"Every once in a while we gotta stop trying so hard to be loved and just BE LOVED."
- Glennon Melton
I was sitting on my friend Stefanie's couch a few days ago chatting.... (okay... that's a lie. I wasn't so much chatting as I was crying and stuffing my face with cheese crackers and chocolate) when these words came tumbling out...
"I feel like a mess. I have so much hurt and sadness and frustration built up inside me because of our adoption, and it seems like anytime someone asks me about it, it all comes spilling out. I feel like I should be wearing a warning sign! I'm just awful! I'm afraid people won't want to be around me anymore! I'm so afraid I'm going to make people think I'm a terrible person... or a bad Christian... or scare someone away from adopting because of how challenging our experience is. But I just can't fake it and pretend like I'm okay, because this is SO hard. I love it when people ask about our adoption - because it lets me know our daughter isn't forgotten. It makes it feel real to me. But I wish I could just smile and say, "It's hard, please keep us in your prayers." Instead - I tell them how I REALLY feel. And then I get emotional. And then I regret it. And then I feel like I have to end everything negative I said with something hopeful and appropriate for a Christian to say in a really peppy voice.. like... "But I know she'll be so worth it! So we are just going to keep praying and trusting God!" And then they agree and spout something equally positive and hopeful and I don't feel any better than I did before they asked."
I don't think I knew I felt all of that until I said it. I went on to confess how I'd rambled incessantly about our adoption at a Baby Shower, and regretted it - but how I'd felt so awkward because it just made me miss my daughter SO much and I didn't know how else to relate to all the moms there. [*sidenote - Friends please don't think this means I don't want to come to your baby shower or kids birthday or be around your precious adorable little ones. I love them and you! I really, truly enjoy our time together! But please DO be understanding if I am a socially awkward mess at said event. It's just a season... I promise it will pass!] I brought up several awkward conversations and rehashed them with my patient friend - wishing I could go back and change them. I went through the guilt and how much I was REALLY struggling with this season even though I'm "supposed to" feel hopeful and peaceful and be able to trust God.
And then she told me to stop it.
This dear, sweet, precious friend - who has been such a godsend in this season - told me to stop apologizing. She told me to stop being afraid I was going to scare someone away from adopting. She told me to stop worrying about what other people think, and she told me to just FEEL what I need to feel right now. She told me it was okay. She told me that the people who judged me didn't matter - and that this was a season to let myself be loved.
And then I cried some more.
It was the first time I realized what I really needed in this season. Validation.
You guys... validating someone's feelings goes such a long way.
I have felt every single emotion at some point during this adoption. Excitement. Anxiety. Hope. Fear. Joy. Anticipation. Anger. Frustration. Peace. Doubt. Sadness. Determination. Exhaustion.
Yes - we need your prayers to face this. We desperately need your prayers! And yes - sometimes I DO need a word of encouragement or a certain scripture. There are days that people send me a facebook message, or an email, or a text and it is exactly what I needed to hear! (And you guys, I am so, incredibly grateful you take the time to do that! It makes me feel so loved!) But some days, I know all that stuff, and it still doesn't change how I FEEL. Because I feel angry, and hurt, and frustrated, and sad. And more than a cheerleader yelling encouragement from the banks, I need someone to get in the boat with me and tell me it's OKAY to feel how I feel. And that those feelings don't make me less of a Christian, or less of a person.
Some days, I just need to feel like I have permission to be where I am, and to know that people will love me through it.
I think somewhere along the way, we Christians began to think that comforting someone equals encouraging them. But friends... sometimes you can't fix it. Sometimes, you can't make someone feel better. Sometimes, comfort just looks like "weeping with those who weep." (Romans 12:15) It's a hard lesson to learn (and one I struggle with too) but I think it's an important one.
The TRUTH is - God is in control. The TRUTH is - He has a plan, and He called us to this adoption, and He will see us through.
But the TRUTH is also, that I am a mother that has been waiting for a child for almost 3 years with no end in sight. I am a 31 year old woman who wants a house full of kids who doesn't even have the first one yet. I am a professional woman who feels like her life is on hold - because we have no idea how long this adoption will take to be completed (and it affects every single facet of our lives - including our work.) I am a wife who is tired of how the sadness and stress of adoption affects my marriage. I am a friend who is tired of how the sadness and stress of adoption affects my friendships. I am an intelligent, capable person who has dealt with incredible incompetence from a lot of people in our adoption journey. And I am a loving, dedicated mother-to-be who has been second guessed and picked apart by certain people (people who were supposed to be in our corner) in our adoption process. All of that will do a number on your heart.
The truth is, even though God is in control, we still live in a broken world where children grow up abandoned and alone. That's a travesty.
The truth is, we are a loving family - waiting to bring home a child in need of a loving family - and a whole lot of things are standing in our way. That's not just unfortunate - that's an injustice.
(There's a lot of injustice in the adoption world these days. *sigh)
And you know what? I serve a God who hates injustice... a God who is grieved by the plight of the orphan.
I shouldn't be okay with this! We have open hearts and an open home ready for a little girl who needs us, and we can't get to her. That's not okay. There is a child out there without parents to love her, protect her, and provide for her - and that's NOT okay. I have every right to be just as angry and upset about adoptions taking way too long - and children growing up institutionalized, as I do to be angry and upset about human trafficking, and poverty, and children dying from preventable diseases, and cancer, and suicide, and precious couples struggling with infertility. It's all injustice. So I'm not going to apologize for being upset about it anymore.
I still have hope in my heart, and I DO still trust God with this process, but there is no word of encouragement or bible verse that will take away the ache of not having my little girl home. And I'm realizing that's okay.
(Thanks Stef, for helping me realize that.)
Jesus felt all these emotions, and He lived a sinless life. He wept. He got angry. He even begged God to consider a different plan before He went to the cross. He never apologized for those feelings, because they weren't a sin. So I'm not going to either.
So for all of you who are struggling through the same situation - this is me, giving you permission to feel whatever you're feeling. And for those of you wondering how to love us through a difficult season (whether it's a lengthy adoption, infertility, cancer, a death in the family, etc) - just remember that while we do need your encouragement and your prayers and your bible verses - sometimes we just need you to hug us, grieve with us, and tell us, "This sucks. I hate this for you! This isn't fair. I'm SO sorry."
Climb in the boat with us every now and then. It helps us not feel so alone.