2012. It's a new year. With a new year comes new resolutions, changes, vows, etc. As I reflect on this new year for myself I have to admit it doesn't really seem to be a big deal this time around. I chalk that up to the fact I had a wonderful 2011 and the "changes" that seem to become the focus at the start of a new year are typically because something wasn't good (or at least as good as one hoped for). People look to this fresh start to make themselves or their life better. Well, where does that leave a person when they had a great year? Not that I don't think I have improvements to make, but I truly am excited about life right now and just want to continue in the great direction I'm already going. It's actually refreshing to have a new year begin this way!
Don't get me wrong, however, there are things I want to see happen in 2012 that didn't happened in 2011 so I started a list (like most people do either mentally or literally) and this is what it looked like:
- Reading four different books I have had on my end table for far too long
- Some sort of exercise again since my water aerobics classes have been cancelled and I'm still in mourning
- Reading more Scripture and getting back to a more regular devoted quiet time before the Lord instead of mainly relying on my daily awareness of His Presence to fill me
- Be more diligent in my daily routine/tasks so I don't feel like I've wasted the day away
- Live in or discover even more freedom in the areas of my life I know I still have work to do
- Continue exploring what God's true calling on my life looks like and how to live my life in mission (shout out to my WWWC sisters!)
- To bring Nora home
"To bring Nora home."
Yes, there is action I have already taken and will continue to take here and there to make this happen, but for now, I literally can't do a thing to MAKE that happen. I can make reading books happen by picking them up and reading them. I can make exercising happen by getting my butt off the couch. I can make all the other things on that list happen with effort, but I can't make Nora come home.
This left me with a lot of questions swimming in my mind and has gotten me to a place where God and I had to have a little heart-to-heart about where I am in all of this at the start of the new year. Will you come with me to that conversation for a moment? I hope by showing you where I am, maybe, just maybe, God will speak to you too.
My thoughts go back and forth like a ping pong game these days about what to pray for in this adoption or, better yet, how to pray (the only action I feel I can do right now to help Nora come home). I want so badly for Nora to be home as fast as possible--like tomorrow really--but I also know the reality of the adoption process in Haiti screams that's most likely not going to happen. So, in my prayers, I want my God to know my heart of hearts and I want to believe that if I tell Him those desires, they will be done (based on Ps. 37:4), but then I risk something huge in my heart by doing that. Do you know what that risk is? It's disappointment. Yep, that's definitely it. I haven't yet figured out how to hope for the miraculous God to show His power and yet separate that hope from potential disappointment. I'm fearful that God is going to disappoint me if He doesn't answer my heart of hearts like I thought it should be answered...that I would pray for Nora to come home miraculously fast and it wouldn't happen. I'm so fearful of that place that it literally keeps me from praying for the most bold things I know the depths of my heart are aching to pray for. Do you relate? Maybe this will help you further connect--here is a snippet of the ping pong match in my head...
God and I have a relationship where I can typically pray my truest heart of hearts. So, here is what that is: to have Nora home as soon as tomorrow. That I could be loving on her here in our home. That our kids would grow up together this first year of her life. That she would be held and cared for tenderly by me and Micah. I also honestly desire for God to miraculously bring her home faster than anyone has ever seen in order to bring witness and praise to Him. We could boldly stand on that witness to say it was NOTHING of what we did but EVERYTHING that God did! It would draw others to the God we serve and build His Kingdom, which is really even MORE of my heart than just adopting Nora. It would bolster our faith and the faiths of anyone following our adoption process. How amazingly cool is that! That is truly my heart's desire...to bring attention and honor and respect to God because He rightfully deserves it and to get Nora into our family's arms NOW because she deserves it!
However, in my prayer life, I find myself S.T.R.U.G.G.L.I.N.G. to pray this way. I struggle to pray for the miraculous in this adoption. I end up trying to rationalize why I should not pray for the miraculous and bold by filling my head with thoughts like this: If our process goes faster than anyone else's then what will that say to the others who's adoptions are taking the normal length of time? Wouldn't it say that WE had God behind ours, but THEY didn't have Him behind theirs? Or maybe it would tell them they just didn't pray or believe hard enough like we did? Wow, that sounds harsh and is totally not true so I guess I shouldn't pray for that. Or, God must need this process to be 1-2 years for those who aren't fully on board with us adopting (yes, they are out there). He must need this extra amount of time to bring them to an understanding of why this is His plan so that Nora will be fully loved by them when she gets here. That's what we truly want--for Nora to be truly loved by everyone when she gets here, so I guess that's worth the wait no matter how hard that is, right? Or, there must be a reason God had us pick Haiti instead of some of the more quickly moving countries--this time of waiting must be in His plan because He has something to teach us in the wait. Whatever that is will be worth this wait...I guess.
