Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Growing Pains... (long but worth it) *wink*

When I have a conversation in my mind the world outside goes blurry. Kind of like the teacher on the Peanuts cartoons, or moments that are in movies when the main character goes into their own world of perception and chaos. In one short moment I go through so many thoughts and ideas that it can be frustrating and angering keeping them in the correct place. 

Many times I lose my thoughts, or simply misplace them. At times I can give myself a quiet moment to recoup, trace back and unearth the lost thought amongst some trivial “what if’s” or “could be, if only” ideas. Other times I resign to the idea that once a thought is lost it can only be reclaimed by blunt force via guilt, or the occasional memory recall through smells or picture viewing, or maybe never at all. I once tried to explain to my daughter how much I think about in any given moment of the day and her jaw unhinged. She lost hope for her future of grown up clarity of mind.

My mind has been such a jumble for so long that I can look at journal entries and not have any recollection at all of writing it. Recently I unearthed a gem. It was a letter I wrote to my unborn baby. I was ten weeks pregnant and I had just had a visit to the doctor to have things checked out. I certainly remember that time in my life, but I don't remember writing this letter. It was as if I had unknowingly put a time capsule in the middle of my journal, and God had ordained the day I should discover it.

My daughters eleventh birthday was two weeks ago. I was a ball of sloppy mess for the two weeks leading up to the celebration. Two weeks later and I still can't stop crying about her growing up. I had to pull it together for her slumber party that commenced with six little ladies taking over the basement. I did succeed, long enough to observe the whimsical laughter and giggles of her friends, to serve the goodies and clean up the mess. Her growing up isn't the hard thing, though. I am so honored and blessed to watch her grow and stumble and push through life. I have been here for everything…the first, the tears, the discoveries, the apprehensions, the joys, etc. It’s beautiful to watch. 

But the older she gets, that means the older the other baby that I wrote about in my journal gets. That is where my tears come from.  The tiny one that was the first to open my womb, the helpless one that opened my heart: I found the letter to him in my journal two weeks ago. He will be thirteen in September. The baby I carried thirteen years ago was to find another family to grow up in, but not before he caused my heart to explode with grateful joy.

He was adopted into a dear family, whom I had the great blessing of picking out. (I say that loosely, as it is God who makes our path and God who brought the family to me.) At the time that I got pregnant I was a wandering, flailing, hurting mess of a woman. I had multiple guys that could have been the father, and others whom I had wished were the father. I was tortured by questions of eternal things and would cry myself to sleep as I tried to comprehend what life would be like with another soul to care for. I would be responsible for what happened in his life. I would have to answer for any and all choices I made. How could I make this choice?

I was convinced I loved him enough to give him what he needed, and that I had plenty of family to help me take care of him. But as time went on and he grew, and I felt him kick, and I heard his heartbeat, and I imagined what he would face…I couldn’t. I couldn't picture myself as a mother. I had, for my whole life, desired to be a mother. I was getting what I wanted, but only partially. I wanted to be a mother, but I wanted to be a wife first. I wanted to love my husband and grow a family with him, but I had jumped the gun, skipped ahead, pushed the fast forward button, and had the baby before I had a husband. I had lots of boyfriends, but that was not even close to having a hubby!! I wanted to be a mother, but I knew this would not be my moment.

I couldn’t. I couldn't let this little baby, this tiny person, grow up without a Daddy. He needed someone who knew how to give him hugs, and discipline, and make him laugh, and cheer for him at soccer games. He needed to have somebody that was strong and able, somebody who was willing to take risks for him. I couldn’t. I couldn't give him anything. Well, in a way I could give him what I couldn’t: a family through adoption. I could give him a chance; a chance to see the bigger world, to have bigger dreams, to soar and to fly and to know generosity and kindness. I could do that.

My wings were clipped. I was broken. I was down for the count before I even started. In defeat I took my request to God. I didn't barter, I didn't question why, I only searched. I needed to know how to get through this. How do I take one day and add another, and another, and a month, and another month, and nine months and 50 something pounds later…how do I take all that and be okay at the end? How was I supposed to get through that?

I had friends that gave gentle nods of encouragement with shrugs of “I don’t know, Tink.” I had family that offered to help, even to the point of taking full responsibility for his care, and I had the mirror. I looked in the mirror one day and I didn’t recognize what I saw. Not that much had changed, but I had sped through the last few months before getting pregnant without paying any attention to me. I didn’t know myself. I was making choices in that time that I would have never chosen again if I had slowed down enough to think.

As soon as I had that revelation I started to talk to people about what I knew I needed to do. I made calls of inquiry for adoption and was met with nothing but grace. The doors opened, and kept opening. People rose to the challenge of helping an adult woman who was pregnant out of wedlock because of selfish choices. They offered housing, prayers, financial help, food, rides, clothing, etc. God gathered me up in his arms and held me through that time. He gave me hope, and his people gave me comfort. He gave me peace and his people gave me laughter. The people that worked miracles in my life with little things like fresh baked bread and a coffee, or a prayer and a ride to church, were the reason I got through that time. He answered my cries in abundant ways as I cared for the baby in my womb.

I didn't realize what state my faith was in at the time of getting pregnant until I found the letter in my journal. Over the past thirteen years whenever I think about that time I could only remember snippets from the end of my pregnancy. I couldn't recall any of the jumbled thoughts or ideas…they were lost. Until this letter. This letter opened my eyes to see the grace of God in my life in a way that makes my heart ache for all the moments I can’t remember, as I know that many of the lost thoughts and memories are steeped in rich blessing and adoration of my heavenly father.

I know that every moment of my life has been, and will be, a testimony to His good graces, His mercies, His love, and my heart aches at the thought of not having the ability to recall all the wonderful moments spent with Him caring for me.

After reading the letter I remember more. I remember calling His name and praying so hard it hurt, tears burning my face and sobs waking me from sleep. I remember my joy at hearing his heartbeat the first time, knowing that even as I stumbled in sin God was gracious to care for me. He waited for me, He watched me, and wrapped me in His arms when I was too weak to even cry, when I fell in surrender to His love and guidance. I remember hearing over and over and over from those who love Him “It’s going to be ok” and I was confident they were right.

I remember the strength He gave me to meet each day head on, even if it was just enough strength to wake up. I remember knowing that the baby in my womb was a gift, and I was given the charge of caring for him the best I could. I remember how the adoption was easy in the way it shouldn’t be, and hard in the way it should be. I remember breaking to pieces after delivery as I bathed in warm water and prayed for the child I was preparing to let go of.

I know my soul is secure in the hands of a loving God. I know my broken heart will be made whole in His good time. I know my faith is strong, and that when it’s weak He is strong. I know that the husband He blessed me with is a gift, and that the two beautiful children (who are rapidly becoming much older much quicker than I hoped!) He has blessed us with are in our care only by the grace of God. I know that the young man who was once an eight pound bundle in my arms for a moment is in His arms. I know I will keep writing, so I can keep finding glimpses of grace in my life. I will continue to be an open book so others can see the love, grace, and hope the Lord offers those who fall into His arms of loving care. I will keep thinking what seems to be hundreds of thoughts at one time so I can pray that many more times. I know how to care for my children only because God showed me how He cared for me.

As I continue to schlep through life and wade through thoughts a plenty, and tangled messes of ideas and broken memories, getting pounded by noisy recollections, I will continue to watch. I will watch my children grow, I will watch my wrinkles deepen, I will watch the grace unfold around me. And where I cannot see to watch, I will pray for the Lord to help me see Him.

Psalm 16:5-11
"The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.  The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.  I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.  I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.  Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.  For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.  You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."