The stressors that introduce themselves during the adoption wait are strange and difficult to adjust to. We have already talked about stress and the ways it manifests in our bodies and minds, but the way we process these stressors has a huge potential to affect the people in our lives as well. Without knowing a thing about adoption, many of our friends and family find themselves walking on a mine field around us, unsure of where it is safe or dangerous to step. Even our own spouses or kids can feel they are walking on egg shells in their own homes, afraid to trigger an emotional reaction that we ourselves may not know how to predict. It is a challenging predicament to be sure.
I cannot speak for all women, but I know my personal tendency is to hyper focus on the tasks that need to be done, create a checklist, and work my tail off to complete it. Often times I feel guilty doing things that are fun or indulgent, always feeling the weight of the coming two trips to Korea we will have to afford, maternity leave, and the many pediatric visits that will come immediately after. While nine more months may seem like a lightyear away, there is money to raise, a nursery to stock, medical bills to save up for, Korean baby food recipes to learn, two international trips to plan, paperwork to file, and personal momma habits to instill. Suddenly nine months doesn’t feel long enough, and my tightly wound-up self is itching for other people, like my husband, to initiate action plans and help bare the load. Meanwhile, Matt is processing these stressors in a different way entirely and wishes his wife would stop nagging and assuming he doesn’t care or isn’t aware of the checklists I’ve created.
I don’t believe this is a struggle faced by adoptive parents alone. Matt and I have known we process stress differently since before we were engaged, but each new challenge certainly rears new ugly heads which take time to adjust to. I have come to learn that while Matt is very extraverted, he is still an internal processor and has quite a bit going on in his mind at any time. Add a little ADHD to the mix and you start to see a sporadic pattern of thoughts that make it difficult for me to follow which leads me to distrust that he is in fact thinking about and preparing for Desi at all. When I step back and analyze it objectively in this way, it is so obvious that my concerns are due entirely to misconception. The burdens we are facing are equally shared, yet addressed differently, which can often lead to a feeling of disunity.
As I’m sure you may have shared at least a few moments of similar tensions with your spouse, especially in this hectic world of adoption, I’d like to share a couple of examples from scripture to encourage you. While I do not always find myself to be as hotheaded or as sharp-tongued as Peter, I often read accounts in the New Testament that make me cringe, thinking, “That sounds like something I would have done/said.” On more than one occasion Peter had a heart to fix things that were not his to fix, and his passion and desire to do so ended in some pretty intense corrections from Jesus. One of these famous examples is when Jesus exposes the fact that he is about to be taken and crucified in Matthew 16. Peter responds by basically saying, “Over my dead body! I won’t let this happen to you!” Jesus turns to him the all too shocking phrase, “Get behind me Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s” (Matthew 16:23).
Well that was harsh.
Peter, like so many of us, is a fixer. He sees a problem and he goes into hyper drive, often saying or doing the first thing that comes to his mind, and quickly getting chastised for it. Another example in John 18 describes the heartbreaking moment that the soldiers came to arrest Jesus. Peter, in an attempt to defend and protect his Lord and friend, “drew a sword and slashed off the ear of the high priest’s slave” (John 18:10). Jesus turns to Peter and commands him to put his sword away with the question, “Shall I not drink the cup of suffering the Father has given me?” This is yet again another example of how Peter wanted to fix what he could not, and by taking matters into his own hands, was actually getting in the way of God’s eternal plan to die on a cross to save Peter and all of mankind. If you were to read the book of Acts, you would see a series of occasions where Peter accuses other church leaders of not loving Jesus and causing quite a bit of tension in the church body. Much of this tension was warranted and even called for, of course, but there are specific moments where he doubts the sincerity of other believers, feeling that he himself to be more loyal than the rest.
Does this sound familiar?
While the two reactions of Jesus to Peter seemed a bit harsh at first glance, I love that as you read about Jesus’s time with Peter, it is so apparent that Jesus loves and knows exactly what Peter wants, how he functions, how he reacts, and exactly what he needs to hear. Jesus chose Peter to be the rock upon which he would build his great church, and Peter would go on to be a monumental force in the early church. I also like to think that Jesus left him with a group of fellow disciples, particularly John, who would help temper his reactiveness and help him express not just God’s passion, but God’s heart and mercy as well. As we look into our own circumstances, we need to realize that while there are many strengths we possess as fixers, sometimes we are trying to fix what our human eyes can see rather than what God’s eyes see. Sometimes, before we paint our living rooms with chalkboard paint to create a larger checklist, we should instead put our feet on the brakes and ask for God’s insight in the situation. Perhaps we are being called to wait when we want so badly to go. In the case of our spouses, perhaps the disunity we see is only perceived, rather than realized, and God has specifically paired us with our John to help temper our fix-it passions with a more patient and merciful perspective.
I encourage you to read more about Peter’s encounters with Jesus, as it may help you perceive your situation with fresh eyes. Yes, we have a bajillion things on our plates that are always screaming for our attention. I mean, these are our kids we are talking about! Of course the stakes are high! But I like to think back and remember that there was perhaps no tenser moment in history than the night Peter had to watch his Messiah arrested and taken away from him, and Jesus looked directly into Peter’s eyes and said, “Wait. You’re missing the big picture. This isn’t for you to fix. Trust me. I am going to save you. Stand down.”
Stand down. That epic moment in history was not just for Peter. It was for you, me, and the kids we are fighting so hard to bring home. Perhaps this is the message God wants you to hear this morning. It is certainly what he is telling me. Stand down. Wait for it. Trust him. God loves our kids enough to bring his plan to fruition even if we decided to slack off. Rather than using our passions to get things done as a source of disunity with our spouses and families, let’s use it as a means of working in God’s plan rather than ours, and fight to bring these sweet babies into homes of unity.
Verses to Consider:
Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord. –PSALM 27:14
Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until He is gracious to us. –PSALM 123:2
Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. –JAMES 5:7-8
“It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him. –DANIEL 2:2
The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. –ACTS 1:7
A Prayer for Your Day:
Lord, you know that everything I do in this adoption is for you and for [child’s name], but I’m sure many of the methods I have tried to serve you have gotten in the way rather than helped. I want so badly to fix what I can, which seems to be so little, that I often grab the reins out of your hands and out of the hands of [spouse’s name]. I do not want to get in the way of your plans, and I do not mean to act like I know how this adoption will play out. In faith I am handing over the reins to you this morning. I am stepping aside. I am standing down. God I pray that if there is anything you call me to in this adoption that you would be clear in the time, method, and purpose so that I can walk alongside you and learn from you. Help me to grow in wisdom and in knowledge (Eph. 1:17). Let me take your yoke on my shoulders so that I might learn to be humble and gentle in spirit like you are (Matt. 11:29). Let me rest in the assurance that you will call me to move quickly and boldly when the time is right. Until then, give me peace and the ability to live in unity with those you have surrounded me with to bring this adoption to completion.
In Jesus’s name,