I think I rationalize my lack of faith and miracle seeking prayer life because it's simply safer. It's pretty risky to pray for the miraculous--what if He doesn't deliver? What if people think I'm a fool for believing in a God who can do miracles if He doesn't do one for me? What if people think God is a fake because they too were hoping and praying with me and feel failed by God? What if I am so disappointed that He didn't come through for me that I live miserably through this 1-2 year wait instead of just "waiting patiently" like everyone says I should be? It's too much of a risk in my head. It's safer to not pray that way and to rationalize my thoughts to be more predictable and controlled and in line with what everyone else is thinking or believing--the status quo of faithland.
Here's the problem though...none of those rationalizations of my head are based on fact. They are not truth. Heck, they are not even positive. Actually, I could easily flip each of them around to be something completely different if I wanted to. For example, if our process went faster than anyone's before, then maybe that would give hope to more families wanting to adopt through Haiti but have shied away from it because of the long wait. Our belief and bold prayers for God to move miraculously quick could eventually lead to many more precious children being adopted from Haiti...wow! Or, what if having Nora physically in the arms of those who doubt our decision to adopt would be what truly melts that doubt away more than any sort of waiting time. Or, what if the message God wants us to learn in this process is to trust Him more and leave things in His hands instead of trusting the system and the "proper" time line of Haitian adoptions? Or, lastly, what if the reason God had us pick Haiti was simply...Nora Josephine. That His decision for us to go through Haiti had nothing to do with the amount of time we had to wait or the lessens we could learn in the wait, but that it was simply, beautifully, and solely about Nora being connected to the Thieszens for our time on earth. Wouldn't those more positive assumptions be better to dwell on? Wouldn't they inspire and encourage a miraculous God to do His work instead of limiting the actions of God by my negative thinking? So why is this such a hard spot to be in?
Well, as much as the first, negative rationalizations of my brain were not facts, these more positive flips on them are also, unfortunately, not facts. They are not truth either. I can not foresee the future and I can not foresee what God will do in our adoption...miraculously bring Nora home in record time or allow it to continue on at a normal snail's pace for 1-2 years. My MIND can not know the outcome of my prayers. My MIND is not what I should be praying out of because it does not always think of the Truth...it thinks of the positives or the negatives, but not always, or even typically, the Truth...and THAT is why I have been struggling with my prayer life. I've been praying with my head.
To find Truth, the only thing I can do is look to God's Word and forget my own thoughts (negative or positive). Only God's Truth brings understanding and freedom and life, but He doesn't necessarily bring that to our heads--our brain--our thinking. He brings that to our hearts, and THIS is the key! Believe me when I say there is a difference between our heads and our hearts. He speaks to me not in my thoughts because His ways are not my ways, His thoughts are not my thoughts--they are higher than anything I could come up with (Isaiah 55:8-9)! He speaks to my heart because that is what He is looking for--He wants hearts that are committed to Him, not brains (2 Chron. 16:9). When I grabbed my Bible, turned off my thought-life, and opened my heart, I was met by the God I love. I thoroughly enjoy how God speaks to and soothes my confused and questioning head by raising up a solid and peaceful heart to take its place.
His Words didn't really give me answers to the questions I still have in my head about Nora's adoption timeline, but it gave me the hope I needed to risk asking of God the impossible and miraculous desires of my heart. It gave me the courage to trust in Him to conquer the fears of disappointment that still hold some space in my head. Did you catch that? Those fears of disappointment I mentioned clear back at the very beginning of this post are not in my heart, friends, I found them in my head. God revealed something new to me today--that my heart is typically NOT what is disappointed when God doesn't allow things don't go the way I think or expect them to go. I still very much love God in my heart when that happens, but my thoughts are what come up disappointed because, in a prideful way, I was proven wrong by God and that hurts when you find out you don't know as much as you thought you did--even if it's by God, right?!? (More freedom from pride found today, my friends...what a blessing!) Anyway, beyond the references already mentioned in this post, here are a few more that my God shared with me today that brought me back to a place of my heart...and perhaps He is sharing them with you too...
- Romans 8:25-27, "But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God's people in accordance with the will of God."
- 1 Cor. 1:18-20 & 25, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written; 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.' Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength."
- Ps. 77:13-14, "Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; You display Your power among the peoples."
- Mark 11:22-23, "'Have faith in God,' Jesus answered. 'Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them."
- Pr. 16:9, "In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps."
- Mt. 17:20, "Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."
So, there you have it. The way I am starting out 2012 is to live not so much out of my head and so much more out of my heart...in this adoption process, as well as in all the areas of life I just don't understand. My mind does not understand the miraculous. It does not understand the mundane. It does not understand the ways of man. It does not understand the ways of God. There are many things my mind just doesn't understand. BUT. I do understand I have a heart that is ever beating for the Lord and that's more important than anything my mind would understand anyway. I will chose, this day, to ask boldly for the God who loves my heart and hears the deepest desires of that heart to work on our behalf to bring our beautiful Nora home in miraculous time. What will you ask of Him out of your heart and not out of your head as 2012 begins? I would love to hear your answer to that question if you would be so willing, bold, daring, and honest to post them in the comment section of this post. To God be the glory!