Adopting children involves a great deal of preparation–everything from your home to your heart–and we did a bit of both this past weekend.
Our couch and chairs, which were perfect in a two bedroom apartment, left us looking a little house poor in the new digs. So we decided to go ahead and buy a sectional that we could use for entertaining and for what we hope will be many fun family movie nights. So we spent most of Friday hauling the old stuff to Goodwill and then filling the empty space with the lovely piece you see below.
The new monstrosity comes in four sections: chaise lounge, center couch, end couch, and ottoman. Three of the four pieces weren’t too much trouble, but the end couch (the one closest to you in the picture) was an absolute bear. Even after we removed the wooden feet and tried wedging it through the door from multiple angles, it still refused to go in. However, twenty minutes (and several frustrated grunts) later, we managed it. And I thought I’d never use geometry again after high school.
The schlepping wasn’t the part that got to me, it was getting the pieces up and down the back stairs. The reason? I don’t like moving around when I can’t see my feet. I just don’t believe I’ll hit stable ground when I don’t know exactly where I’m headed. I can’t shake the feeling that I’ll find the one hole to step in or that my foot will slip, either of which will end with me crashing to the ground. My brain knows that I’m okay—but for some reason, if I can’t see it, I don’t believe it. And until I can get my bearings, my stomach slushes around in my gut like a boat bobbing on choppy seas.
I felt much the same way on Saturday in our IMPACT training classes at Bethany. As we sat and listened to all the signs a child has been sexually abused and the ways in which he/she might act out, I felt that place in me go loose again. I floated on a sea of incertitude, lost and wondering where this process might take me. The questions flashed in my mind, all strobe lights and gaudy neon…
Who exactly am I bringing into my home?
What kind of damage has already been done, and is there enough love in me to help undo it?
Am I ready to raise a child who has faced horrors I’ve never even imagined?
How am I going to manage this and a full time job?
I honestly don’t know the answers to any of these questions that now hang in the air like an unresolved chord, dissonant and jangling.
I’m in the cavernous space between them and their answers. It’s a place of uncertainty where I can’t see my feet, spiritually speaking. I don’t know where this process will take me, if I will land on solid ground or find myself tumbling down the stairs. “Just show me a few details,” I ask God. “Like how many kids we’ll have. Or how about a heads up about the kinds of behavioral issues they’re going to have so I can research and prepare myself. Just a few clues, God. That’s all I need really.” But He’s silent. Not because He can’t answer me, but because answers aren’t what I need.
The other day, a good friend said, “Jamie, it’s in the act of faith that courage becomes a reality.”
That’s why (as much as I hate it) I need to stand, my foot hovering above the unknown, and trust God to take care of me when it lands. Why? Because the courage comes when you act, not as you wait.
Tim Challies put it this way in a recent blog post about making decisions:
“The thing we want [an answer] is a thing God does not give us. He is far too wise for that, and does not give us that view of the finish line, that sneak peak of the future. He could, of course….But he doesn’t.Instead, he does something far better: He gives us a view of himself. We don’t need to know the future when we know the one who holds the future. God does not want us to put our hope in a future outcome, but in him. We don’t ground our faith in a result, but in a Person. If we could see the future we would take our eyes off him. If we could see the future, our faith would be in the future. But when all we see is God, our trust must be in him.
God doesn’t comfort us by showing us the future, but by showing us himself. He shows himself as the all-powerful, all-knowing God who is for us, not against us. He shows himself as being far more committed to us than we are to him. He promises that he will never leave us nor forsake us, that he will work all things for good, that he will hold us firm to the end. He guarantees that he has purposes in this world and that nothing can change or interrupt or thwart them. He assures us that he will be glorified. He says, “Don’t look at the future, look at me!”
That’s what I have to remember in the empty, hollow space of dissonance—the resolution will come. Yes, the questions will be answered.
Perhaps they will be fast, miraculous, onomatopoetic answers….Zap! Bang! Boom!
But I think it’s far more likely to happen over a slow passage of years. I’ll get them as I help my children untangle the knots of pain in their souls and put themselves back together. Getting them will hurt, yes, and there will be tears of both joy and sorrow. But I cannot allow the lack of them to delay God’s plan for my life. So bring on the next piece of unwieldy furniture, the next challenge, and the next question.
I’m ready to step up.