More than a month has passed since I’ve last been able to visit this blog, and honestly, on more than one occasion, the title of any post would have been “Dear 2014: You Still Suck.”
But I can’t even say “suck” anymore because my now three-year-old repeats everything, and she’s absconded with some of the most necessary members of my lexicon. Happy euphemisms be … darned? Just doesn’t have the same ring, does it?
I’ve longed to write…to pour forth the mess like a jumble of puzzle pieces and start sorting through to find the edges. I ache to move the colors and shapes around into piles until they begin to form something recognizable.
As a blogger, I try not to shy away from the ugly realities of life, but as a foster and adoptive mom, my own reality is often so intertwined with another’s that it’s difficult to tell where my story ends and my child’s begins. Most heartache isn’t fully mine to share.
Over the past few weeks, there has been pain, worry, and jumbled pieces. I can’t yet make out the image. I can’t wrap up our story in some nice little bow with a Hallmark-approved ending.
We’re in the middle of the story, and it’s messy, exhausting, complicated, confusing, and hard. Sometimes, middles just, ahem, you know the word.
But God whispers that He is in the middle with us, and that the story isn’t over yet.
Last weekend, I attended Created for Care, an adoptive moms’ retreat outside of Atlanta, and the speaker Beth Guckenberger, reminded us that our stories don’t require the “happily ever after” before they’re worthy of sharing. Testimonies “in-process” are just as meaningful as those who have found the Disney ending. God is not finished, and there is beauty in the journey.
In her first words to us, Beth read Matthew 11:28-30 from The Message:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace….”
And all the mamas said amen!
Created for Care reminded me that God is in the business of “extracting the precious from the worthless.” Order from chaos. Light from darkness. Joy does come in the morning.
It comes in reuniting with old friends as we fight off sleep for one more minute of real conversation.
It comes in the raw honesty of amazing new friends trusting one another with their own stories.
It comes in healing laughter at the antics of tireless and creative women strapping glow lights to their bodies for the evolution of dance. It comes in some early 90s music encouraging us to “Hold on for one more day…” It comes in blackout curtains allowing sleep until 8:15! It comes in some rockin’ new t-shirts.
It comes in the openness of women navigating their own “middles” and their willingness to share lessons learned along the way. It comes in the tears of 450 mothers, parenting more than 1500 children, joined in song, prayer, and worship.
Of course, Sunday night, we all had to return home, and we found ourselves once again firmly planted in the mess. Our happy hearts and encouraged souls were greeted with dripping noses, spilled juice, crushed crackers, unfinished coffee, misplaced shoes, dirty dishes, and a toddler determined to teach the cat to fly by hurling it off the stairs.
Or something like that.
Many moms returned home to kids still in hard places. They returned to minds still traumatized. Bodies still suffering. Hearts still broken.
And because we are their mamas, we must dive into those hard places with them. But we are not alone.
So ladies, my prayer this week is that as we all return to the middle of our messes, we remember that God is there with us. I pray that we make strong connections and find comfort in knowing that hundreds of sisters walk this road with us. I pray that we find strength to be more open and honest with one another in the scary parts of our journeys. And most of all, I pray that we all fervently seek God as we work toward bringing His kingdom, His perfect shalom, to this earth.