Today marks three months since Anah has joined our family. I am still waiting for it to get easier but it doesn't seem to go that way. At least not yet. I am thankful for a little breather from our school routine for the next few weeks. To be honest, it has been hard for me to process things out loud, even with my husband. I don't want to burden him with the sometimes conflicting emotions that I am experiencing. I don't want to scare my children so I have to hold it together with them too, though I must admit that there have been a few times where I failed. As a pastor's wife, I feel like I can't tell people what I really feel, because after all, aren't we doing such a great thing? I don't know if people would really understand the deep loneliness and darkness or if they even want to hear about it.
I know that this isn't what you may want to read on a blog on mothering. You want upbeat, happy news, that everything is going well. I try to blog on those days so that this space on the web isn't all doom and gloom. But those are usually little bright moments during a week that is usually hard. I have found that even cooking dinner has been a way of escape for me. I busy myself in the tasks of preparing our meals and feel like I can hide the sadness for a little while by keeping busy. Or sometimes I let the tears come where no one can see.
I struggle with this because I want to just move on from this. Even though I heard about this in our adoption parenting classes, I didn't really think it would happen to me, because after all, we are doing something good, right? Shouldn't that knowledge keep me going and protect me from these negative emotions? And even if it is not going to keep them from popping up, they probably won't last long will they?
But as some women can suffer from postpartum depression for months after the birth of a healthy child (which I did not experience), I feel like I am going through some of that post-adoption depression. I am realizing that underneath it is possibly the feeling of grief. I am learning that grief can come even when good things happen, like having a baby or adopting a child, because with the good there is loss of the past or a loss of a future dream.
As I was reflecting on this, I realized that Mary---and Joseph too---had to grieve as well. Both of them could have taken the easy way out. Mary could have said no when the angel came to visit her. Joseph could simply have carried out the divorce as he had originally planned. But neither of them did that. Instead they said yes to God, His direction and His choices for them, even though it wasn't what they originally envisioned for themselves.
When they said yes to Him, they said no to a million other things as well: respectability, safety, security, the esteem and fellowship of their fellow villagers. They were on the run from those who were after their baby, nomads in Egypt and then uprooting once again when the Lord called them. Their lives were not their own.
While we may not have the same circumstances as they did, I am realizing that when I said I would follow Jesus, it is for the whole nine yards. It is not picking and choosing what I want. Life with Jesus is not a buffet line where I get to pick the choices that appeal to me while leaving those that don't.
On my journey, I remember that point where I (as author Sally Clarkson calls it) "crossed the bridge." It was in 1989, after I had come back from my first overseas missions trip. I had spent 10 weeks in humid, sticky, mosquito-infested Macau teaching English. I went there as a 21-year old pre-med student, but came back wondering if that was what God really wanted me to do with my life. I remember doing a lot of soul-searching and questioning this plan of mine.
Finally, I sensed the Lord asking me if I was going to trust Him or trust me, for that is what it really boiled down to. It wasn't a question about which was the most lucrative career choice. It wasn't about where I would find the most satisfaction. It wasn't even about where I would best utilize my gifts. It was about whether I would trust Him or not. And like Mary, I had to make a choice. And the rest is history.
Since then, my choice has taken me to Bible college, marrying a man that didn't fit my picture of Mr. Right, uprooting our young family from a rent-free house to the wild freeways of southern California, raising support and depending on Him month by month as we served in campus ministry with AACF, homeschooling, and now adoption. It is not what I would ever have imagined for myself.
For me, crossing the bridge has meant saying goodbye to controlling my own life, safety, and fitting in. I wish I could say that I was uber-mature and could handle all these losses with grace and dignity. But that isn't always so. I often wonder why God would call me on this lonely path and would rage why I couldn't "just fit in."
While we like neat, tidy, 30-minute solutions to life's problems, I have been around long enough to know that usually isn't the way things work. Sometimes things take a long time to resolve and healing rarely happens overnight. I know I could try to gloss over it and paste on a happy smile, sweeping my feelings under the rug but from past experience I know that doesn't usually bode well for the future.
Last weekend, we had planned to take our kids out to take a walk after dinner to look at the Christmas lights. Our youngest asked at breakfast, "Why can't we go now?" We explained that in order for us to see the lights best, it needed to be dark outside. Sometimes I wonder if that isn't also true of our souls: that the glory of God shines brightest when it is darkest.
Sometimes I wish that we got a peek into the mind and thought processes of Mary. It's not that I want to add anything to Scripture. I just wish I could know what she was thinking. It would give perspective to her story and keep me from putting her on a pedestal and thinking that I'd never be like her.
I think that is why I am sharing my story now. And it may be like this for a while longer. But I am trusting that when that day comes, you can then rejoice with me at the goodness of God that shines through when life seems the darkest---and that you too may have the courage to persevere with Him as well.