Last night, I couldn't sleep. I was tired, but my mind was racing. I looked over the top of my sleeping husband and stared at the clock. 1:14 am. I decided to get up and move to the couch, thinking that a change of scenery would help me calm down. It didn't.
I think that there are certain times in a person's life where their faith comes to a precipice. Mine has been building for nearly two years. I don't think that adoption and religion always have to go hand in hand. After all, people from all faiths and no faith adopt children all the time and it is a good thing! But for me, the whole thing was very spiritual. In fact, I've never felt more in the center of God's will for my life that while we were going through the adoption process. That whole process was the first time in my adult life that I had absolutely no control over what would happen. I had a child that lived halfway around the world that I'd never held or even seen. And I was completely powerless to even make sure that he had enough to eat. I couldn't be there to make sure that when he was sick that he got the medicine that he needed. In fact, I wasn't even sure that he'd still be alive by the time that we got to Congo to get him. A family adopting from the same place had just lost their baby girl due to malaria and it rocked me to my core with the realization of how very little I could orchestrate the addition of this new little one into our family. I find that for most of us living in our cozy first world lives, there are very few times when we have absolutely no control over a situation and have to rely on God fully to work it all out for his glory. In fact, this is the only time it's happened to me. I felt like God and I were side by side on that whole journey. It was like we were in constant communion with one another. And then our son came home and I went right back to the old me who has to be the puppet master of all of it who had a bone to pick with God.
After seeing starving, helpless children first hand, I hurled insult after insult at God. It's a good thing that he's a big God and can take it because sometimes I hurled it hard. I felt like Satan tempting Jesus in the wilderness when I would lie in my bed and cry, "If you really are the son of God, why can't you take away the suffering of those innocent children." All those babies. I can still close my eyes and see myself getting out of the taxi in front of the US embassy and being swarmed by street children. All of them hungry. All of them sick. All of them just wanting to matter to someone- anyone. I could have passed out every snack I had in my backpack and every dime in my pocket and it wouldn't have made even the smallest dent. I kept asking God, "Why are there so many of them? And why do so few people care?" I kept going back to that passage in the Bible about how the workers are few. I know that it is in a different context, but I just couldn't understand how so few people could care about starving, dying, lonely children in the world. Lonely. That's what gets to me. The loneliness. No child should ever have to feel alone.
My children were being especially sweet last night. I think that's what got me started down that slippery slope of feeling so small and inadequate. While the big kids were at church, Miles and I sat on the couch and worked on lacing a shoe string through a cardboard cow with holes in it. We were talking about colors and matching. I told him that it was time for bed and he threw his little arms on each side of my face and said, "I wub you, mommy." That doesn't happen very often from him. I put him to bed and gave him an extra hug as I laid him down and covered him up with not one, but two blankets. The big kids came home and after baths and PJ's they were extra snuggly. Noah must have given me dozens of kisses. Sadie was hugging all over her daddy. We put them to bed and within 10 minutes, they both came bounding down the stairs and smothered us with love saying they just needed a few more kisses. I reveled in it for a moment. Then when they went back to their beds, I looked at my husband and wearily said, "There are so many children in the world who will go to bed tonight without any kisses from a mommy and daddy." I checked on them before bed and just stared at their little faces, so peaceful without a care in the world. They were warm in cozy in their beds with more blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals than should be allowed. The injustice of it all sometimes comes crashing down on me. It comes in waves. One wave is full of gratitude for these blessings and the next wave is full of sadness for the children who have none of it. No blankets. No pillows. No one to check on them and make sure they are covered up in the night. No one who cares.
I got in bed and started reading. I finished my book and started praying. I began thinking about individual children I met at the orphanage. I saw their faces. I saw their eyes. I began seeing pictures in my mind of orphans I've seen on the Internet. I started seeing numbers like 163 million and I felt so small against the wall of sadness that is the orphan crisis. I'm never going to be one of those moms who just loves and finds so much joy in the mundane. I'm never going to love doing laundry or clipping little toenails or potty training or those kinds of things that come with being a mom. But I've got a lot of love to give and we've got extra food and a small amount of space left in our little house and I can care for more. I can kiss more. I can hug more. I can love more. But somehow it just seems like it will never be enough. There are always more children. There is always more need. There is never enough food or enough blankets or enough medicine and the workers are few. And it is heavy.
It's times like this that I have to take a step back and re-evaluate. I am forced to look at the decisions that I make in my life that are purely selfish. I like to treat myself to a four dollar cup of coffee every now and then, but I don't need it in the least. I sometimes get lazy for days on end and we eat out because I just can't fathom having to make another meal and clean up another meal though our fridge is full of food. I buy my children more clothes and shoes than they need. We tell ourselves that adopting a fourth child would make it harder to travel or would make it harder for us to save the money to buy a bigger house. When I look at it this way, I disgust myself with my selfish desires. I look at the self centeredness that I choose everyday and I realize that the impact of my decisions keeps one less child from eating and one less child from being able to go to school and one less child from being able to experience a family. Isn't that what life is all about? Making choices? And if you call yourself a Christian, isn't it all about making choices that impact the kindgom? I'm afraid that my choices aren't stacking up to the ones that God would have me make for the children I feel so burdened for. It's never enough. The workers are few.
This is probably one of those posts that I should just leave in draft form. After all, it doesn't solve anything. It is just me struggling with myself and feeling trapped between the desires that God will have for me and the desires that I have for myself. A theologian I am not, but I am a lover of Jesus. I am a Christian who cusses more than I should, has less patience with my children than I should, is driven by desires of the flesh and who has fallen on my face more times than I can count. But I do know a couple of things about God. One is that he has the power to redeem a shmutz like me and the other is that he cares for orphans. I also know that the burden that I have for the fatherless (especially in Congo) is God given. We have that in common- me and God. He chose this for me. He and I can chat about it in the late night hours when I can't sleep because the burden is so heavy. He tells me to do what I can today and wait for instructions for the rest. There is a stirring in my heart and I can't wait to see how He rattles my cage next.
Until then, he tells me to feed his sheep. So for now, I make peanut butter sandwiches for the sheep in my home and I pray for the little lambs that I am missing today over 7,000 miles away.