“Confess your sins to each other and pray
so that you can live together whole and healed.
(James 5:16 MSG)
Confession is good for the soul. True confession is better. But the authentic confession of adoptive-mom-sisters…well, it’s simply the best!
Surrendering our masks over the past weeks, we had created a safe place in which to unpack the real-deal stuff of our journeys. And stress is some real-deal stuff; it stole the show during a recent support group meeting.
“So, why don’t we stop for a minute and share some of our coping strategies,” the leader quipped after we guffawed at the stress chart…placing ourselves somewhere in an alternative universe.
These fantastic women - faithful saints parenting kids that test our grit, are seasoned, wise and funny; this is not their first rodeo! Waves of belly laughter punctuated our discussion. Validation gave way to relief, and understanding of our “shared code” enhanced the following confessions of the rodeo queens.
“Well, I enjoy a couple of glasses of wine,” one brave soul ventured. “It just helps me relax.” We nodded sympathetically and silently translated the code…I’ve had a day from hell. One child got suspended from school. Another slammed his fist through the bathroom wall in a fit of rage and spit on me. My husband’s out of town and I want to run away.
“I eat,” disclosed one mom; we filled in the blanks from our own experience… I forgot where I hid the chocolate, so I hung on the refrigerator door frantically searching for the perfect comfort food for this unnamed emotion I’m trying to suppress. Where is that comfort food?!
“I’m too harsh,” confessed another. Got it. We’ve crossed that line too.
“I watch too much TV and get very controlling. “My world is falling apart and there’s nothing left that I can control. Maybe if I numb-out and live in someone else’s make believe world it will turn out happily-ever-after.
“I swear,” shared another. “I grew up in a non-Christian home. And it still flies out of my mouth way too easily under stress. But sometimes those are the only words that touch the core of what I’m feeling.” Laughter erupted as others shared their shock and awe stories that disarmed their teenaged kids who thought they had invented these one-syllable words.
And we all acknowledged various themes of detaching, withdrawing, and checking out. No translation required.
But here’s the point. We left feeling better. Confession lightened our load. Laughter heals! We know better…we even discussed positive coping strategies. But it just felt good to be understood and accepted. We disarmed shame, validated feelings, and shared the humanity of our adoptive-mom stress.
And we all returned home to our rodeos, better prepared for the next event; someone had our back.
“But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.”
I understand my adopted daughter's compromised beginnings and my heart cries out with ragged begging…please God. Just say the word and my children will be healed!” It’s the anguished cry of every mother’s heart: for her child, her family and herself. “Lord, I can’t fix this. But You can. Pleeeeeease!”
But what if He doesn’t? What if there’s no healing of the wounds their innocent souls and bodies suffered? What if their healing is long and painful? What if they choose self-medication instead? What if I don’t have what it takes to go the distance on this one? What if…?
I’ve agonized to make sense of this gut-wrenching prayer. And honestly, while there is always hope, and smatterings of healings on the short run, more times than not we learn to live with our suffocating grief. Dress it up. Walk with a limp. Resign ourselves to its numbing-ness. Redefine our lives, and God. And carry on. Maybe that’s what faith is all about. But maybe it’s not.
Consider an amputee; someone who surrendered a limb. The pain and horror of it make me want to vomit. But I know it’s final. Kaput. The end. Their spirit may heal, blossom and thrive. But they won’t grow another limb. Not in this life.
Is that true for some of our kids? Those who had a piece of their soul amputated by abuse, alcohol and drug induced brain damage, institutionalization, or birth and foster moms who disappeared, ripping non-renewable pieces of their heart from their souls?
God created an orderly world governed by physical laws. The farther we stray from His plan the more drastic the results. Some of us are called to parent drastic results; others got stuck with it. God help us! And He will. But He may provide strength, courage, grace, acceptance, defiance and dogged determination to help our child. It may not be the healing for which we pray, beg, bargain and manipulate. What then?
I’m out of pat answers. But I know His grace is sufficient. I know His word is true. I know He loves and defends the orphans. I know His peace surpasses understanding. I know their names are engraved on the palm of His hand. I know His ways are different than my ways. I know this is not my home, or theirs. I know He is pleased with mercy and not sacrifice. I know miracles happen. I know Jesus. I know He loves the orphan’s mother, too.
Can we be satisfied knowing we have done what He asked us to do? That we are not perfect? That our worth is not determined by the outcome of our children? That we love our children but can’t fix them; we can’t replace their amputated parts. But by God’s grace, are we willing to love what’s left, until He says the word?
I think that’s one question with which we need to wrestle…for our children and ourselves.
“And so we went to Rome”
As they neared Rome on the final leg of their traumatic sea voyage, Luke, the author of Acts, and Paul's travelling companion, summarized their adventures: "And so we went to Rome." What an understatement given the relentless drama that unfolded onboard! Paul had sailed from Caesarea to Rome with purpose, plans and provisions. He was on a mission. But storms, delays, shipwreck, opportunity, and the kindness of strangers, intervened (Acts 27:1-28:16). I guess it's a matter of perspective.
The Bible overflows with human drama. I love it because it mirrors real life: people with strengths, weaknesses and plans, people who love, people who suffer and doubt, people who betray and those who are betrayed, people who look for God and others found by God, people who forgive and those who don’t. And a loving God, writing His story, who allows storms, conflicts and shipwrecks for a greater good. Some of them happened in my home!
And so we adopted.
With purpose and provisions for the journey we planned.
But when storms, conflict and shipwreck threatened to consume us
we discovered opportunity and grace.
His plan, in retrospect,
displayed within the challenges along the way.
God’s plan emerged through Paul’s trials. God was glorified. People were healed. Paul’s life was spared. And God provided, in miraculous ways, long after their provisions perished.
Amidst our real, everyday challenges lies another simple truth: Our adoption stories are a matter of perspective.
And so we adopted.