited number of words and sounds. She is a severely developmentally delayed little girl. A seven year old that in many ways is like a one year old. But a blessing nonetheless...

Because she makes me look to Him. Because she makes me feel completely helpless. Because during the 10 short {very long} months that she's been home, my own list of "issues" has been uncovered. And you know what? My list is about five times as long as hers. Impatience. Control. Pride. Self-sufficiency. Anger. Perfectionism. Fear. Just to name a few...

In fact, instead of messing up my life, the Lord has used her life to reveal the mess in my own. The hard things with her have uncovered the hard places of my own heart. And for these reasons and many more, I am grateful for the Lord's good and sovereign plan in making this little one part of our family!

Over the summer, my boys and I have been reading The Chronicles of Narnia. When I read these words for the first time, I knew that it painted such a clear picture of S's adoption and the journey these past 10 months have been for me. It's a little lengthy, but I hope you'll hang with me and read these words by C.S. Lewis from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Maybe like the boy-turned-dragon in the story, you can identify with me and you're pretty nearly desperate now. Thankfully, our desperation is just what HE is after...

Well, anyway, I looked up and saw the very last thing I expected: a huge lion coming slowly towards me...It came closer to me and looked straight into my eyes. And I shut my eyes tight. But that wasn't any good because it told me to follow it.

And I knew I'd have to do what it told me, so I got up and followed it. And it led me a long way into the mountains...In the middle of it there was a well...

The water was as clear as anything and I thought if I could get in there and bathe it would ease the pain in my leg. But the lion told me I must undress first...

I was just going to say that I couldn't undress because I haven't any clothes on when I suddenly thought that dragons are snaky sort of things and snakes can cast their skins...So I started scratching myself and my scales began coming off all over the place. And then I scratched a little deeper and, instead of just scales coming off here and there, my whole skin started peeling off beautifully...I could see it lying there beside me, looking rather nasty. It was a most lovely feeling. So I started to go down into the well for my bath.

But just as I was going to put my foot into the water I saw that it was all rough and wrinkled and scaly just as it had been before. Oh, that's all right, said I, it only means I had another smaller suit on underneath the first one, and I'll have to get out of it too. So I scratched and tore again and this under skin peeled off beautifully and out I stepped and left it lying beside the other one and went down to the well for my bath.

Well, exactly the same thing happened again. And I thought to myself, oh dear, how ever many skins have I got to take off? For I was longing to bathe my leg. So I scratched away for the third time and got off a third skin, just like the two others, and stepped out of it. But as soon as I looked at myself in the water, I knew it had been no good.

Then the lion said - but I don't know if it spoke - You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of His claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let Him do it.

The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know - if you've ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away...

Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off - just as I thought I'd done myself the other three times, only they hadn't hurt - and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me - I didn't like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I'd no skin on - and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I'd turned into a boy again...

Come, let us return to the Lord.
For He has torn us, but He will heal us;
He has wounded us, but He will bandage us...
So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord..
Hosea 6:1-3

His healing is coming! Transformation is happening! But no matter how hard I try, I can't make it happen on my own. And, so, we learn to wait with our eyes only on Him.  S is learning to wait with quiet hands, and I am learning to wait with a quiet heart! And even when it hurts, we trust His strong hands and His loving heart, and we press on!


1 comment:

  1. Melanie, that passage was absolutely perfect! And, as so often is the case with your posts, I feel I could have written that post myself (though not nearly so well!). Niko's struggles and behaviors are minimal compared to Sophi's, but what I have seen in my own heart that I didn't know was there... oh my! I'm also very aware of similarities between Sophi and our newest daughter-to-be, Delia. She turns 7 next month, and seems to be a pretty close match for Sophi development and behavior-wise. I would love to know, if you ever have a chance to share about it, what you are doing with Sophi school and therapy-wise. Does she receive any outside help for anything or are you still just focusing on home life and attachment for now? That was definitely Niko's greatest need in his first year home! It looks as though Niko may be receiving speech therapy through our local school district in the Fall, but it has been a hassle and a half to bring that about, and we are considering going the private therapy route for Delia. Decisions, decisions! Anyway, thank you for your beautiful thoughts. It is a joy to watch you process all that the Lord is accomplishing in your life, and in Sophi's. He is good, isn't He?