Thursday, August 2, 2018

Behind the Picket Fence

She stood there, cautiously baring her heart to me. Her words said to me that she thought I had it together. She thinks I know what the heck I’m doing every day when I wake up and all the things from near and far are calling my name. 

Instantly my mind went back to a few days ago when I found myself weeping uncontrollably under the covers and pillows on my bed, my bedroom door locked to the demands of my kids, and my heart physically aching in my chest because I miss my jungle family so much and the loneliness is sometimes too much for me to stand under, so I cave. 

Turns out, I’m human like the rest of ‘em.

My house has a white picket fence. It’s quintessential irony calls to me every day when I check the mail or take out the trash or mow the lawn in the monotonous day to day. 


I gave this all up once, you know. Willingly. Joyfully. I turned it all in for a life overseas. All that I had been called to became my reality. 

And then Jesus said, suddenly and unexpectedly, it was time to sacrifice a different way. 

It was the harder to say yes that time. 

Now I find myself at Walmart and still, two years back on this side of the border, I fight another anxiety attack because the aisles seem so long and toilet paper options seem like a task of decision making prowess that I’m just not equipped for. 

But those are not the photos we put on social media are they? Of our struggle to reconcile broken dreams with the beautiful life given. Of not being able to relate or not being understood because suddenly you are thousands of miles from everyone who knows you best. 

I never post an instastory of me losing it with my daughter because the lies seem insurmountable and never ending and five years into this confusing and refining role of adoptive mom to a child with a hurtful past, I still feel as lost as ever many (most?) days. And there are harsh words and apologies and lies followed by truth revealed and lessons learned for both of us. Tears and hugs and another step forward after two steps back. 

It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do to face myself in this mirror of adoption. And it’s a lonely road when others just don’t get it. 

And I have never snapped a selfie when I’m crying on the bathroom floor, shoulders slumped because I feel so inadequate and useless under the weight of raising awareness for the many tangible needs of our jungle family. I struggle to find the balance of here-meets-there, where kids are being abused on every corner and we need funds to reach them but also laundry is piling up and my own kids need me to teach them math and reading and how to tie their shoes.

These just scratch the surface of the social-media “non-worthy” items. 

All the while Jesus whispers to me every day, “Cease from striving.” I can almost hear it as though it were an audible voice calling to me. 

And I don’t know yet what it looks like to live that out. 

So I wake up early and lean in hard. I physically open my hands, achy heart and shaky knees, and ask Jesus to show me He is real here, too, in what feels like lonely loss. He wasn’t only real back when I thought I knew His plans for my life. My preconceived and naive ideas of who He is and what He has called me to isn’t enough. He is bigger and better and His ways are true and good. 

My calling is not to know all the things. It is to trust Him. To look to Him alone.

Even when I feel lost and inadequate. Even when I see another Facebook post that reminds me I’m here and not there or this way and not that. 

I shut out the voices that can't see my heart and I trust the One who can.

It still leaves me breathless in tears many days. It’s ok to grieve what was lost (or perhaps just reassigned). 

Most days, I choose to run back into hope and gratefulness. And you see it. 

Other days, I collapse in sadness, fear, doubt. And you don’t. 

So when I post a photo on Instagram and it appears that I’m living a perfect life, remember it’s my highlight reel. There is a behind the scenes, too.

But instead of focusing on all that feels taken, I focus on what is given. 

Rather than honing in on what makes my heart ache inside my chest, I hone in on what makes my soul glad. 

In place of what appears to have been lost, I look for what I know to be found. 

Because wouldn’t you know it, that adorable white picket fence doesn’t close properly. You have to lift it up and pull it ever so particularly for it to shut all the way. Life’s like that, too. No matter what it may look like on the outside, it’s always harder and more finicky than you think it should be. 

Don’t believe the lie that says anyone has it all together. They don’t. You don’t. I don’t. We are all just humans with struggles. 

And really, if you think about it, that’s good news... because it is precisely why we all need Jesus.
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