Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Not in Spite of...Because of

It's unusual to have such a large family in our culture. People erroneously assume we are a good catholic family. (Nope. Just passionate protestants!) Like any atypical American family, there is a story behind how we got here. But this is not the blogpost (or even site) for that.

It baffles many that we would choose to add another when we clearly have our hands full with "our own." We tend to get undue credit for having larger than normal hearts or for being so patient. 

Neither is true.

In fact, more often than not, we are counting down (sometimes aloud) the minutes until bedtime, when the house is finally, and blissfully, quiet even if for just a moment. Sometimes, I feel like I live in a state of perpetual frustration that "my stuff" is used, misplaced, lost. (This morning found me wrapped in a towel, dripping wet, and storming down the hallway in search of my shampoo that disappeared from my shower.)

People are amazed that we would adopt another in spite of our already large family size. They do not understand that it's not at all in spite of, but rather because of that has set us on this path.

As Christians, we believe in living beyond ourselves. It's when we come to the end of ourselves that God can move.

The Bible is full of promises that I mention often on this blog.  One to which I always come back is 2 Corinthians 12:9, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Another is Phillipians 4:19, "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus."

Having a large family has given us ample opportunity to prove these promises; to live it out and see if He who has promised really is able; to see if He who has called us is faithful.

And He is.

There was a seven year stretch where I was either pregnant or breastfeeding or both. I do not do pregnancy well. I am exhausted, sick, and often immobile, not to mention emotionally erratic. During the early months of one of the pregnancies, while I was wrapped around the toilet for the umpteenth time that day, Romans 1:1 came to mind, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship." From that moment on, every time I retched during pregnancy, I (somewhat sarcastically) told God, "That's my worship for the day. It's all I've got to give." 

The thing is, He met me there. He sustained me, he upheld me, he nurtured me around that toilet. His strength made perfect in the misery of my weakness. And He made something beautiful out of it...a loud, demanding, life-interrupting bundle of unspeakable joy.

He also met me during the struggles with our oldest son that I wrote about here

These children have taught me that He is faithful. 

They've also taught me that life is fluid. 

My sister tells the story of sitting on the couch, wearing her husband's pajamas, covered in spit-up while nursing her newborn and watching morning talk-shows, thinking, "So this is my life." As that baby is now in her twenties, my sister has the perspective to look back on that with humor, but at the time, she had no way of knowing just how fleeting those moments would be.

All moments in life are temporary. Those that cause immeasurable pain, as well as those that bring us to unbelievable heights, will pass. They may change us in the process, but they, too shall come to pass. 

I remember well when my two older boys were five-months-old and two-years-old. Shawn worked second shift everyday, leaving me alone to do bedtime. Zak, the youngest of the two, would only go to sleep while nursing, so I would put ten-year-old Michaela in charge of Ben while I nursed the baby to sleep. When Zak was sound asleep, I would read Ben a story, pray for him, and tuck him in. Every night, when I walked out of his room, he would scream and cry and race down the hallway after me...and wake up Zak. Every. blasted. night.

I tried reversing the order and that was a disaster. I tried laying in bed with Ben until he fell asleep only he'd wake as soon as I stirred (plus, I still had the girls - aged ten, seven, and three - to supervise.) I felt like a huge failure and was unbelievably frustrated and exhausted. I begged God to give me wisdom, almost demanding that he solve the problem for me. 

"It's just a season," was His almost audible response. 

I just needed to ride it out. It would pass. I wasn't a terrible mother just because there was some chaos. There really wasn't a good way to make it work, given the circumstances. Of course, it did pass. Now, at 7 and 5, I can pray for them, kiss them, and send them on their merry way to bed! Bliss. 

I love that God's plan is individual. Without having experienced all that we have with this big family, we wouldn't have the faith to take a leap and experience the miracle of adoption. Adding in another to an already large brood isn't really that big of a deal.

I am in awe of families who choose to adopt without having to prove God first. They are obeying on faith, alone. They take Him at His Word and they will find Him faithful. They are the true heroes of the faith. 

1 comment: