today is the first day of november. it never crossed my mind when we started this journey on february 14 of this year that we wouldn't be approved to be a waiting family by now. and yet. here we are. still waiting.
that pea pod costume i bought for $4.50 in case we were placed by halloween? still hanging in the nursery closet, unused. bina used her cupcake costume multiple times. she wore it to church sunday and after for the fall festival.
she wore it to bible study fellowship tuesday and for the rest of the day.
i did my best not to think of that little unused pea pod costume yesterday. it makes my heart hurt to do so. but it's ok to think of it and be sad. a little nod to my unmet expectations.
i had a really sweet day with bina on monday. we played at ward church's play place with friends, two little girls who are about the same age as bina. they were adorable together.
we had a nice evening as a family after david got home. i cherish days like that. sometimes it feels like they are few and far between. but i want to work towards more of them. it takes intentionality. hard work. and a whole lotta grace. also, when a toddler is in the mix, you just never know what the day might bring. and with my two dogs. yeah. i have two "seniors" now, and they are both eternal puppies, i think. today bella chewed on our TV stand to get a tupperware container out from under it. she failed. the TV stand suffered the consequences. so. i cherish the sweet days when the stars align and everyone cooperates and i have enough grace to keep my cool all day long. only through jesus and the grace of god.
a friend sent me a screenshot of a page of the book daring to hope this morning. the part that spoke most to me was this: "maybe we are not called to alleviate suffering (as i had once imagined) as much as we are called to enter into the suffering of others and walk with them through it."
later i read a blog post by laura kelley on her grief journey of mourning their son who passed earlier this year. she echoed the sentiment of that sentence in the book with this line: "...really doing grief with someone is not disappearing, it’s not avoiding the hard or awkward conversations because it makes you feel weird or uncomfortable. instead it’s choosing to be with those who are hurting from loss or trauma or pain. it’s choosing to see them, acknowledge them and really walking with them on the long road they have ahead."
romans 12:15 instructs us to "mourn with those who mourn." it doesn't say "offer platitudes," or "hurry the mourning along in their grief," or "tell them how lucky they are not to be in the position of x person who is way worse off." just sit in it. with them. mourn with those who mourn.
i think i'll always remember what one of our church members said one sunday talking about grief as i was working my way through insomnia, anxiety, and depression: show up and be yourself in your weakness. grief takes it out of us. mourning is exhausting. can't we just stop? can't it just all go away? can't it just get better faster? no. there is no other way but through it to find healing. show up in your weakness and keep putting one foot in front of the other.
my bible study fellowship (bsf) lesson notes this week gave four characteristics of abraham's faith that show us what true faith looks like. one of them is faith "regardless of circumstances." romans 4:18 states, "against all hope, abraham in hope believed." god promised abraham some big things, one of which was to be the father of many nations. and as a 100 year old childless man, that seemed physically impossible. but abraham served a big god who keeps his promises. so, against all hope, abraham believed. and he bore children in his old age, when he was "as good as dead" and his wife's womb was "also dead" (romans 4:19). my god. my god who makes the impossible, reality. may i fix my eyes on him, trusting in him alone.
what i am mourning is unmet expectations. last summer/fall i began my struggle with insomnia, anxiety, and depression. i had expected to do so well after handling the stress of being a working and pumping mama, selling our house in austin, buying our house in michigan, and moving from austin to michigan. and it turned out that when things finally calmed down, that's when i broke. i learned later that's typical, to break once things settle and not in the midst of difficult times.
i thought we would quickly get pregnant again after getting off birth control last july. we didn't. i thought the adoption process would go as fast as i could complete my paperwork. it didn't. i thought i would be pumping for as little as a month in preparation for a baby. i pumped three. and then quit. i thought we would be placed with a baby by now. we aren't. my expectation of being able to achieve the "perfect" spacing of children, as the months go by and bina grows farther and farther away from two and closer and closer to three. so many other unmet expectations that don't have anything to do with family planning, some i didn't even realize i had in the first place until they weren't met. it kind of makes me want to throw a tantrum sometimes. aren't we all really just toddlers at heart? it's too hard to emotionally process what i'm feeling and put it into coherent words. can't i just throw my toys across the room, fall to the ground, and cry? i think that might feel better.
speaking of david in the bible, my bsf lesson notes state "mere forgiveness is not enough. sin must be dealt with or punished. god covers the sins of those who trust him... although undeserved guilt can be harmful, failing to feel deserved guilt can be more harmful... not until david confessed his sin was he freed from his terrible guilt... only then could david call himself blessed." this really spoke to me. so often we just want to escape our feelings. they're bad! right? no. they're feelings. sometimes when we seek to just escape them (or just deny they exist at all), instead of sitting in the discomfort, we rob ourselves of the ability to truly process and move forward. refusing to acknowledge them doesn't make them go away. it just shoves them down until they rear their head at some point in the future. and again, and again, and again -- if we don't feel them and process them. david confessed his sin and was freed from guilt. he spoke his sin. he repented, declaring that he recognized the evil in his ways and was sorry for it. the consequences of his sin didn't go away, but his debt was paid. pain and suffering are part of this life. sometimes as a direct result of sin, as in the case of david. sometimes just because we live in a broken world. but always that god might show his glory through us and our circumstances.
so i ask myself. how might god be working his good purposes in my waiting? we're coming up on nine months of waiting now. almost a full pregnancy's worth. waiting is refining. it has opened my eyes to the journeys of others. how do people do this? how do people do this more than once? how do people do this with small agencies, or internationally? the uncertainty i feel must be magnified ten-fold. and me, i have a daughter by birth. there are couples that are unable to conceive, and then begin more waiting in this adoption journey. and in the end, they may go through a failed adoption and be back to waiting some more.
god have mercy. the unmet expectations pile up as high as a mountain. the pain, suffering, disappointment, uncertainty. and what must it be like to be on the other side of this equation, pregnant and considering that i am unable to raise this baby? thinking about the reality of growing a baby in my body, from my body, for nine months and being willing to separate that baby from my body and place it into the hands of another? so much uncertainty. so much pain. so much suffering. grief. we cannot escape it. we sit in it, together. mourning with those who mourn.
and so we wait some more. november 1 today, november 2 tomorrow. i don't know what the future holds, but i know who holds the future. and it is ok when i feel the weight of uncertainty, the weight of unmet expectations, the weight of disappointment. it is natural. it is human. and much better for me to practice processing my emotions now so that i can be better equipped to process them more in the future, possibly with a new tiny human grafted into the fabric of our family.