Friday, January 18, 2013

Postcards from Canaan

Maybe you've wondered why I haven't talked much about Ethiopia since we've returned home from meeting our daughter.

I haven't talked much about how when we finally met Bethlehem, the daughter we've prayed for, fought for, killed a dozen trees for, that it was not a youtube moment. I haven't described just how scared she was of us. About how confused her little face looked as we surrounded her. Or how she cried every time I held her and struggled to free herself from my arms. How awkward and unsure I was. About how even though I expected our meeting to go this way, how I knew that this was even a positive reaction for a child in her predicament, how that knowledge didn't make it any easier on my mother heart.

I haven't told you about how relieved I was when the hour was up at our first meeting and we had to go. About how, instead of rejoicing and feeling thankful, I felt withdrawn, underequipped and worried.

I didn't tell you that in Ethiopia, in my bed, as jet lag forbade my sleep, I cried and prayed and realized and confessed, "God! I don't want to actually DO the hard things! I just want to talk about them, I want to blog about them, but I'm not strong enough to actually DO them!"

I haven't shared with you the guilt I've felt about taking her away from all she knows and is content with, and how many times I had to tell myself that if she were not adopted, she would only be allowed to stay where she is for a year or so before she would be transferred to one of the government orphanages.  And how I force myself to recall the disparaging scenes so I can remember that the government orphanages are no place for children.

I haven't told you how the books on attachment I am reading don't encourage me or empower me. They just overwhelm me and scare me to death.

I haven't shared the voice that has whispered accusingly in my ear every day since December, "You just totally blew that conversation with your kid. Why did you think you were good enough to have more?" "If you yell like that when Bethie is here, it will ruin her. You're going to ruin her. What are you doing? Leave the adoption stuff to the good moms who never get mad at their kids."  "You can't handle this. She deserves a better mom than you. Maybe you should back out. You're in way over your head."

I will tell you that God let me go on like this for six weeks. That He let me worry and fret and withdraw and didn't seem to be hearing my desperate prayers, until Wednesday.

I'll tell you now that on Wednesday, He led me to a bible study, and placed me in a certain group, with a certain woman leading it, so that He could answer me.

About how my leader asked, "When Moses sent the twelve spies to the Promised Land, what did all of them except for Jacob and Caleb report back?"

How being the new girl, I waited tentatively for someone else to answer, but when they did not, I said softly, "We're grasshoppers. They are giants. They will squash us!"

And how she nodded at me and made one remark, one that I had never heard before, never considered, in the years I've known the story of Joshua and Caleb and the ten wimpy spies. That she said, "But God did not tell them to look at the PEOPLE. He told them to go look at the LAND." And then she quickly moved on to the next question.

But I will tell you that those words penetrated my soul and my heart and mind. That I almost gasped and quickly copied her words in my bible. That I realized that since we met our daughter I have been looking at the PEOPLE and not the LAND.

That I have been looking at myself. And my weaknesses. And faults. And sins. And selfishness. And inadequacies. And fears. And failures.

And I've been looking at my daughter's fears. And insecurities. And confusion. And attachment to her nanny. And bewilderment at these strange white people who will take her away from all she knows to a land she's never been.

And when I look at the people, especially my own person, the only logical response is, "I am a grasshopper. This adoption is a giant. It will SQUASH me and I in return will squash her. I can't do this!"

I have always judged those other ten spies. I have always wondered how they could be so negative and doubtful over something that God had promised to deliver into their hands. How they could so easily look over the miracles that He provided for them daily in their quest for the Promised Land. How they could forget who their God was, how strong HE was, how sovereign HE was, how dedicated to His people that HE was. I've always ridiculed them for being so self-focused, so self-centered, that all they could see were their weaknesses instead of the faithful power of a mighty, loving, amazing, warrior God!

But, since traveling to Ethiopia, I have been the thirteenth spy. 

I have been so obsessed with my own grasshopper-ness that I have forgotten that the Lord created and prepared me specifically to be Bethie's mother. In my self-reliance I've spit out the manna that God sent from Heaven for this adoption. In my self-centeredness I could not see that I was relying on the wrong books to equip me to do this work. In my self-obsession I have forgotten that in my weakness, He is strong.

I have wandered through the desert for three years. But when my eyes finally settled on Canaan, Egypt suddenly seemed so appealing. 

The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them?

Oh God! Forgive me! I repent from my disbelief!

I have seen the promised land that my good, sovereign God has given to our family. I have seen the promised land that my mighty, awesome God has given to our daughter. He is our rock. He is our salvation. In whom shall I fear?

the Lord said to Joshua...Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

Caleb interrupted, called for silence before Moses and said, “Let’s go up and take the land—now. We can do it.”

Joshua 1:9
Numbers 13:30


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