There are twenty-five days between May 25th and June 20th.
Those days carry some heavy memories for this momma. Because my youngest child was born on May 25th but I didn’t know he existed until June 20th.
In those twenty-five days we had a lot of regular activities. Awana awards banquet, end of the school year, start of the summer. Regular meal times around the table. Regular Sunday mornings at church and a handful of sleepless nights wondering when our yes would come.
We had some hard days in there too. We passed our six-month anniversary mark of starting the adoption process. We presented to a different birth mother during those three weeks who didn’t pick us. If I remember correctly it was no number seven. I wrote a BLOG on June 18th about my hurt and anger towards God. It’s funny to me now knowing I wrote that just two days before the call came that changed our lives forever.
This time of year tends to send me into a time of reflection. I think about how God knew everything about our sweet child before I knew of his existence. I think about my tears after that particular “no” of the birth mother who didn’t choose us, while God knew of the one who would. I remember my concern that I wouldn’t have what it took to walk the road of parenting a child brought to us through adoption. That I wouldn’t be enough. I couldn’t do enough. I look back at those twenty-five days and the days that would shortly follow and see life-long lessons for this frazzled momma.
It’s always easy for me to look back and see God’s hands evident in my life. It’s much harder to take those lessons and apply them looking forward. This year, rather than giving too much thought to I wish I would have known, I’ve tried to concentrate more on what will I do differently now that I do?
Three things I’ve learned…
1) God is sovereign.
I like to think that I’ve always believed and understood this. But God used adoption as a tangible example of it. God is above all things, before all things, behind all things, wraps around all things. He is present everywhere. He is the Alpha and the Omega.
He knew Judah before he was born. As a mother, we pride ourselves in knowing our children better than any other. Yet, He knew everything about Judah’s first three weeks of life. The three weeks I know very little about. In the moments when I was fretting, doubting, crying and angry, He knew. He saw my tears and cared for me while also caring for a child I would soon call my own. How beautiful is that? I believe He does the same thing now. He knows my heart. He sees my hopes, my fears, my failures. He catches my tears, and looks ahead for my children.
Psalm 139:5 says “You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.” I see God evident as he comes behind us and beside us. But do I live my life believing He also goes before us? Do I hold my children loosely knowing God knows their steps before they take them?
These lessons aren’t evident only through adoption.
When Charlotte was an unexpected blessing, she wasn’t unexpected to God. He was not surprised by this. He knew the timing was perfect when I didn’t know how we could afford a baby. But the money was always just enough. It came in the oddest of ways and the provision of God was never more evident in our lives.
When Walker was three months old and hospitalized with bacterial septicemia, God wasn’t scared. I knew too much medical jargon, but God…He knew the outcome. I’m grateful for the protection He granted and how soon we caught the illness.
Life isn’t always rainbows and lemonade. Sometimes it’s just plain hard. And sometimes there’s not a happy ending. Which is why it’s that much more important for me to learn of God’s sovereignty in the process.
I find peace as a mother looking back and seeing God’s hand in all things. But if I’m not careful, I will count it all as coincidence. Which is really a disservice to myself. Because I will go through this life with a weak faith and miss the peace that comes from trusting in a sovereign God. If I can’t trust Him when I do see my version of a happy ending, how will I trust Him when I don’t see it?
So fast forward to present day, how do I apply this now?
Should I stress out over who my kids will get as their teacher next year?
Should I worry about the “right age” for kids to be out of pull ups?
Should I compare milestones of my children to those around us?
Should I read another book about raising a strong-willed child?
Should I wonder what others are thinking about my parenting?
My kids are 2, 4, and 7.
I know it will feel like just a couple of days before I’m considering college cost and fretting about boyfriends and girlfriends and wondering when to set their curfew.
At some point, I need to remember the peace that comes from knowing God is sovereign. It doesn’t mean I get to take a back seat in parenting these precious blessings. But it should remind me that no matter how much I fret or cry…
I can’t determine their future.
I can’t be two places at once.
I can’t go before and come behind.
And as well as I think I know them, someone knows them better.
Only One has the whole world in His hands.
And guess what? He loves my children more than I do.
God’s sovereignty is a daily reminder to take myself off of my mommy throne and return to my Savior’s feet. To daily loosen my grip and ask my children to sit with me by the One who will lead us all. The only one worthy of this job.
2) Will I choose faith over fear?
If God is sovereign, then what am I afraid of?
Fear can be paralyzing. Have you had that moment as a momma?
Looking over the positive pregnancy test.
Watching over your ill child in a hospital bed.
Walking through the unknowns of adoption.
