let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will be made stronger
in the presence of my Savior.”
I am sure that many of the readers of this post are familiar with these lyrics from the popular song Oceans by Hillsong. Though I hear the song and these words quite often, they still haven’t lost their power to me. God speaks to me through words, written and sung. These beautiful lyrics have provided me with encouragement and strength in so many of life’s circumstances, not the least of which, adoption.
A little over a year ago my husband and I returned from China with our 3.5 year old son Elijah. We flew from Guangzhou, to Beijing to Washington DC and then drove 4 hours to our home in Virginia Beach. The oldest of my three biological children met us at the airport in D.C. and seeing the two brothers meet brought me to tears. I was so happy to be home. To be on American Soil, to sleep in my bed and to finally have all of our babies together under one roof.
The six month wait after we were matched with Elijah was hard. I often worried about him, wondered if he was safe and healthy and felt angst over whether or not we would actually be united. Once my husband and I finally made it to China I missed my three little ones at home so much it hurt. All I wanted was for us all to be together, to be a family. I felt that once we were united the rest would be easier.
I am sure many fellow adoptive parents laughed out loud when they read that last line, just as I did when I wrote it. Though I had such wonderful training and guidance there is no way to truly be prepared for the emotions, challenges and wonder of adoption.
I have shared in some previous posts the difficulties we encountered. However I would like to share the story of God’s presence amidst the turbulent oceans of our first year home.
You call me out upon the waters
On March 1, 20015, the day my husband and knew we were supposed to adopt, God whispered to me through a hymn at church, Jesus I My Cross Have Taken. As we sang out, “Go then earthly fame and treasure, Come disaster scorn and pain, in Thy service pain is pleasure, with Thy favor loss is gain” I was confident that God was calling us to adopt despite the costs.
I knew that the sacrifices that adoption required didn’t matter. I knew that God was not promising it would be an easy road but that it would be worth it. My husband felt similar conformation during the sermon and we began our application that afternoon.
Throughout the waiting I knew that God was calling us into deep and uncertain waters where it was not in our human strength to go without his guidance. I also knew that this was something we had been called to do and there was no turning back. The Lord filled me and blessed me with this confidence and courage in preparation for the road ahead.
Where feet may fail
Not long after we arrived home my feet more than failed. I was drowning. Elijah did not sleep. At all. And my body started shutting down. All six members of our family came down with strep and the worst case of the flu we had experienced. I was in so much pain all I could do was lay in bed and cry all day, worried that my attachment to Elijah was being ruined as I had to be quarantined.
When I was finally better there was an aftermath of debris to sort through. Elijah had attached to my husband who had to return to work and I was home all day, in a thick cloud of depression, with an unhappy, grieving, scared three year old.
And I will call upon your name, keep my eyes above the waves, as oceans rise
Mercifully God kept reminding me and nudging me toward the story of Peter in the bible getting out of the boat and walking on the water to Jesus. I had read the verse from my copy of Jesus Calling on the plane to China and then laying on my bed one night, waiting for Elijah to fall asleep, it came back mind in a personal way.
I felt like I was sinking in the middle of the stormy waters of my life. There were days I was not even sure we made the right decision to adopt. But God in his faithfulness reminded me that he never said it would be easy. That there was a sweet precious boy hiding underneath a mask of trauma and we had to get to him somehow. The oceans were rising, not quieting, as I was begging for God to do. But though grief and trauma is tormenting I had to let it happen for Elijah and for myself.
Just like Peter, I had seen Jesus walking towards me on the waters. I had heard his call to adopt loud and clear, I had no doubts and I stepped out of the boat in obedience and faith (Matthew 14:28). But suddenly I was in the stormy seas. I lost my footing and my gaze fell to the ocean’s waves enveloping. I stopped focusing on my Savior. I was drowning. But like Peter, Jesus reminded me that I could look up, reach out and grab his hand and ask “Lord Save me.” (Matthew 14:31). And he would.
My soul will rest in your embrace
I reminded myself of this story day in and day out. He was there with me and with Elijah and our entire family. He was healing our hearts and our fears. The stormy rough waters didn’t subside but he was holding me and keeping my head above water. He wasn’t going to let us drown.
I stayed in the head above water stage for a about a year. Some days I think I am still there. But I remember that I have the ultimate source of healing, the Healer himself is by my side. Not only healing my son, but healing me as well. Sometimes as adoptive parents we forget that our souls need healing and rest too.
Just like birth or major life change, adoption also disrupts the family balance. And as the parents that hold it together, we need help too. It is good and right that we are focused on our precious children who have overcome so much, but to do that well, we need to acknowledge our own pain, fears, anger and unmet expectations that we face during and after adoption.
Just as our children need us to hold them during this difficult transition, we need someone to hold us, wipe away our tears and remind us that we are doing the best we can. We can come to into the arms of Jesus, and let him hold us while we cry and then give us the strength to stand up, keep going and keep loving the little ones he has entrusted into our care.
I am yours, you are mine….