It is often so easy to look at other happy adoptions and think that loving your new child is a natural thing. We read the “finished” adoption stories of others and think that it is an easy journey. We get teary-eyed and sigh at how beautiful it is.
This is not one of those stories.
We often don’t hear the stories in the trenches, and maybe that’s a good thing. It is why I didn’t think it would be best to share those moments over the past few years. I am still in that journey today, but God is changing me into a different person. I hope that my story will encourage you to persevere through your own ugly, messy, but still glorious process of change.
For me, one of those places is learning how to accept and show genuine affection for Anah, with all her limitations, frustrations, and difficulties. In my pride, it is so easy for me to just focus on the inconvenience instead of learning to identify with her in compassion.
Yet, as I am reconnecting with God again, He doesn’t just show me what not to do but also what I can do. This doesn’t always mean feeling love, but it does mean learning how to incarnate His acceptance through going beyond the duty to expressing kindness.
My habit has been to keep my distance from Anah because I didn’t feel affection. But I am learning that there is a difference between real love and the emotion of it. Jesus didn’t feel great joy in going to the cross, but love kept Him moving towards it. In the past few months, God has been showing me that love is a choice to do what is best for the other, not based on what I feel, but on what would be the best for them.
And the best for Anah is for her to know that she is accepted, cherished, and valuable. No one has done that for her before. God has given me the opportunity to be that for Him in her life. Will I make that choice, dying to my natural feelings, in order to bless her with that?
And so I am learning to pray in these moments. I pray that His Spirit will move me to reach out to Anah in love precisely in the moments I would much rather not--a hug, a high-five, a snuggle.
Love is not a feeling. It is a choice to go the self-sacrificing way of Christ, to put someone else above ourselves. I will never be able to conjure up emotions of affection, but I trust that through small acts of faithful obedience, He will use these to change my heart.
Father, please teach me how to show love even if I don’t feel it, so that I may be an agent of blessing to Anah.