It's not as odd as it sounds...

Prayer happens everywhere, even in the tanning bed.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Biggest Disappointment of All...

I was raised on disappointment. Well at least that is how my father viewed me. I was always one big disappointment. He said it to me so often that I can remember the houses and rooms and furniture I was sitting on for many of the times he uttered those words. I cannot remember what I did (most of the times) to make him share that with me but I remember hearing those words from his heart to mine more often then any other words growing up. I swore I would never utter those words to my children and, for the most part, I haven't. It's not that I've not felt those feelings on occasion in regards to my family but to actually say those words, I am not sure I would have the strength. The memories I want my kids to have of life in our family are not ones that include them remembering the times I ever told them they disappointed me.

This year has been a year full of disappointments for me. I cannot remember a year when I have been so heartbroken so many times. A few by genetic family members, most by Christian brothers and sisters. With a history of being told how disappointing I was over and over again, that word is not one I use often and like the word crisis, means more than just being bummed or put out or just simply not getting my way. No, that word to me affects my gut, makes my heart feel like it's being wrung out like a wet rag and makes me wish I could not only throw up my stomach contents but my whole stomach as well. The myriad of disappointments I have felt and experienced this year have left me tear-less, there's just nothing left.

The biggest disappointment of all was/is so because I was so convinced that it wasn't going to be one I'd experience at all.

MJF and I have been excited to see how God's heart for orphans has been poured out upon many young families in our church. There are at least 3 families that I know of at our church and several other friends around the country who have sacrificed money, comfort, time, energy, and who knows what else to pursue adopting orphans from countries such as China and South Korea. All have by now either picked up, gotten travel dates or are patiently awaiting their referrals and  are prepared to leave at a moments notice to fly wherever is necessary to meet the child God has chosen for them. It's an exciting time as young American couples are seeing what God has known for a long time - that He is tender toward orphans and holds them close to His heart and that we who have so much should as well.

Unknown to most MJF and I have been on the adoption trail for quite a while. Longer than most of our adopting friends have been. To me, this is a no-brainer because I know how God wants His people to care for those without fathers and mothers. A no-brainer because I know how many orphans really exist in this world and it's shameful. A no-brainer because not one of my children would fail to delight in bringing a precious 6 or 7 year old little sister into our home and love her and introduce her to her Heavenly Father and raise her to know the joy of a forever family. A no-brainer because I know my God and I know that He can do anything and in spite of the sinful expense of adoption, He can overcome something so trivial.

What I was not prepared for was for Him to choose not to overcome something I thought was so trivial to Him but such a mountain to climb for us. See, we don't have a huge savings account, we have 4 children, 2 of whom have been going to college - for cash. We don't have any friends or family members that we felt had such a heart for adoption that we could prayerfully consider asking for large or small donations toward the cost of adopting. MJF doesn't work for a company or organization that reimburses part or whole amounts paid for the process. And after years of paying down debt, we didn't feel like God was leading us to take out a 25 thousand dollar loan to adopt a little sister for Kate (although I would have).

What I did have was jewelry, diamonds to be precise. For our 25th anniversary MJF paid, in cash,  thousands of dollars for a ring and necklace custom made for me. Those were meaningless compared to what we believed the life of a precious orphan from almost anywhere in the world would be worth. In the depths of my being I knew that those plus a few other pieces of gold and a couple other gems would cover at least 3/4's of the cost. The rest we could raise or earn through other means, we were certain of it.

What I wasn't prepared for was the lack of interest in our "plight". We had hoped that one of the store owners that we offered our jewelry to would consider selling it for us and would not take any profit for themselves. That wasn't to be. What they offered, and we had several prospects, was a fraction of their worth in order that when sold they would make quite a penny. What I was sure would happen failed to materialize. I was sure God would coordinate all the people and all the events and all the circumstances necessary in order that we would be able to dive head first into our adoption adventure and not be concerned with how we would afford to do it.

What really took me by surprise was how hard it was going to be to help Kate understand what God was doing. The challenge has been insurmountable because I can hardly understand it myself. For almost a year now I have been dragged kicking and screaming into conversations about how much she wants a little sister. What a great big sister she would be and the tears would flow in buckets as she would try to catch her breath to ask "but why?" Over and over again offering every last Christmas and Birthday penny she would ever get in her whole life just to be able to afford to adopt a little sister. And I would try over and over again to explain once more why I can't explain it, why I am just as sad as she is, why I don't understand God's decision but that I know it's the best because He never makes mistakes. Again and again two or three times a month I feel the life sucked out of me in these conversations not because I don't want to have them with her as much as I am struck with fear at the thought that somehow I cannot adequately explain to her God's desire to withhold from her something so obviously... well... something so obviously Godly.

So, again tonight, I had to maintain my composure just long enough for her to dry her eyes and me to escape into the chill of the night with the excuse of walking the dog. There, in the pitch black, I sobbed from the depths of my being to God, asking Him why... a question I rarely ask... and being reminded that this year, 2011, has been full of one disappointment after another.

Typically, when I find myself face to face with God on those walks, all alone, I finish my walk with some spiritual nugget that enables me to push forward and see the value of the trial or the struggle or the confusion. Tonight, however, I have no spiritual nugget. I only have the simple cement slab of faith and trust that started my journey with Him almost 30 years ago. It's enough for me in spite of my pain and sadness and confusion to cover the disappointments this year has brought. I pray that I can hand down that same faith and trust to my daughter so that she too will, one day, be able to get past what to her, so far, has been the biggest disappointment in her life as well.