“Everything is packed,” she told me as she came down the stairs. I smiled a little. It had only been a few minutes since I sent her up so I told her perhaps I’d better check. We walked into the room and there were her dresses, still hanging. The clothes folded on the shelves. The stuffed animals piled happily on her bed.
“No, dolly,” I explained, “you need to pack up everything.”
“But I’m coming back,” she said, “to be part of your family. I can just leave some stuff here in my room.”
Oh, Lord, how does one explain courts and the laws of adoption to a child?
We sat right down, there on the floor of her bedroom, and talked about how things weren’t decided yet but she was loved so deeply and so wonderfully that everyone was going to work to take care of her. The adults would talk and do paperwork. There just wasn’t any way to know ahead of time what would happen. We just have to trust.
She nodded and I helped her pack up everything that was hers.
After she left I went upstairs to shut the bedroom door and saw a bump on her bed. The nose of her little stuffed dog stuck out just the tiniest bit. I shook my head and turned to leave when I saw two of her dresses hung back up. Oh, the little dolly, I laughed to myself, I can’t wait until she comes home to stay.
But sometimes things don’t go as you desire. And sometimes lawyer bills get paid and home visits take place and no one ends up coming home.
When the email came I shut the door tight on my dreams. We flew to Alaska and walked through moss-covered forests and somewhere in the middle, when I was crying out to God and aching in pain, He came and sat quiet with me. A month of peace followed, where I was able to trust and lay it all down and find rest in Him who is able to keep us from falling.
But sometimes the quiet comes just before the storm.
We arrived back home and I braved the stairs and opened the door and packed up a box of my little girl’s things and mailed them off to the place where she lives without me. It was over. I was done. I had made it. I took deep cleansing breaths and thanked God for holding me tight through it all.
Later, one afternoon, I was working on a project and needed a piece of material. I climbed the stairs absentmindedly and pulled open the drawers where my sewing supplies were kept.
Sometimes pain surprises you and before you can put your armor in place, the fiery darts pierce and tear at your heart. She had tucked them in, another pair of pants and a shirt. Her hopes of someday were wrapped up in the clothes that she had hidden away to be there when she came back. But all our hopes were gone and I ached so much all I could do was sit and cry.
When I finally found shuddering breaths all I wanted to do was curse God and this broken world and all the stupid pain that seemed to fill every part of life. “What was the point?” I demanded of Him, and my fists clenched to stop the shaking.
I couldn’t sleep that night, so wrapped in anger and sorrow, so I paced the house and held trembling hands to my aching stomach that twisted and writhed. All the vicious lies were back, mocking me, laughing in glee as they fed my mind with their condemning deceit. You’re not good enough. You’re not thin enough. You’re not rich enough. You’re not smart enough. If you had built a better house. If you had hired a better lawyer. If you had answered those questions differently. If you had… If you had… If you had…
Finally, something in me snapped. I tore open my journal and started scratching hard words onto the pages. The curses and fears and sorrows and anger bit into the book and somewhere in the confusion, things began to make sense.
With You, God, there is unfailing love, remember?
With You there is full redemption.
So where is it? Is it really for me or is it just for the ones you love more?
Maybe I don’t deserve it. Maybe I’m just one of the dogs begging at your table.
Tears blurred my vision because this is it, isn’t it? The greatest fear I carry, the reason pain debilitates me. I see the journey through pain as the lack of love. And I fear that I am unlovable and unwanted and unworthy.
So I opened up to the book of John, there at my kitchen table at one in the morning, and started looking for miracles. Because all I needed was a crumb. Just a taste. Something to stop the starving ache that was tearing apart my insides.
And I found Jesus at the wedding supper, saying to His mother, “My time has not yet come.” And Mary not listening. And Jesus preforming a miracle for her. (John 2)
Then I found Jesus at the well with the Samaritan woman who is broken and unworthy, but to whom He gives streams of living water. (John 4)
The Official, who comes to Jesus to ask for his son to be healed. And Jesus rebukes them for needing miracles to believe, but His compassion is so great that He does what is asked. (John 4:43)
And Jesus, talking to the man at the pool, saying, “Do you want to get well?” But the man doesn’t answer the question. Doesn’t have any idea what Jesus is offering. He just gives excuses. And Jesus heals him anyway. (John 5)
Then we find the five thousand who are hungry, and the disciples who don’t know how to feed them, and Jesus who gives thanks and breaks the bread, and there are twelve baskets left over. (John 6)
And the voice of God thunders through my kitchen. For here we have found my true beliefs.
I don’t believe. Oh, God, forgive me. I don’t believe there is even a crumb left for me?
His promise is more than enough. It is.
When I [personally] stand face-to-face with Jesus Christ and He says to me– “Believest thou this?” I find that faith is as natural as breathing, and I am staggered that I was so stupid as not to trust Him before. – Oswald Chambers
I couldn’t see because I wasn’t standing before Him.
The truth runs deep. To find God in the middle of my pain, I have to turn to Him. He’s right there. He is. With the bread of life and the living water held out with nail-pierced hands. But it’s my choice to face Him or curse Him.
And when I turn, when I reach out my hands, He fills them to overflowing. His Word reigns truth into my heart and my mind and the lies are silenced in the face of glory. And He Is. Even here where it hurts. He Is.