Monday, August 12, 2013

The Irreparable Past and the Irresistible Future

Happy Gotcha Day, S! It's hard to believe that exactly one year ago today, your Daddy and I carried you out the doors of the only place you had ever known. I remember it like it was yesterday...

It has been quite a journey, and I have a hard time even attempting to sum up my thoughts and feelings when I think back on that day and every day since then. I would unashamedly and without hesitation tell anyone who asks that this year has without a doubt been the hardest, most challenging, and most stretching year of my life. But I also have to immediately and emphatically follow that up with something just as true and even more important. I have seen the Lord's faithfulness in ways that I never could have imagined. I have witnessed His mercies and can testify that they are indeed new every single morning. I have experienced His strength when I was in a place of utter weakness (and this has happened often). And I have been lavishly loved and comforted by my sovereign and loving Father who knew just what He was doing when He chose S to be my little girl. What a year it has been!

I have mixed feelings when I look on the calendar and see this date. As I look back and remember all that we have been through, I cannot help but think about all the mistakes I've made. All the times my patience was exhausted and my temper flared. The missed hugs and the missed opportunities. The times my voice was too loud or too critical. The times my touch should have been more gentle. The times I pushed too hard. The times I should have simply  gotten on the floor and played instead of trying to teach a new word or master a new task. How in the world is it possible to experience anger and irritation towards a little girl who has endured so much, but yet I have, more than once. On numerous occasions, I have seen what is inside of my own heart, and I have been brought me to my knees in complete desperation. I cannot tell you how often I have prayed for the Lord to soften my heart and to fill me with love for this little girl because my own heart has felt so empty and dry, and I've cried out with King David the words of Psalm 51 more times than I can count. 

Create in me a clean heart, O God.

And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Psalm 51:10

There is much about this past year that, in hindsight, I wish I could do differently. In so many ways, this precious little girl is a puzzle, and many of our attempts at knowing how to parent her have felt like trial and error, 2 steps forward, 5 giant ones back. Many days have been hard and frustrating. Trying to understand her heart and her mind and knowing how to meet her needs has felt like an impossible task. Many, many prayers have been offered up and daily we have prayed for the wisdom we need to help her learn and thrive. Yet, it has very much been a hard and challenging road. My mom often reminds me something that the famous child psychologist, James Dobson, said in one of his books. I can't remember the exact words, but it's that motherhood is the biggest guilt trip you will ever experience. And if you're a mom, you know how true this is! Being a mother to a special needs, adopted child has only multiplied the magnitude of this guilt trip. And the Enemy loves it. He loves it when I focus on my mistakes and the ways I blow it. He often reminds me how imperfectly I love S, and he continually whispers lies in my ears that S would have been better off with another Momma. It is a daily challenge for me to not buy into his lies. The truth is that it's hard to be her Momma, and it's easy to feel like a failure when it comes to this most sacred assignment the Lord has given me! I know that the Enemy would love nothing more than for me to focus today on this one year anniversary on all the things that I could have done and should have done differently and to beat myself up for all of the things that I did completely wrong. He wants to blind me to the incredible progress that she has made, and he wants me to forget what an unbelievable blessing that she is to our family! Everyday is a crossroads for me when it comes to what I am going to believe about her and what I am going to believe about myself. Today is no exception.

Grace for the past and hope for the future. It's where I find myself today, and it's a very, very good place to be. For almost an entire year, our big family wall calendar stayed stuck on August 2012. We hunkered down, we cocooned just as all the the adoption education books and resources encouraged, we prioritized helping S attach to us as her family, and we extremely limited our schedule and simplified our lifestyle. Our calendars have been virtually empty for the past year. We've had lots of slow and simple days, hanging out at home and plenty of time playing in our backyard. We've learned a lot as a family, and the idea of teamwork in our marriage has been taken to an entirely new dimension. And all this has been good.

But today has felt like an ending to that season of our life. Today feels like we are moving on and shifting gears. We are coming up with new goals and strategies and then making the necessary adjustments. And this feels good, too! It feels hopeful. It feels right. I knew that it was finally time to update our big wall calendars, and can I tell you something? When I finally did get around to writing down all that is coming in the weeks ahead, I realized how busy we are! And this makes me smile! Not because I like being busy {I really am an introvert and a home-body at heart}, but it makes me glad because I see that we truly are starting to see some normalcy return after a year that has been far from normal! In this month alone, we've had numerous doctors' appointments, dentist appointments, school meetings, a big boys-only deep-sea fishing trip with Dad, and quite a few other firsts (more on that to come in the big update post I've been promising). I met a friend for lunch, and I even have a hair appointment scheduled in the next few weeks! I know these things might seem like trivial, insignificant things to most of you, but to me, they feel huge. Dare I say, it almost is beginning to feel a little like normal {whatever normal is when you have a houseful of little people, and you are working like crazy to bring another one home soon}!

