“God, it wasn’t supposed to look like this. I obeyed you. I did everything you asked me to. Why are you punishing me? Why would you allow this to be so hard?” I stood in my closet away from the world with tears in my eyes and blatantly expressing anger toward my Heavenly Father. It felt as though my life was in a tailspin and I was spiraling uncontrollably with it. My husband and I were walking through the toughest season of our married life to date. I trudged through each day, completely exhausted from the countless nights of unrest. My emotions were numb. I was in survival mode. I had become a shell of the person I once was. That person was happy, joyful, friendly, eager to serve others – or so I thought.
On the outside our lives looked really pretty and put together. We had a wonderful marriage, a beautiful home, family and friends who loved us and plenty of opportunities ahead of us.
On the inside, I was crumbling.
Rewind to 2012. My husband, Corey, and I were driving home from a long weekend in his family’s hometown. My amazing in-laws had blessed us by keeping our two boys for a few days so that we could enjoy some quiet time at home together. It was just after New Year’s Day and life was comfortable. I still remember the exact place on the road where I first heard God speak to my heart. “You’re going to adopt”, He said as plain as day. I knew absolutely nothing about the adoption process, the reality behind the difficulties surrounding it or the brokenness it represented. I pictured the idea through rose colored glasses with a Hallmark movie happy ending, and if I’m totally honest, a look-at-me savior complex.
I immediately shared with my husband what I had just heard God say to me. He had always been open to the idea of adoption, but I had been a little slower to jump on board. This time I didn’t hesitate. I was willing and ready to dive in. That moment of obedience changed the trajectory of my walk with the Lord forever. My Heavenly Father had positioned me to begin to experience some of the most challenging days of my life. Now, on this side of the story, I understand how necessary these challenges were for me.
You see, up to that point in my life things were safe and easy. Oh sure, my husband and I had experienced a few little bumps here and there. But overall, my “problems” – if I can even call them that – had been minor inconveniences and simple facts of life. Looking back now, I remember how huge my problems felt and how embarrassingly spiritually immature I was. I was leading worship on Sunday mornings, often times, as a featured soloist, but at home I was yelling at my children and my husband never knew which personality he was coming home to after a long day of work.
I was a loose cannon, triggered by any mess or inconvenience that life presented to me on a daily basis. My anxiety soared with every aspect of life that I could not control, and with that anxiety came unpredictable anger. I loved fiercely but so much of the time I was too fierce and quite unloving to those that meant the most to me. I was like a bad child who needed Jesus to put her in time out. I needed a swift spiritual kick in the pants to get my attention. I had no idea that swift kick would become my story and my ministry.
I don’t want to go back. In the trenches and on the hard days, I admit, I’ve thought about it, but I know every step of this journey has been God’s way of wrecking me. I needed to be wrecked. The “me” before adoption was selfish, spoiled and worshipped the false idols of control and comfort without even knowing it. I was ensnared in the trap of perfectionism and my family suffered the consequences of that trap on a daily basis. By my own sin nature, I am a type A, get-it-done, my-way, enneagram 1 and 8 combo kind of girl, and let’s add the icing to the cake, I’m also an only child. In short, when operating in my flesh, I am a real picnic – yeah, not so much. This is still something that God is patiently working through with me.
As I am writing this, I am reflecting on that day nearly a decade ago that I heard him speak the words to me that would lead to my fleshly undoing. But you see, adoption in of itself is not what wrecked me. Adoption was merely the situation and series of challenges God used to reveal a lack of His likeness in me. If it weren’t for adoption, I would likely have never realized my desperate need for a softer heart, humility, more faith and better display of grace.
I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for loving me enough to force me out of that space I was so heavily rooted in. So unhealthy, so ineffective for the Kingdom. He loves each of us in this way, you see, but often times we fight Him and cast blame for the discomfort we feel.
Adoption has wrecked me in a beautiful way. Some of you might relate. For others, God has used something entirely different in your life to lovingly wreck you. That seems like an oxymoron, I know, but while the wrecking of your flesh and sinful ways is miserable, it is also one of the greatest gifts God can ever give us on this earth.
What I have come to understand is that we have to be willing to receive the lessons God gives us through the “hard” things we experience. These lessons are an opportunity for us to choose to take another step closer in our journey toward Christ-likeness. Though it may seem quite the opposite, the challenges we face are evidence of His love and nothing less.
Perhaps you are like me and you have spent a season of your spiritual walk hating and resenting the discomfort or uncertainty God is allowing. Are you falling prey to the enemy’s lie that difficult circumstances mean that God isn’t present, or He is out to punish you? I am sometimes guilty of falling into the lie that challenges and difficulties are God’s way of saying, “This is not the way.” “Resistance must mean it’s wrong.” It’s not just me, right?
But here’s what I’m slowly learning: where there is much resistance, there is opportunity for both growth and a revealing of God’s heart and mindset.
Whatever difficulty you experience and whatever challenge you face, I pray you know that this post is meant to encourage you, dear friend, to, perhaps for the first time, understand that the challenges and heartbreak we experience are not wasted if we shift our focus toward God and the opportunity He is giving us to grow. Be careful though, that you don’t narrow your focus solely on yourself. God’s ultimate purpose for us is to display His love and to be willing vessels that carry His message of hope and forgiveness to those who have yet to hear and believe. He is writing an incredible story and we are so blessed as His image bearers to be able to take part in that story.
Now, if you’ve stuck with me to the end of this post and thought to yourself:
“But you didn’t tell me HOW adoption wrecked you!”
I know, I promise, more of the story is coming. Eight years, multiple adoption processes, thousands of dollars lost, and invaluable life lessons are a bit much to pack into one post.
Stick with me, I’ve got some crazy stories headed your way!