The good news: Anah feels quite at home now. We know her much better, and she knows us. We know what she can handle, whether she understands our instructions, and have a good idea of her limits.
The bad news: There are more disciplinary issues, as we need to set boundaries and train behavior. She and Jonathan are starting to butt heads more, which also means referreeing their "moments." And as she feels more at home, we are seeing that ubiquotous sin nature rear up in stubbornness and disobedience.
What has been challenging for me in particular is realizing that she has probably gotten away with a lot of misbehavior in the name of cuteness. For me then to come in and have to re-train her, to let her know what used to "work" in the past isn't going to work now, has made me feel like the bad guy or the mean mommy.
But perhaps that is what she needs to move to the next stage of maturity. She acts very much like a toddler, and people may not expect much of her. But I have seen that she is fully capable of more. It's going to take a long time, but I have seen her do things that lets me know that the potential is there. It just needs to be trained, something that she has not had in her 8 years of life.
There are days (actually, most of them), when I feel like giving up. The road seems so long. I feel so alone. I am physically exhausted and don't know if I have any more left to give. And yet the nature of training requires that I be there, day-in, day-out, doing it over and over and over, and then over again.
This is where God is helping me to see that the best gift I can give her is not the best in educational toys, special classes, or opportunities. It is the gift of my commitment, my presence, my time, my refusal to give up. It is giving her the stability, the routine, the structure that she needs to thrive.
There are days when I don't want to give her these things. My selfish heart rebels at the thought of having to give out more. "Haven't I done enough already?" I argue with God. I wish I could say that I have been submissive to the Lord's plans for our family, but I can't. Most of the time, I am still grieving at the many losses or trying to hold on to the things that help me feel like a "normal" person.
Two things have surfaced in my quiet times this week. First, I have been reading about Moses in Exodus. We all know what a great personage he is in Scripture. But what God had to remind me of was that his greatness was preceded by forty years of being nobody. I don't like being a nobody. And yet, maybe this is what God needs me to go through.
Second, I have been memorizing Philippians 3 this month. The past couple of days I have been focusing on Paul's litany of gains: his heritage, his faith, his zeal. And yet in verses 7-9a he says "But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him..." (ESV).
Together, these two thoughts have really been challenging to me in this season of anonymity. I have missed having time to teach Sunday school classes, mingle with others, and enjoy meaningful conversation. Mainly it's because I am all talked out by the end of the week and I really don't have the energy to talk anymore. But sometimes it's also because I know that I have nothing really positive to say at this time. I don't see the bright endings. I don't have happy days. And I'm not really sure if people want to hear that.
As with most everyone, I would much rather bypass this stage of the journey. I want to get back to real life. I have not gotten to the point as Paul has to see that the things in my old life are rubbish. And yet, God is showing me that in order for me to move on, I'm going to have to let it go instead of fighting to hold on.
Thankfully, God does not push me or force me or try to reason with me to change my emotions. He just states the truth, quietly and simply. The ball is now in my court. Which I shall choose I cannot tell at this stage. I know He's right, but it's not easy to have faith when I feel that life is turned topsy-turvy.
All I can do is keep going, even when I feel like my faith is running dry, when I feel hopeless and trapped, when joy has disappeared, when there is not an ounce of love left in my heart. Perhaps just tackling each day as it comes is going to be my act of faith for now.
He'll take care of the rest.