To the Weary Momma

*This was written to one of my dear friends. I was going to write this just to her, but the truths are needed for most parents who are in the trenches, so I made some details more generic for the sake of the blog and sharing with all of you.

My sweet, weary friend,

You opened up yesterday about how you’ve been feeling like you’re failing as a wife, failing as a mother, and failing as a friend since your family changed a few months ago. I woke up this morning feeling the weight of your words, crying out to Jesus for you, and I hope to build you up with this letter.

Love feels like failure. Real love isn’t the yummy feelings we have toward our husbands, though that can certainly be a side effect. Real love gives up the things we once loved for the sake of others. We work our whole lives toward something we dreamed would bring us joy. It might be a brochure-worthy family who is peaceful, happy, and together. It might be a job. It might be a creative endeavor. It might be a financial status. It might be respect from others. Then an opportunity to love comes along, and the only way to do it well is to give up our dreams. It feels like a part of us has to die, and the grief is fierce.

It must have felt that way 2,000 years ago, too. Jesus wanted to be with his Daddy. But for the sake of love for his father and his people, he became the biggest failure ever in the eyes of those around him. That fool died for the ones who hated him. He had a good thing going for him, too, with fame and followers. And he gave it all up for love. All the people watching laughed or shook their heads in disappointment or mocked him. They thought he’d actually be something in this life, but instead he died the most humiliating death of all, just a nobody.

But that was only the earthly perspective. In heaven there was a much different scene taking place. They knew what that death meant. They knew it meant victory, not failure. And there was a party as the serpent got his head crushed. His “failure” was the very thing that exalted him to the highest place, and it made failure impossible for you.

You have a picture in your head of love. It’s been shaped by society, articles, magazines, things your friends say. Probably even things I say. But our definition of love is so small. God wants much more for us.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:5-11)

I watch you almost every day, and you’re my hero. I see how hard everything is, and I see you continue to fight the fight. I see you take time out for every kid and adult around you, often overwhelmed but always dropping what you’re doing for their sake, especially when you don’t feel like it. I see you pour into your family, doing the mundane day after day. I hear the hours of conversations you have about your children, trying to make the most faithful decisions for them. I see how passionate you are for justice for your friends, and how you can’t just sit and do nothing. I see how weary you are. And it’s pretty much the best view I have.

The most beautiful sunset doesn’t even compare.

But you don’t see yourself that way. You focus on the details that show you in the worst light while the deceiver whispers in your ear, distorting and inflating those details. You’re tempted to see the moments instead of the full picture. You get weighed down with how hard everything is, and you see all that as failure.

You forget that when you sin, when you get selfish, when you choose the wrong thing, when everything comes crashing down, that’s exactly where God meets you. He wants you where you can’t rely on your own strength. He wants you to be reminded you can’t fail, not because you’ve been a good wife, mom, and friend, but because of the One who lives in you. You’re now a success no matter what because he himself is your new identity, and his earthly “failures” are eternal glory.

Even as you read this, I’m sure you’re still not seeing yourself rightly. None of us ever do. We’re at war with the spiritual forces of evil, and it’s hard to block all his flaming arrows. As we stand side by side in this battle, this letter is my attempt to help pick you up to get you safely behind your shield again, as you have done for me countless times. Praise God we don’t fight this battle alone!

Your sacrifice here on this earth, your mundane tasks, the decisions you have to constantly make, the dreams you’ve given up–they all point me, your children, your husband, your friends, your neighbors, your church, the people at the grocery store, to the Savior. It feels so small, so insignificant, so pointless. But it shines God’s glory far brighter than any humanly thing we could do. It makes you the most successful wife, mom, and friend in the world. A success based on your weakness but his strength. And your kids get front row tickets to it every day. How blessed they are!!!

I long for the final day with you. You’ll enter the presence of Jesus to hear him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” And you’ll hear cheering from the rest of us as we agree and laugh in joy. And your family will be in the front cheering loudest of all.

Come, weary saints, though tired and weak
Your strength will return by His quiet streams

Come, wandering souls, and find your home
He offers the rest that you yearn to know

Come, guilty ones weighed down with sin
The freedom you long for is found in Him

Come, hopeless hearts, do not despair

For ten thousand joys await you there

Hear Him calling your name
See the depths of His love
In the wounds of His grace
Hide away in the love of Jesus


What About “Those” Kids?

Rules, rules, rules. So many rules in this world. Some good, some bad. Some God-given, some man-made. They’re everywhere, including in the adoption world.

