Friday, September 30, 2016

When Your Mountain Doesn't Move

August has come and gone. Our mountain did not move... and our miracle did not come. Not only did we not travel to get our daughter in August... we didn't even get our Article 16 approval from Thailand. Nothing good happened that month in our adoption. As far as we know... nothing happened at all.

After hearing God speak "August" to my heart for weeks and weeks, this lack of movement was truly devastating. You see... I didn't randomly pick August out of a desire to travel then. I had no reason to believe we'd get approval then either. But I heard God speak it so clearly to me... and then watched as He confirmed it with friends too. Some had dreams. Others had their own signs of confirmation. Rusty and I prayed, and praised, and worked to prepare in faith. We just knew August was our month.

I've never been so sure of a word from God before. I've never stepped out in faith so publicly before. It was incredibly vulnerable and scary... but I had so. much. peace. So I did it anyway.

And then nothing happened.

I can't begin to describe how it felt to see August come and go with no movement. It shook my faith to the core. I've asked a lot of hard questions the past few weeks. Questions like, "Did I hear God's voice? Can I even discern it anymore? After years of doing ministry... how could I miss this?! How could I get this wrong? And how do I move forward in my faith and my work if I can't discern God's voice anymore?"

"What if I can hear God's voice... and He did say August. Did He change His mind? If He changed His mind... then how do I trust Him anymore? What if He didn't change His mind... but He wasn't able to do this for us? Is He not omnipotent after all?"

"Our daughter is growing up without us. We've been fighting for her for almost 5 years. Why won't God move on our behalf? Why won't He intervene? We have hundreds of people praying for our adoption all over the world. Is God not listening? Doesn't He care? How does our situation not move Him to action? Do any of our prayers even matter?"

I feel weak confessing that these are my questions right now... but I have been honest with you all throughout this process, and I want to keep being honest and vulnerable. Things haven't been very pretty around here lately. Most days I waver between intense anger and deep sadness... all while searching desperately for meaning in this dark, difficult season.

I've listened to this song at least a dozen times since August. These words ring true to my heart...

I'm so confused
I know I heard you loud and clear
So I followed through...
But somehow I ended up here
I don't want to think
I may never understand
That my broken heart is a part of your plan
When I try to pray
All I've got is hurt and these four words...

... but I can't manage to sing the rest of the song. "Thy will be done" is a scary thing to pray when you aren't sure if God's will includes getting your daughter home. And "your plans are for me... goodness you have in store" are difficult words to sing when you're questioning the goodness of God.

The last 6 weeks have held some of the darkest days of my life. On top of the devastating realization that we wouldn't be traveling in August, we've dealt with additional delays, errors, and issues with our adoption. In the past month and a half - we've been told that we likely wouldn't have Kate home until the Spring of 2017 (which means we'd miss another Christmas and her 4th birthday). We were then told that we got a big approval from Thailand - so we got hopeful again... only to have hope dashed 12 days later when we were told that there was a mistake and the approval actually didn't happen. And then, that same week, we found out that we lost our home study agency here in Alabama, and we would have to start over with new paperwork, more fees, and a whole new agency to continue moving forward.

To say that we have been through the ringer would be an understatement. Our new agency told us that what we're enduring is considered a "traumatic adoption". They've been wonderful, and they're very compassionate... but they're concerned with how all we've endured will affect us once we're home with our daughter.

I'm concerned too. For a long time I felt that our struggle was strengthening us. I've tried so hard to press in to this process and to grow through the pain and waiting. I've searched for answers and meaning and lessons from God throughout the past 4 years and 6 months. But after fighting for our daughter for so long, I was finally pushed past my breaking point last month. My faith was crushed. God has seemed distant and silent. It has been hard to see any goodness or hope in our situation lately.

If I'm being honest, I have struggled to find any comfort or peace since August passed. Scripture seems hollow. My prayers seem so pointless. It feels like they're bouncing off the ceiling. Most of the songs that would usually touch my heart instead make me bitter and angry. This is the one song I've been able to listen to... and it's been playing on repeat all month. It doesn't give me any answers.... but it's nice to know that someone else who has "lived a life of faith" has struggled with this kind of darkness and doubt.

I'm confessing all of this here because I don't want to hide the hard parts of our journey. I don't have any answers about why we're enduring this... and there have been days lately that it's been hard not to walk away from our adoption.

But I keep reminding myself that my daughter is NOT the cause of my pain. It's true that we have faced so much injustice and brokenness in our process... but NONE of this is her fault. Our sweet little girl is an innocent victim in all of this too! And she deserves a family. She deserves to be fought for. (Every child does.) 

So we are continuing to fight... but we're also calling in reinforcements. I am wounded and weary from this long, hard-fought battle... and the war isn't over yet. So I started seeing a Christian counselor last week (after a friend forced me to make an appointment) - and it was one of the best things I could have possibly done. I wish so much that I'd done it sooner! My counselor was horrified to hear all we've endured, and she is helping me work through it all so that when Kate comes home, I'll be in a healthier place spiritually and emotionally to parent her.


If you're reading this, and you're going through a dark season yourself... then I hope this post helps you not feel so alone.... and I hope you'll consider finding a counselor you can talk to as well. I felt a lot of shame for "not being strong enough" and needing to go to counseling... but the truth is, we were never meant to shoulder all our burdens alone. When our bodies get overwhelmed with bacteria or viruses - we get help. We go to the doctor! So when our hearts, minds, and souls get overwhelmed with injustice and loss and grief - we shouldn't be expected not to seek help for that too! None of us are superhuman. If you feel like you can't do it alone - you're probably right! And there's no shame in that. It's okay to not be okay. It's okay to ask for help. Asking for help isn't giving up the fight - it's just calling in reinforcements! No one can fight alone on the front lines forever.