There is nothing more exciting than those first years of just about anything. First years dating… first years of marriage… and your first years of parenthood. As I think back to some of the first years of the sweetest times in my life when things were “new” — I get nostalgic and I almost always think how simpler things seemed and felt.
Our adoptions are no different. I mean — how exciting were the moments you and your spouse remember now — deciding you would grow your family through adoption?! Sharing this with your family and friends was just as exciting — and man… I also felt so close to the Lord longing and crying out to the Lord for my child. So much belief and certainty filled my heart. And so bold were my prayers knowing — believing He could and He would answer every prayer and bring my children home in His perfect timing. We would make “God timing” connections and share the coincidence of each piece of the waiting. And time and time again I shouted out the faithfulness of my God.
The same awe and certainty of God’s hand in our story continued through travel, meeting our children and the months that followed coming home. I can remember the first years home for both of our boys. For the first years home, I would post pictures and share stories on Facebook often with something along the lines of, “Can you believe he is right here?!” For the first birthdays home I would cry and make the biggest deal…and grieve the birthdays I missed.
And then… somewhere along the way — the years set in and we all got real comfortable… and so did our children. This — this is honestly when the real healing began. This is also where my “unbelief” began as well.
The first years of waiting, bringing home children and the therapies for my children — it was so easy to believe God was going to work miracles for us, our family uniting together and deeply heal the heart of my children from hard places. But as the years flew by and the days became long, unbelief set in. When we were released from therapies and the counselors said we were good — I found myself feeling more disconnected. When I stopped having miracles to share — and they were finally comfortable to heal and let the years of bottled up feelings out (always when we were already 10 minutes late for something important) — my buttons would be pushed and I realized I was the one that had the most work to do.
When things feel desperate with a clear solution — when it is clear to me that He is the only answer — it was easier for me to trust and believe.
It’s the years into a process where I give up, feel I just need to accept my lot and begin to get by no longer desperately crying out to see Jesus come through.
I love what the Lord says in Malachi 3:6a-7, “I the Lord do not change… return to me, and I will return to you says the Lord Almighty.”
I thought the first years home we were connecting deeply — but it wasn’t until I began to see where we really were that any of us was really ready for real, deep connection. Our children are fighters. They come home ready to play, color and do many things they did in their foster homes and orphanages. They go with the flow — and thank goodness they are resilient and can do this — but this is also what made it possible for them to survive with multiple placements. Often it isn’t even until years in that they are finally feeling safe enough to unpack the years of hurt bottled up inside. Finally —this is their place — so I guess we should feel pretty thankful when years later it all starts coming out. After all, they are home. It just some times takes a long time to fully realize it.
For many of us — when things unfold for us this way — years later it surprises us as adoptive parents. The support has left the building and the friends and family see the new behavior as discipline problems. This is where I developed unbelief like the man in Matthew 17 who very much wanted to believe Jesus for healing but knew he needed to deal with a few things first. Unbelief? So I believed God for big things that were easy to see, but years in I had developed unbelief. For everyone it looks different, but for me…
…Trust would always be different for my kids from the hard places. As long as I could keep him happy, we would be okay…
…I can trust Jesus for my relationship with my children now while they are safe — but God when they are teens and adults — I don’t know about that… that feels scary to me…
….Things will always be harder in this relationship — God can’t fully connect us…
These were my “unbeliefs” after home 5 and 7 years… and, to be honest, many more that are too personal to share. I know the “right” things to say — but digging deep — I knew unbelief had taken root. I love what Spurgeon says about acknowledging this…
“While men have no faith, they are unconscious of their unbelief; but as soon as they get a little faith, they begin to be conscious of the greatness of their unbelief.”
The bottom line…
It is so easy to trust the Lord in the big things and in the beginning while we see God doing such big, miraculous things. In the mundane of meltdowns, laundry and, “Why did you clog the toilet and eat all the muffin tops off all the muffins AGAIN?”… I began to forget everything the Lord had already done to get us this far.
I stopped calling out to the Lord to takes us deeper into relationship with one another. The first years were filled with creativity to make eye contact, build trust and form connections. Finally — the years of connection were here — and my children were free to be children… messy, some times naughty, mischievous, wild and free little children.
I would let my mind run wild in those moments: Well — there went the muffin tops… I bet as a teenager _______ will happen. I would let my thoughts run wild – when I know good and well we are called to take our thoughts captive and give them all to Him.
I was wildly thinking of anything bad that might happen instead of remembering all God had already done.
Which – which makes me think of my baby bull. Y’all. I visited a farm and bought this sweet little bull — a Longhorn Wausi cross. He was this tiny thing whose mother rejected him and would only feed his sister. Staying on that farm he wouldn’t have lived — so we bought him and brought him home with the agreement when his horns are too big for us to handle the farmer will gladly buy him back.
Y’all. He is the cutest.
But when he is grown — I like to call it majestic. Take a gander…
One look at that picture of what he could look like.
So that’s exactly what I realized years into our adoptions I had started doing. I was allowing fear to be birthed from behavior rather than crying out to Jesus for more healing. God doesn’t want me to look to the left or the right — or even to worry about tomorrow. Just today. We can’t be driven or live in fear based on how things might turn out — but rather what we know to be true today and what the Lord is asking me to do with what is true today.
I realized my “unbelief” was actually rooted in fear of the future based on behavior changes — and you know what happened when I asked the Lord to show my any and all unbelief I had allowed to creep into my heart and mind regarding our adoptions? I was able to see them, begin praying through them and asking the Lord to show me truth to combat them. He showed me things to believe and trust Him for again and, to be honest, this has been the thing that has taken our family’s relationship deeper than I ever imagined. I truly believe there were fears rooted even in those first days I hadn’t uncovered. But, as I continued to ask the Lord to show me my unbelief, healing deeply began in a new real way.
In Matthew 9, there is a bleeding woman who has carried her ailment for too many years. She sees Jesus and pushes through the crowd to touch Him. Because she knows He can and will heal her. She really believes Him! She touches that tassel-filled cloak the Jewish men all wore and immediately she is healed. Truly — when we acknowledge our unbelief and really begin to believe Him — miracles happen.
I bought a tassel to keep on my key chain as a constant reminder as I run my sweet loves to school, activities and on errands — that He is who He says He is and He is the same God who led us and miraculously made us a family. He is going to do greater things than I can even imagine in our family and in the hearts of my boys.
The days may be long but those meltdowns feel differently to me now. And those tassels remind me while my voice might not always be as soothing as Dr. Karyn Purvis’ was 😉 He can do miracles even through a momma like me that struggles in the mundane and mess with one too many loads of laundry.
Once again — I am excited to see what He will do and I believe He will do it! I also believe He wants to and can do it for you as you strip away unbelief and believe Him again for miracles in your families lives too.