In the adoption community, people always talk about that magical day when you can't remember life before your child joined your family. That it feels like they have always been with you. That it finally feels right and normal. That there is no distinction between your adopted child and your biological children. And while I'm sure many people experience this level of reality, for me (you have my honesty and transparency here as always), I can't say that I necessarily feel that way today. I definitely remember what it was like before S came home last summer. We went to the beach a lot more. Will and I had date nights. We made it to church most weeks and were actually on-time and sometimes even early. We went out to eat. We were in Bible studies and had play dates. Our lives certainly looked different, and I remember it well. Please know that I'm not saying it was better, but it certainly was different. {I have to remind myself that we also had a newborn when we brought S home, and this definitely changed the dynamics of our family as well!} We are beginning to shift back into a slightly "more normal" routine, but the reality with 6 kids (and counting), including one that has very unique needs, is simply that our lives will never look like they did last summer before S joined our family. And as much as I want my relationship with Sophi to be like that of my other children, the truth is that it's not. And I'm finally coming to a place of realizing that it's ok! S is different. She has unique needs and challenges. Her past experiences, her cognitive level, and her wounded, but very precious little heart require me to parent her in a different way. I've said this a bunch of times here over this past year - that hard can be good - I'm learning the same is true about different. Just because something is different doesn't mean it's bad. Different is good, but it's only when we view it through the right kind of lens that we can truly appreciate and value it. When I see things through His eyes, it literally takes my breath away. The beauty in this little girl. The beauty that this year has been for our family. The beautiful picture of redemption that adoption truly is!

Hanging in S's room is a hand-painted canvas covered in butterflies and flowers and these beautiful words from Psalm 139. I chose them for S, and I read them every morning when I go into her room to wake her up. It's such a perfect reminder for me, helping me keep my eyes on Him when I am looking at her!

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
 You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
 Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
 You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me...

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.

Psalm 139:1-5, 13-14

After a year home, S has made wonderful progress. It has been extremely slow, and the process has often been marked with difficulty, but we know that she is capable of learning.  I will share more about one of her big doctor's appointments in another post, but over the past few weeks, we've learned a little more about our little girl and have a better picture of what to expect in the future. Obviously, we have the faith to believe that the Lord can work a miracle and bring total and complete healing into S's life, but we also are able to accept and love her for who she is just now! And that is what we are doing today! Loving her just the way she is!

S, you are different, but let me tell you, sweet girl. Different is good! We love you bunches, and we are so thankful the Lord chose you to be part of our family! I can't wait to see what this year brings!

One last thought...

I was thumbing through my copy of Oswald Chamber's My Utmost this morning, and I was drawn to the devotional from December 31st. It really was perfectly fitting for this Gotcha Day anniversary. The end of the first year and the beginning of a new year. Listen to his words and be encouraged. 

At the end of the year we turn with eagerness to all that God has for the future, and yet anxiety is apt to arise from remembering the yesterdays. Our present enjoyment of God's grace is apt to be checked by the memory of yesterday's sins and blunders. But God is the God of our yesterdays, and He allows the memory of them in order to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual culture for the future. God reminds us of the past lest we get into a shallow security in the present. "For the Lord will go before you." This is a gracious revelation, that God will garrison where we have failed to...

As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, unremembering delight, nor with the flight of impulsive thoughtlessness, but with the patient power of knowing that the God of Israel will go before us. Our yesterdays present irreparable things to us; it is true that we have lost opportunities which will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ.

Leave the Irreparable Past in His hands, and step out into the Irresistible Future with Him.

Oswald Chambers

I love those last words, and I hope they encourage you as much as they do for me! I also wanted to take this chance to say thank you for being part of this journey with us this past year. We appreciate your prayers and encouragement and support more than we could possibly express. I've promised a big update post soon, and, trust me, there's lots to share! I can't wait to step out into the Irresistible Future with Him, and I hope you'll keep following along. We certainly need your prayers now more than ever before!


1 comment:

  1. Wow...I'm so astonished by the transformation. She seemed like a toddler in the first pictures and such a big girl in the recent pictures. She's grown so much in only one year. The Lord calls us to do more than we can do and then when it gets done, He gets the glory. Beautiful!