That gnawing feeling in your gut? It has a name.

  
It’s been a year. Quite a year. A long year.

A year since I’ve written much of anything. A year since I’ve blogged. A year since I’ve cared to do either.

I’m one of those writers, who gets something on my mind and it burns a hole in my soul until I get it out and onto paper or a screen, depending on what’s in front of me at the time. I’m also one of those people whose thoughts are often too deep even for me to reach, to access. They linger in me, I mull them over, I think some more, I ponder. Always the pondering. 

During these times I cannot write, I can’t yet make sense of the madness within and without. It’s like eating an elephant in one giant gulp.

After a year, I am just now beginning to put words to the confusion, the pain, and the loss we have experienced and walked through, not just in the past year, but in the years since we set out on the adoption road.

If I could use one word to describe it all, to put my finger on the pulse of the pain, it would be this: GRIEF.

I have become acquainted and accustomed to grief less like an unwanted acquaintance and more like a wise mentor. It has schooled me in more ways than any one life experience has.

Grief comes to each of us differently. For some it comes in unmet needs or expectations. For others it comes through debilitating loss; of someone they loved, a community, a home, a family, their innocence. Still for more it is the loss of a position, a job, or a marriage. 

 And it doesn’t even matter how the loss came, it only matters that it did. And it changed everything.

Adoption begins with loss. Great, grievous, soul-shattering loss. Nothing “makes it better”, not even a forever family. 

When you encounter someone else’s loss, grief, or pain, it reveals your own. 

Now that loss has layers, and therein lies the days of confusion because at most times one or more layers of the loss are in operation in the midst of your daily, get ‘er done life. Add to this that each member of your family is also processing or exercising life in the layers and it is the makings of a messy life. A grieving life. But a good life.

I have learned how to live not day by day, but moment by moment. Where thinking of how to “get through this day”, was just too much to process. Getting through this moment was the best I could do.

The ache in my soul, that has become so familiar is Grief. And it didn’t start with adoption. That ache is familiar because I’ve experienced it a lot in life, I just didn’t have a word for it until now. This Grief was unveiled and brought on for us by walking the road less traveled, we call adoption, and it has revealed to me things about myself I didn’t know. It’s shown me many achingly beautiful moments, making my soul deeper and my life richer. 

Now learning to live with Grief has been a puzzling and perplexing existence that I’m still unraveling, but I’m so grateful that Grief has a most amazing companion, 

Joy

In every grief there is a Joy somewhere to be found. Somewhere. But you must look for it, and on some days diggggg for it. But I promise you this, it is there.

Grief has been the best teacher I’ve had, not Joy. However the role I’ve found that Joy plays is to redeem the losses of Grief in some way that breeds hope and peace in an ailing heart.

For me the relationship between Grief and Joy looks something like this:

Grief that my life is so different now. Joy that I feel more alive than I ever have.

Grief that I’m so incapable of being the type of Mom I most desire to be. Present, available, awesome. Joy that my children, through my seeming failures may realize that Mom is not their Savior, she’s just the messenger reminding them that they need one.

Grief that my marriage has been put to the test again and left limping on many days. Joy that I’m married to a man who has taken my hand and stormed the darkness for two little girls who needed the Light.

Grief that my daughters have to carry such large burdens in their young hearts. Joy that they will never carry that burden alone, in an orphanage in China but instead in the midst of a loving family and a Burden-bearing God.

Grief that my bio sons have often had to do without my full attention, my physical presence, my emotional presence, and even some material things, as we’ve added to our family children with emotional and physical needs. Joy that in their life they know what it is to do without in a consumer-culture, what it is to truly live a missional life. Joy to watch them do so with abandon, servant hearts, and a crazy love for their sisters.

Grief I can’t be all that to everyone. Joy that I can finally be set free from the need to please everyone, and learn to set appropriate boundaries. That I can see my desire to please for what it really is sometimes, my need of approval.

Grief that I can’t do what all my friends are doing because my life has restraints due to caring for my girls. Joy that I can get out more today than a year ago and in remembering that this is just a season, it too shall pass.

Grief I can’t be as involved at my church as we are accustom to being. Joy that we ARE the Church to our girls and their needs, and that I can still bring meals to someone, pray for them, encourage them. And Joy that in God’s Kingdom that’s ministry

Grief that sometimes family doesn’t get it or want to, and those who should care the most, seem to care the least. Joy for the family who have stepped in to help, to encourage, or support. And Joy for friends who are like family, caring for us when we are use to caring for others.

Grief for feeling so helpless. Joy in coming to the end of myself and finding its the beginning of my new self, the one who depends on her good Father for everything, 

Grief when it feels like God has abandoned me. Joy when He does the simplest but most profound things to prove me wrong. 

Grief when I can’t fathom the suffering He allows, and allows to befall me and those I love. Joy because in this world I WILL have trouble and He’s the only One who can overcome it, and He’s FOR me. 

Each time, and this is sometimes daily, that the reality of these Griefs settles on me like a dark cloud, threatening to place an unwanted burden on my heart for the day or week or month, I must reach for Him. He’s there, but honestly I have to make the choice to see Him and when I can’t see Him to believe He is there.

Some days I can. Some days I can’t. Either way, He remains unchanged. 

Through all the difficulty, the grief, the sorrows, the victories, the beautiful, the messy, there is one thing that has never, ever changed. 

My good, good Father. He has never left me. Never, not once.

Did I always feel Him near? No. 

Did He always make His presence known to me? No, He didn’t. 

How many times have I screamed at heaven in the past few years just begging for Him to intervene, to change something, someone, me? I was trying to hold onto Him, but all the while I was being held by Him, even when I didn’t sense it or know it. This is a very difficult thing for me to express in words, but it has been Truth for me.
He has never left me. The clouds simply covered the sun for me at times, but still it was up there, shining and that simple scientific fact brought me hope many days. Even the darkness is light to Him and some days that’s all you need to know.

 

Comments

  1. Beautiful, encouraging post. Thank you for sharing your heart. I love how you pointed out that grief and joy come hand in hand, although sometimes you have to really search for the joy.
    The adoption road is long and sometimes seems endless, but God promised sufficient grace for EVERY day! Keep pressing, friend!

    God bless you richly.
    Julie

  2. How very, very beautiful, Amy. You have touched my heart, my dear, in ways that you don’t even know. I have known deep grief and still feel it even after twenty-three years. I’ve gone through many of the “griefs” that you mention . . . and I agree that joy comes right along with grief. You express everything so beautifully, and I want to claim it all for me, too. Is that all right? I love reading whatever you write, you precious young woman!

    • Claim it? Absolutely. You are the first person that made me feel like I could “write”. Your red ink was something I actually looked forward to because I knew it would make me better. I know your griefs have been many and you have inspired me beyond words to move ahead in grief and in joy.

  3. Thank you Amy! I needed these words…grief and joy…allowing myself…sometimes forcing myself….to see the connection…God Bless, Jennie C.

  4. How ironic (and so like God) that you wrote this several months ago, but I so needed it today. ?? Thank you!!

  5. Beautiful, simple weaving of words to express your heart. First time I’ve read your blog; first of many to come. Thank you for sharing your gift.

  6. Marilyn Henderson :

    Your words ring so true in my and my husband’s hearts. Our youngest daughter whom we adopted 16 years ago from China, is presently at CALO in Lake Ozark, MI. Most difficult year but an amazing program and staff. We see so many changes in our daughter and learning to accept our love and her emotions in healthy ways. If anyone wants more info they can contact me.

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