Last week I had my “welcome to Holland” moment. I have been living here for months, but my emotions finally caught up and I was broken. It hit me like a wave of truth. This is real. I have been coping with our different-than-anticipated life for some time. Years, actually. This latest twist has been challenging but manageable, I thought. We have a good routine (truly). Yet, it’s hard — both physically and mentally.
You don’t have to be a parent of a child with disabilities to know what I’m talking about. It’s the human experience to find ourselves in foreign territory.
Dan Allender calls these “moments of unnaming”:
But the story we are to live and write doesn’t truly begin until we face what we have lost and then turn to see the horizon of uncertainty ahead. Our story will gain momentum and depth only to the degree that we honestly embrace both loss and fear. … If we enter our story’s heartache, we will hear the whisper of the name that will one day be ours. Because we live in a fallen world, we will encounter abandonment, betrayal, and shame. These experiences are inevitable, but they also provide the context necessary for coming to grips with how we will live our lives. In the midst of affliction, we become either our truest or our most false self.
In those moments of unnaming, when we have lost ourselves, we must remember to return to our past redemptions to find God’s marks of glory on our abandonment, betrayal, and shame. We wrongly believe that we will be happy if we can escape the past. But without our past are hollow and plastic beings who have only common names and conventional stories. When we enter into our story at the point we lost our name, we are most likely to hear the whisper of our new name. Remember, God is still writing.
We have often been witnesses to God’s mighty hand this last year. I wish we could share more specifics but, in His sovereignty, God knew that being foster parents would isolate us. We simply cannot talk about a BIG part of our lives. That is a burden that I have a hard time carrying.
Moreover, now with a medically complex child, we have decided to set up to more barriers. (We have to keep him healthy the next six months, in particular.) Walls may help prevent exposure to sickness, but they are also confining. For me, I felt trapped this week: no sunrise coming over the wall. Just a long, lonely winter ahead.
I had to mourn that shattering of shalom. Again, Allender reminded me that “tragedy always moves our story forward in a way that shalom could never accomplish.”
What grace! Just when I started to think I understood that my life isn’t my own, God took me deeper. Showing me more of my own weakness. Showing me His power.
This is His work of conforming me into His likeness. I am a new creation, yet I am continually being renewed. I don’t need to see everything to get there. He is the Author and Sustainer.
I need more of Him.
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Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio.