This little corner of the internet has been silent for quite some time now. Partly, because it is my “busy season” where homeschool and public school is in full swing for us, and it’s just plain crazy around here. But also partly because though I have so much that I want to share with you, I’m trying to be wise and seek God’s direction on exactly how much to share. As you know, the specifics of my family became quite a bit more detailed and complicated following our recent adoption of our 8-year-old son, James. There’s so much of his story that needs to be his to tell…but at the same time, there is so much of our collective story that I feel compelled to share in hopes that somehow, the glory of God will be evident. So that’s what I’ve been grappling with lately. I say all that because today I’m sharing a very vulnerable detail of my life right now. A detail that I have struggled with daily.
Yes, love. Before we ever adopted James, I asked God several times if I would be able to love a child who did not come from my body in the same way that I love the ones who did. It was one of my greatest fears. After much prayer, I felt confident that He wanted not only to help me love this child, but that He wanted to show me this whole new side of love. So, I forged ahead resting in this promise that God would be with me. I never imagined that the route that I’ve taken in the last year would leave me so much in awe of this thing called love.
If I can be blunt right now….everyone is annoying at times. Even me (maybe especially me). But it’s interesting how with my biological kiddos, when they are annoying, when I’m not feeling super lovey-dovey toward them, I have this well of love to draw from. It comes from the many long nights of rocking them as restless babies, the many days of nursing them to health during a sickness, the sweet times of joy when new skills were learned….all of those moments in life create this deep well of love. Loving them was so natural. So when Isaac, Hannah or Lydia are being not-so-loveable, it’s easy for me to draw from my reserve love to deal with them. On the flip side, it’s also easier for them to deal with me when I’m not being loveable. They know that I’m there always and forever. So this deep well of love goes two ways.
With James, that deep well isn’t so deep. In fact, it’s more like a small bowl of water rather than a well. Of course, every day we are building that well. We build it when we talk about his future and the fact that I will be in it. We build it with every bear hug. We build it with every shared life event and every tough conversation. But the fact is that crucial moments have been forever lost. Unfortunately the building moments of a year still amount to only about a bowlful. So in those moments when he’s being not-so-loveable, there’s not much to draw from. It just feels bankrupt. On the flip side, when I’m being unloveable, there’s not a whole lot for him to draw from either. It just feels bankrupt. The well seems completely dry.
And it’s that dry well that God keeps bringing me back to. I’ve cried many tears over this dry well in the last year. But, God is teaching me one of the greatest lessons of all…that love is not a feeling. Loving this little guy may not be the most natural thing I’ve ever done in my life, but I keep coming back to it every day. I keep showing up. And maybe that’s exactly what he needs…his mom to show up every single day.
Maybe the goal here is not to continually feel this bubbling up, overflowing, warm fuzzy kind of love…maybe this is the “I’m determined to love you every single day” kind of love. Maybe that’s just where we are in this journey. Every day, I wake up and pray that God will show me how to love James well. And while I feel like I fail at this task daily, I’m still showing up.
He’s also still showing up. He shows up every morning with a hesitant hug and a slight smile. He shows up every night when I tuck him in and he keeps coming up with questions and things to talk about so that I won’t leave. I know that he struggles with this love thing too. He rarely ever says, “I love you.” And when he does, I can see this little part of him that isn’t really sure. But that’s okay. I know how he feels. But he’s still showing up, and I’m so thankful.
Maybe that’s what the nitty-gritty love really is…just showing up every day, and not giving up simply because we aren’t feeling it today. Maybe it’s this continual process of denying yourself in order to learn the depths of another. I think that maybe this is what’s wrong with the world…we think that love is a magical baby angel who shoots arrows at us. Well, it’s not. Love isn’t always easy, but if we keep showing up, keep fully surrendering to God’s will, keep asking for His help, maybe one day, this “treading water” kind of love will start to collect in the bottom of a deep, deep basin. And over time, when we both keep showing up, the water in that basin will rise and rise. And one day, the well will just be there, deep and cool as ever.
I don’t think my story is true of every adoptive parent. In fact, I actually really hate being this honest with myself. But, as tough as this lesson has been (and is) to learn, I’m eternally grateful to God for taking me there. God is not only showing me how to love James well, He’s showing me how to love Him well and how to love people well, even the least of these. He’s showing me a whole new side of love, not the easy, fairy tale, princess kind…but the kind that is born out of determination and complete trust in God Almighty. As weird as it may seem, maybe this kind of love is what the world needs more of.
When I began this blog over two years ago, adoption was not even on our radar. I named the blog Redeeming the Days because I wanted to slow down life for my kids and reclaim the time to teach them the things that really mattered. It was the beginning of this movement in my life, this movement of trusting God with EVERYTHING. I had no idea that over time, that simple blog name would take on so many different meanings. Now, I’m redeeming the days with my son that I didn’t know the first 7 years of his life. It’s by far the hardest, but one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. And I’m so grateful to have this space to share this crazy journey with you.