Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Falling off the monkey bars, and looking for joy

They tell you not to take it personally when you don't get chosen in an adoption opportunity.


It's easy enough to say, "Ok, we won't take it personally" .. until you get that phone call, like the one I got yesterday: "Well, for whatever reason, and we don't know what that is, but ... she went with a different family."  And suddenly you can't tell if the world has stopped spinning or if it's suddenly spinning so fast it makes you dizzy.  I've had a few people ask me today how I'm feeling, how I'm doing. Usually I say something like: "It is what it is, and we're survive."  (which is true) But, how does it really feel like for the childless one who just found out that a specific adoption dream has fallen apart?  Well, here it is - in all it's raw honesty.  I can only speak from my own experience but this is how it feels to me:

You know when you're a little kid and you fall off the money bars, and you land on your back so hard that for a moment you can't breath - the breath gets "knocked out" of you.  It feels a little bit like that.

You feel slightly relieved that at least the wait is over and you know, but at the same time you would give anything to go back to before you got the call - when you found yourself dreaming of how your baby would smell when you gave your baby a bath ... but there is no going back.

If you aren't with your spouse at the time, all you want is to be in his arms.  But, you also dread seeing the look of disappointment in his eyes.  And no matter how amazing he is, you feel like you need to apologize for being the barren one and making him go through this emptiness.  Even though you know he loves you and doesn't blame you - in that moment and as you process the end of this dream, you blame yourself.

You suddenly feel like you can't do it ever again.  No matter what comes, you literally cannot handle the broken feeling that comes at moments like these.  You want to call back your agency and tell them to take your name out of the list of names.  But, like most feelings, this one is often a see-saw of wanting to give up, and longing to find a different program, a new dream - because even though this is so painful, you are addicted to this dream.

You dread telling people. You feel like you are letting down your parents, siblings and friends who have been praying and excited with you. The joy of adopting is magnified by having family share in the excitement (I imagine), but the pain is also magnified when you see the disappointment in those who looked forward to welcoming a child into their lives too.

You wonder - even though your social worker specifically told you about 3 times that it wasn't personal and you would never know, you still wonder what exactly it was that made the birth parent choose someone else. It's fine to say it's not personal, but in that moment, all you know is that someone looked at pictures of you, read words you agonized over, and didn't choose you.  You feel embarrassed - like the kid who didn't get picked for the team.

All the insecurities of your life flood back .. I usually feel fat and ugly.  I know I'm not fat and ugly, but for whatever reason I feel that way whenever I get this news.  It's very weird - and the only thing I can think is that I am so vulnerable in that moment that all the insecurities of my youth flood back over me.

You know that feeling after you spend the whole day on your feet, in the hot sun, without any water?  Well, after I get this news I feel kind of like that.  I feel so incredibly exhausted in every way: emotionally, spiritually, and physically.  All I want is to curl in a ball under the blankets and make the bad dream stop.

This is how I feel.  So, how do I respond?  Initially, I react similarly to how I reacted when my Grammie (who I lived with and walked her last years on earth beside) died.  I keep going in a bit of a dazed determination.  I find things to do, and I cling with everything in me to the One who never leaves - Who has promised me an eternity with no tears or pain.  I disagree when people say that God never gives us more than we can handle.  It was too much to handle for me when I watched my Grammie take her last breaths on earth.  This unfulfilled dream of children is too much for me to handle. I have to depend on Him to handle it for me.  Or I wouldn't make it through.  I'm not that strong.  But, He is.

I'm thankful that in this moment, as I pack up my dreams for the next time they are awakened, my life is not ruled by how I feel.  Yes, it consumes me at times and is so overwhelmingly painful.  But, in the same times, if I keep my eyes on God to be my strength I make it through.  I went to work today - where not one person knew of what the last few weeks have held, and I looked for and found joy.  I found it in the students and their excitement for life, I found it in the beauty of a tree full of pink and yellow tissue-paper blossoms, and I found it in the smell of fresh basil being planted behind my classroom.  I came home, and found joy in the man who is always faithful and loving to me (I will forever be amazed and thankful for his choice of me).  I found joy in talking on the phone to my nephews as they lay in their beds across the ocean.  I found joy in a hot shower, in clean clothes, in an oven to bake in, in making dinner ... my heart hurts but there is joy everywhere if I look for it.