I’m sure you’ve heard many of them. Don’t adopt out of birth order: it might confuse the children already in your home. Don’t adopt older kids especially: it’s too easy for them to overpower your younger kids. And don’t ever, EVER, bring a child in your home who has had any kind of sexual abuse if you have other children: because gaaaaaah!!

I truly understand the rules from the world’s view. They all make total sense. From a biblical view, though, I can’t make heads or tails of it.

We’re called to father (or mother) the fatherless (or motherless). And just like other parts of Scripture where we’re called to love our enemies or become all things for ALL people or take the word to the nations, there aren’t “buts” after those commands. So it doesn’t say “father the fatherless, but not if they’re older than your kids or a little too broken.”

This is a tough topic. I know it. I especially know it because we had to deal with all the questions in our last adoption. And we ultimately decided to break all the “rules.”

It scared the crap out of me. And that fear is still there in my heart daily.

But it scares me because I’m a faithless child. I think my children’s future somehow has something to do with me. I wait for God to curse me when I do something like this, listening to whispers that I somehow tested him. And it will all be my fault because I acted as a fool!

But then I remember there are no “buts.” And I know this was the door opened for us, the one God designed before the foundation of the world. And contrary to God cursing us, not opening the door would have meant many blessings we would have missed.

I look at my child, at the haunted looks she still has in her eyes, and sometimes, if I look closely enough, I see a spark of life break through. I see her do something kind for a sibling or run to help with something. I see the love she and all her siblings have for each other, how the family feels incomplete if one isn’t there.

I see her grow in her understanding of who Jesus is. A little girl scared of monsters in the beginning, telling us God isn’t big enough to make them go away, seeing more each day that God already defeated the biggest monster there will ever be. And even while she’s still rejecting that Jesus in her heart, I know she’s seeing him in bigger and more real ways than she ever was before.

And I think about what her life might have been. Don’t mis-hear. WE are failing all the freaking time. She’s not blessed because she now has rock star parents. She’s blessed because she’s where God intends her to be. Maybe she would have been in a better home if we hadn’t said yes. But maybe she wouldn’t be. Maybe she’d still be in the system and no one would want her. I’ll never know the maybes. I only know I was supposed to say “yes.”

And I don’t know how to say “no” to one child’s soul for the sake of some possible future physical “safety” issue of my other children. I don’t know how to confidently make a future prediction that my children will turn out in any way no matter the decisions we make here. There are the Josh Duggars who were “raised right and safely,” and there are those who experienced unbelievable tragedies who have beautiful stories of redemption. Sometimes we dress up pragmatism and call it wisdom when it’s really just fear and faithlessness.

Have things changed for us? Absolutely. I have a much more keen eye. I have fewer freedoms. We have the “yell and tell” conversation more often than most families. We have “safeties” in place. We have some rules set up in our home that most families wouldn’t probably have.

And we’re also growing to understand we just can’t control every single thing. That’s still the hardest lesson for me, and I hope to say yes over and over to keep learning it. A life I control less suddenly makes God way bigger in my eyes. I get to watch him be sovereign over my family. I get to see him as a good God who loves and protects all my children way better than I can. I get to see there are things more important than physical safety. I get a bigger faith.

It’s important to say that there’s no intent here to say every single person should say yes to every single child coming into their home. We’re not there yet either! My challenge for you (and me!) is to simply have a bigger faith, to get out of your comfort zone, and to trust God’s design.

Here are all the posts in our adoption series:

  1. Getting Real About Adoption
  2. Loving the Unlovable
  3. Sin in the Adopted Child
  4. Support for the Adoptive Parent
  5. Broken-Hearted Parents
  6. Some Clarifying Thoughts on Our Adoption
  7. Examining Adoption Resources (reviewing The Connected Child, Pt 1)
  8. Normal and Healthy? (reviewing The Connected Child, Pt 2)
  9. A Matter of Foundations (reviewing The Connected Child, Pt 3)
  10. The Sins of Neurology  (reviewing The Connected Child, Pt 4)
  11. Idol Swapping  (reviewing The Connected Child, Pt 5)
  12. Setting the Course  (reviewing The Connected Child, Pt 6)
  13. Another Way Forward (reviewing The Connected Child, Pt 7)
  14. The Therapy Our Children Need
  15. Who Are You Calling Normal?
  16. Optional Adoption
  17. How to Adopt for Almost Free (And No Fundraising!)
  18. What About “Those” Kids?
  19. Trying to Make Them Lovable