Love. It is supposed to feel warm, tender and good. It is all the warm tingles. It is happiness and fullness. God’s love is the best, the warmest hugs from a heavenly father. But what about when HIS love doesn’t feel warm and fuzzy. What happens when your love runs out, when your child’s love runs out? What if you are walking in an obedience out of love but it doesn’t feel great, awesome, amazing. Rather it is akward, hard, broken and messy. How can we find the love in the middle of the hard, of the brokenness?
I distinctly remember waking up the morning after we landed back in the US from Africa. We now had three new members of the family. Sweet little boys who we were supposed to love and who were supposed to love us. This was God’s plan. We completely walked in obedience to him on this one. So it should be a fairytale, it should be easy, it should be warm and fuzzy. It wasn’t. Not even one bit. Matt and I looked at each other and said, we don’t know how to love them like we love our girls. We were perplexed, confused and sad. The boys didn’t seem to like us much either at first. It was an exhausting dance of intentionality for many months as we learned to love. It will never be over. This is a forever dance. For months Matt and I looked at each other and said, we don’t get it, everyone else who has adopted seems to have it all together. Why are we struggling so much? What is wrong with us? Why can’t we love them like they deserve to be loved? I had so much guilt and sadness (to be honest, I sometimes still do) over the fact that they have a mom. Their mama has that beautiful natural bond with her babies. A bond that God created. It is the perfect love between a mother and a child. I wrestled with God. I told him I’m not enough. I can’t be that for them. I don’t know how. Why would he take such beautiful, perfect boys away from a mama who has the ability to love them way better than I ever could? I don’t know the answer to this question. I am hopeful that someday God will reveal this piece to me. I do know that he very clearly wanted these boys in our family. And I do know that he spoke to me and told me that love can be redefined. Love can be hard, messy and broken. He told me that love is giving them Jesus when my humanness fails. You see in these days when guilt, shame, and sin wanted to overtake love, Jesus came and his light shined brighter. In the midst of the struggles, the one thing we were consistent on was teaching them about Jesus. Reading scripture, worshiping, attending church, life lessons, prayer. Lots and lots of prayer. Because when I had nothing left to give, I knew that Jesus could fill the gap. His love was enough to cover my anger, my frustration, my lack of perfect love. There were so many times I talked to my kids about Jesus and how he loves them more than daddy and I ever could. And I’m so thankful for that gift. My constant prayer is that HE would cover them, that he would fill them to overflowing. He is the one who provides the peace, the joy, the goodness. He has taught me that love can look crazy like this. It’s not this neat, tidy package of perfection. It’s not always warm and fuzzy, it can be ragged and rough. But his grace and mercy are enough, his perfection is enough. The cross is enough.
The times that I have felt the father’s love the most have also been the hardest times. The most difficult paths to walk. They have been paths of obedience or trials, but they have never been easy. In these seasons, I feel his love hot, burning like a fire through me, around me. I long to live in that space, that place of love and dependence on my heavenly father.
Adoption has been the most difficult road we have walked, but it has also been the sweetest spot of love. We are cradled and held in huge loving Jesus arms. As things settled down with the boys and we got into a groove, I longed to do more. This is too easy, who needs a break, let’s run hard to the finish, to the next thing. We moved to a bigger house and started foster care classes, sure this is what God had planned for our family. Matt was hesitant, but trusted in my lead. And again, God showed up and redefined love. This time it came in a big fat NO. He clearly spoke to us that this was not the ministry our family was supposed to pursue. It was so hard, so messy, so broken. Again, the guilt and shame burned in me. What will people think? Clearly this makes sense, clearly God would be calling us to this. We have experience, we have room, we can take more children. I kept pushing forward for some kind of adoption, domestic, international. Something. Longing for that sweet spot of dependence on the Lord. Longing to serve, to run the race. Every time he clearly said NO. And I realized that this no was so loving, so incredible, so beautiful. It didn’t feel like that. It felt awful, yucky, dark. The love came as His no released the best yes. The best yes for our family. The best yes for those families clearly called to foster care and adoption. It was so so hard to be obedient to the no but it has released a fountain of blessing for us to say yes to the ministries we are truly called to. For us to say HELL YES (thank you Jen Hatmaker!!) to the things that ignite us. And it is beautiful to watch the families who are called to adoption and foster care and to see how his love is surrounding them.
Sometimes the love comes in form of a no. Sometimes the love comes as a crazy, broken mess. Sometimes the love is hard to understand. It’s not always warm and perfect. But it is always there, hiding in the shadows, waiting to hold us tightly. If we allow ourselves to have eyes to see, he will redefine love and it will come in greater ways than we could ever imagine.