Not all of you reading this are going through infertility, and the crazy road of adoption.  But, I'm pretty sure that if you're human, you have had moments that feel like this.  So, I challenge you to look for joy.  Looking for joy doesn't mean that the stuff you're going through doesn't rip your heart into shreds.  It doesn't mean that you are "happy" - joy is so much deeper than what our world says "happiness" is all about.

And, it's there if we look. 

Let me know what you find.  :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The beautiful secret in the night

If you know me it will come as no surprise that I do not love living in a tropical climate - and I live in Hawaii.  How I ended up here is an interesting tale, but one for a different day. :)  I dislike being sticky and hot, and having my hair turn into something that resembles an un-brushed Old English Sheepdog (it took me while to figure out a similarity to the mess of my hair - but having raised a sheepdog I think it is fitting)  I miss having Northwest fruits almost daily, I only like 2 tropical fruits that I have tried so far.  I would not go as far as to say I hate living in Hawaii - but it just is not where I hope to live for the rest of my life.  When people ask me how I like living in Hawaii I usually say that it is a fun adventure for this season of our lives.  And that is true.  There are lots of fun bits to living here - the most fun being that I get to have my husband be my top priority and all the time we get just the two of us.  But still, Hawaii is just not my dream location.

But tonight - oh tonight I had an experience that changed my view of this place.

It happened after a very long day with work: as we drove up our mountain (we live on one of Hawaii's many volcanoes) the rain increased.  We then were in the middle of thick cloud and heavy rain, and we actually drove past the cloud (we live at 3,000 feet) and pulled into our driveway.  Because it was still raining, my sweet Farmer Boy dropped me off at the door (isn't he the best?!)  and went to park our car.  I nearly did the splits slipping on the driveway - but eventually I gracefully managed to get onto the deck.

And then IT hit me.

The most enchanting fragrance I had ever experienced.  It was pitch black, heavy and hurried raindrops dancing and singing on the tin roof, and I was frozen in stunned breathlessness.

Night-blooming jasmine:  a powerfully fragrant, yet gentle as old fashioned lace floral scent rolling through the rain-drenched night air.  And I was transfixed and amazed.  Immediately I was in love: deep, abiding love - the kind that knows that years from now, if I catch the tiniest breeze of night-blooming Jasmine I will return to this little home my Love and I have made in this new and adventurous place.

I was not in love with the scent as much as I was enthralled by the One who made it.  The glorious freshness of this night, the frog chorus raising and competing with the raindrops dancing on the roof, the clouds of mist ushering me into our home, the welcome feeling and being home after a long day.  Gratitude for all He is and does.

This moment was short but powerful at a time when I needed it.  This summer has been the most difficult and painful time of our life.  Dreams we dreamed, gone in a moment.  Futures we thought would be ours changed forever, door after door slammed in our faces, hurt too deep for words or tears, questions of if ever...  I needed this reminder today.  It has been challenging this year - so challenging.  And yet - just like the rain and nighttime usher in the beauty of the night-blooming Jasmine, so sometimes the hard parts of our life usher in moments of beauty.  Or maybe they just open up our eyes to see the beauty that was there all along.  This life is messy, and crazy, and draining.  But it is also unspeakably glorious, and creative, and life-giving.

Part of the beauty that struck me was that I never get to enjoy that enthralling fragrance during the sun-filled days.  It is only in the darkness of night that the true beauty of this heavenly flower is enjoyed.  Isn't life like that?  During the days of happiness and sun-soaked life, we sometimes miss out on exquisite beauty that only come from times that may seem dark and stormy.  It's a lesson I have seen over and over again, illustrated through nature in little and enormous ways.  I know it's something God wants me to remember always.   May I be faithful to remember this light-bringing truth in the times that are dark.

 I have the blessed choice to allow the hurt of today to bring beauty into my tomorrow.

And I choose to open up and allow the beauty to sweep in where the ashes are.  I choose to breath deep of the fragrance of God's grace and goodness in this moment - because it's always there if we have eyes to see.

I'm so thankful for the night-blooming Jasmine, and the picture of beauty in unexpected places.