Without sharing too specifically, we had one day after Judah came home that was harder than all the rest. One where I felt like our privacy had been taken. One where I was convinced our safety was gone. And just to be clear, this has nothing to do with Judah’s birth mother or our open adoption.
I curled up in a ball on our bathroom floor. I completely shut down. It’s the only moment in my life where I recall being that paralyzed from fear. I think it’s because a mother’s sense of protection for her entire family is so strong that it brings about strong emotions.
Poor Cody wanted to help so badly. After trying and getting nowhere, he eventually called my friend Sarah over to just sit with me and pray. You know you’ve got a good friend when you don’t have to speak. I do remember asking her at one point “Am I crazy?” I really meant it. I really wanted to know. I think I was just trying to figure out if my reaction was warranted.
Once my voice and thoughts seemed to return to functioning, I remember calling my dear friend and adoption social worker. After letting me talk for who knows how long, she quietly said, “Breanna, you can either live in faith or you can live in fear, but you can’t live in both.”
I wanted to live in fear. I looked at our situation and weighed it out and decided it was worthy of fear. Her words reminded me of all the passages of “do not fear” in the Bible. And for all my recollection, I couldn’t think of a single time where it said, “do not fear unless….” I had added the “unless” to our situation and decided fear was warranted. But she was right.
Once I realized that there was nothing I could do to “fix” the situation, we called some close friends who came and prayed over us and over our home. I’m sad to say that it took me a point of hopelessness and lack of control before depending completely on God.
Why do I do that as a parent? Why do I want all the control and turn to God only when the control is gone? If faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1), why do I lose faith when I can’t see the ending? Is that faith at all?
Sometimes I use my personality as an excuse.
Well I’m just a worrier. I just like to know how things are going to go. It’s just who I am.
I can call it whatever I want. I can cover it up however I’d like. But in parenting and in life, sometimes I have to face the question. Breanna, will you live in fear or live in faith?
I’m still working on that one. And God has been gracious to me in the process.
3) I will fail my children, but God will not.
That sure seems like a negative statement to live by. I will fail my children.
But the further I get into this parenting thing, the more freeing that statement becomes.
You could not have told me that when I was pregnant with Charlotte. No sir. I will not fail.
I will buy all the books. I will listen to classical music while she is in the womb. I won’t even think about caffeine. I will live with allergies because who can really know the safety of this one Zyrtec on my unborn baby.
I will feed her only healthy foods. (Laughs at self.)
She will be a great eater. (Laughs at self again.)
We will establish a relaxing bedtime routine and she will sleep through the night early on. (So. Much. Laughing.)
And by the time Walker comes along, we will have this parenting thing down. I will return to work all day, but still come home with tons of energy ready to play, laugh and cuddle. Then 6:00pm hits and somehow this momma turns into the Dark Night. But hey, some days I rocked that 5:00-6:00pm hour!
Throw an adoption into the mix and I’ll be just as prepared.
More parenting books to read. No big deal.
A lot of waiting. I’m a patient person.
Open adoption. We got this!
If only high expectations, Pinterest boards and book reading were the answers to perfect parenting.
But in reality, I have a picky eater. In reality, bedtime is hard. In reality, adoption was harder. The only spot-on thing in all of this is that I really DO turn into the Dark Night when nighttime comes.
And these aren’t even the big things in life! I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve picked my cell phone over time playing with my children in the back yard. I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve skipped Bible time to make time for TV because mommy is just too tired. And I don’t want to tell you the number of times I’ve had to apologize to my kids for hurting them with mean words and a harsh tone because I just couldn’t deal.
So yeah, it’s freeing to accept that I will fail them. I will fail in the little things that probably don’t really matter. And I will fail them in some big moments too.
And all the more important and exciting reason to point them to a God who will not fail.
Why as a mom do I think that I have to be their savior?
When I try to make myself the sovereign one,
the one who can always be depended on,
the one that won’t fail my kids…
well let’s just say we all end up disappointed.
The more I learn of God’s love, goodness, holiness and forgiveness, the more I realize how bad of a savior I make and how GOOD of a Savior God is.
In giving up this hope of ever being enough, I’m realizing God never intended for me to be. And that through my shortcomings, I can point my children to Jesus. How much more can they learn through my mistakes than the mom who pretends to have it all together?
I look back on those twenty-five days and many of the days surrounding them and smile. Those days where God was holding Judah and myself simultaneously. So much to be learned. There’s so much I want to go back and tell that woman at the beginning of her adoption journey. But I’m no space traveler. I can’t go behind or come before. But I can choose how I live from here moving forward. I can choose to live in faith. I can choose to accept that I’m bound to mess up many times as a parent along the way. And I can focus on the one thing that stands firm. Jesus. I don’t have to be their Savior. I just want to point them to the One who is.