Monday, May 19, 2014

"Suffering" at 6 Months Home

6 months.  I can not believe it.  6 months IN an adoption paperwork process seems like an eternity.  Seriously.  I can not stress that enough.  E-tern-i-ty.  6 months POST paperwork process...well that has flown by like nothin' flat.  Some days it seems like we should still be at 1 week home and yet 6 months have passed.  Wow.  It's mind boggling.  Before I go on with the main gist of this post, let me give you the specs on Nora at this point as well as some perspective against her big sister...

Nora at 2 years old: 23 lbs. 5 oz. and 32 1/4 inches tall
Lily at 2 years old: 26 lbs. 7 oz. and 33 1/2 inches tall

Nora 6 months later: 28 lbs. and 35 3/4 inches tall (an almost 5 lb gain and 3 1/2 inch growth)
Lily 1 year later (3 yrs.): 32 lbs. and 37 inches tall (a little greater than 5 lb gain and a 3 1/2 inch growth)

So...what Lily did in one year, Nora has just done in 6 months home.  Yep, that's nuts...need a visual?  Here is Nora the day after we got her home...

And here she is 6 months later on the day we had her dedicated at our church...notice how much closer she is to that door knob!

Okay now that you have all gotten your "cute fix"...onward with the post...

I have actually put off writing this post because it's not going to be an easy one to write.  I've also put it off because finding a chunk of quiet time to write is harder to come by these days.  May is a very busy month in general and this year has been no exception.  So, you put that crazy calendar schedule together with a blog post I'm more hesitant to write and have an overdue 6-months-home update.

If you remember my post from last month I was sharing how we had experienced some backwards movement with Nora.  You can read about that here if you missed it.  It was a tough month of trying to figure her out and feeling as if I had gotten no where.  However, I'll be the first to admit that this past month seemed even harder yet.  This time, however, it was not so much Nora having issues as it was myself.  In case you didn't know it yet, friends, adoption is hard stuff not just for the kiddo but for the parent too.  Parenting in general is also hard stuff.  Having a 2 year old is, as you may have guessed, also hard stuff.  As much as I don't want to admit it, the combo of the 3 have taken a toll on me and I'm a bit spent.  Physically, emotionally, and spiritually "spent".

I won't go into the details of the physical part because, quite frankly, I just need to get back out there walking the neighborhoods and eating healthier like I was during our process, but haven't prioritized it like I should be.  Not much else to say about that.  It is what it is.

Emotionally, I have been all. over. the. board.  I have seen myself get downright weepy over a random video of a whale being saved by a man in a speedo (oh my), gone shopping for retail therapy a *few* times, been more angry and frustrated at my youngest than I ever thought possible, felt compassion I can not fully yet understand for people I don't even know, fallen more and more in love with my husband, and found myself journaling out my prayers inside our van parked in an empty lot for almost 3 hours just to try to comprehend what on earth is going on with me.

At times I have felt out of control, guilty, confident, and determined all at the same time--how is that even possible???  If you don't know me well, I like to be in control or at least have a game plan, and this past month I have felt the complete opposite emotionally.  I have tried some homeopathy supplements to take my edge off, taken many deep breaths with my husband's gentle guidance, cried myself to sleep on more than one occasion, and prayed and prayed and prayed, but nothing seems to have "worked" to get me out of this place.  It is a hard place to admit I am in because it does not build up a sense of strength and dignity about myself.  It is raw and vulnerable and ugly, but it is where I am at.  It has humbled me to a core.  I do not want to stay here long by any means because it is exhausting, but I am also not one who believes that being in an uncomfortable place is always bad either.  God has a purpose for everything and will bring good out of it all.  It is a place I know I will grow from, learn from, and come out of much more reliable on the only One who is 100% reliable.  I know God has something rich for me even here in my place of emotional instability.

That is what leads me to the spiritual part of my last month.  I believe whole-heartedly that God is right in the midst of my spiritual "spentness".  When we come to Him empty, He does have what will fill us.  The hard part is we have to come empty and the emptying process is not always never all that fun.  I loathe empty.  It feels...well...empty...and what person wants to feel that?

The first weekend of May I spent Friday night and all day Saturday at my church's showing of the "IF Gathering".  This was an incredibly powerful, Spirit-filled event for women that took place in Texas back in February.  It was simulcast to various places across the nation and that was then recorded and made available for purchase here.  Our church purchased it and showed it to a room full of thirsty women.  The results were like one of the ladies said on the weekend, "It's like I came for a drink of water and someone just put a fire hose in my mouth."  Yes, yes, yes, I will attest to the truth of that statement.  I left the event with a wealth of empowerment to try to do a better job at being "Jesus" to those around me.  To stop just talking about my faith and start living as if it were real (because, duh, it is).  To be fully where I am and yet fully excited about what God has for me just beyond what I can see.  I could honestly write a whole blog post on that event itself, but I'll hone in on one thing that has to do with my current situation as a "spent" adoptive mom in the thick of it.

Suffering. Yep, suffering.  One of the main points of Ann Voskamp's talk was on how if we want to build a genuine, PASSIONATE love for another person, we have to be ready to willingly, or better yet willfully, suffer for that person.  Yep, I'll say it again...suffer for that person.  She reflected on how the word "passion" originated with the sacrifice of Christ on the cross out of His love for God's people.  Passion, and therefore passionate love, was born out of suffering.  This reflection moved in my heart in an empowering and yet humbling way.  You see, I have been struggling to passionately love Nora.  Heck, I've been struggling to simply love Nora well let alone passionately.  Not that I don't love her at all, but it is a love that has much room for growth.

My conversation with God in that "aha moment" while listening to Ann speak became automatically defensive.  "This doesn't seem fair, God!  I WANT passionate love for Nora.  You know I NEED to have more passionate love for her.  But if suffering is the answer, why isn't it already present?  Certainly I HAVE suffered for this girl.  Are you kidding me?!?!  2 years and 4 months it took to get her here.  Many nights of tears ugly cries and sleeplessness.  Fundraising and explaining for the umpthteen time why it takes so long to get through this paperwork nightmare.  Praying for patience, action, understanding, movement, a miracle, answers.  Watching others hold her and hug her and love on her while I sat empty handed.  Hearing others tell me of her first crawl or her first time using a spoon on her own while I put another season of clothes into the garage sale pile unworn.  Seeing pictures of empty eyes and half smiles while I was left longing to be in the photos with her.  All those days of just wondering who she really is, what she really likes...oh, God, You know I have suffered alright.  I have suffered the long and hard process of this adoption.  So bring on the passionate love, God!  Where is it?  Why do I not feel it?  Why am I not seeing the "loving results" of my suffering?"

Yes, you see, I was defensive alright.  And perhaps one could justify my line of thinking...I mean, I certainly did in that moment (heck yes I did), but then there is God who rightfully has the throne of what is truly Just.  Then...right in the thick of my selfishness, God's Spirit spoke into the core of my heart in such a gentle, loving way..."Yes, Angie, I know you suffered to get her here and that suffering DID cover the amount of passionate love I desired for you to have for her during that time, but that she is home...I wonder if she needs even more than what she did then.  Are you willing to suffer for her now even more than you did for those 2 years and 4 months?  Are you willing to continue the suffering in order to increase the passionate love she needs now?  Would you consider the notion that your suffering then was not enough to cover the love I want you to have for her over her lifetime and that even more is required?"

Woah.  Seriously?  Suffer more?  Really?  Friends, the Holy Spirit's way of talking to our heart of hearts is never complicated.  It is so gentle, so simple, so True.  It cuts through the clutter like a knife.  It's not always easy to do what He is directing us to do or even easy to hear what He is saying, but it is always simple to understand when we bring ourselves empty enough to hear it.  But right now, in month 6, I'll be honest...I'm still not quite empty enough.

I wish my answer to God's invitation to suffer more for Nora this past month was better than it was.  I wish I could tell you exactly what "suffering" even looked like and how I was playing that out.  I wish I could write that I took those words to heart and they instantly changed me into a person who was willfully suffering for her daughter (and even others) all the time. That through my suffering, my love for Nora had infinitely grown in depth of passion already.  Yet if I would write those words, it would unfortunately be a lie.  The truth is, I have not done this well yet.  I don't even know where to begin.  I have much to learn and much to grow in as far as suffering for Nora in the day-to-day life of our home.

Last time I checked, "suffering" isn't something that anyone--including Christ--ever WANTED to do.  Even in those last moments before He was taken captive, Jesus asked God for that cup of suffering to be taken from Him if it could be.  Even Jesus didn't WANT to suffer.  Perhaps the place I find myself in currently is hard because I am so "spent" physically and emotionally.  For whatever reason I feel as if I need to be in tip top shape in all areas before heading into a place of suffering.  Like a reprieve from the suffering of the adoption process would be nice before beginning a whole other level of suffering again, but if I reflect back on Christ's example, He, too, was at a point of weeping drops of blood over the agony of His upcoming events just before enduring the most intense suffering one can imagine.  Christ had no reprieve.   Even in the exhaustion of this place I find myself in, Jesus has pure empathy for me because He has lived it to a degree way beyond my own.

So, I think I'm finding myself in a very, very similar place to Jesus in Gethsemane.  A place where I am reluctant, scared, tired, leaning and praying against a Rock and asking God to take the cup from me instead of making me suffer for the name of love.  However, just as Jesus prayed that ultimately not His will, but God's will be done, I know in my heart of hearts, underneath all the resistance, I find myself in the same place.  I really, really want to do God's will despite the cost of it all.  He means everything to me and I will go to my grave doing all I can in return for the love, grace, and freedom He paid for me.  And...I really, really want to deepen my passionate love for Nora and others despite the suffering it will cause.

Truly, adoption is the story of Christ exemplified in ways that never cease to amaze me.  The beauty even in the hard place is that I am not the first to have walked this path and that the path is one leading to abundant life that I, and we all, were meant for.  His suffering brought about a love that can never be matched.  My suffering for Nora, whatever I find that to be and whenever I end up emptying myself enough to actually do it, will bring about the passionate love I know I am called by God to have for her as her Mama.

Will you join me in prayer for God to continue to reveal what the next steps are for me to empty myself fully before Him as well as what my suffering really looks like tangibly?  Will you also join me in prayer for the many other moms out there (adoptive moms or not) who all need direction, encouragement, and support as they choose to suffer for the love of their children as well?  I believe that the next generation can be forever changed and shaped by passionate, willfully suffering moms filled with a love for their children none could have imagined if we choose to come empty enough for Christ to fill us in this way.  That is my personal hope and prayer for my Lily, Tobias, Quinn, and Nora.

1 comment:

  1. Well said, Angie. It's a difficult place to be in. At 1 year, 9 months home, I finally feel as though I have mostly healed from the "trauma" of our difficult adjustment. I finally feel like I am the real me, and back in my own skin. This does affect every aspect of our lives (I found that taking adrenal supports helped). You will get there too - but in the mean time, I love how God is teaching you, redeeming the pain of what you are going through and loving you through it all. In time you will fully love this little girl with all your heart as well - past the suffering and to a beautiful new relationship between both of you.