adoption spiritual

She Tells Our Story

9:47 AMHeather

The music played and the crowd stood. Like so many other Sunday mornings throughout my life, I found comfort in the familiar routine. The words, theologically sound and Biblically accurate. Singing them over and over again remains one of my favorite ways to rehearse the truth and preach the gospel of who God is and who he makes me. The lyrics washing over me and calming my soul. Restoring my peace and building my trust.

And so, the ritual of worship and praise on that Sunday morning was like so many other Sabbath mornings. 

But then, she caught my eye.

Somehow, in my peripheral vision, her little hands caught my eye, off to the right in the darkened sanctuary.

It took my breath away.

It was so profound and so clear and so utterly beautiful that I literally skipped a breath.

The toddler girl, being held by her father. She swayed to the music and her little precious arms were lifted in praise, imitating what she saw. Imitating what she had been taught. Unashamed and too young to be self-conscious and anything more than intuitive. She raised her little arms and worshipped. With a childlike faith.

To a casual observer, nothing might have stood out from this scene. But I knew the back story. I knew the love story that led to that moment.

And so, I stared. And drank in the sight like a thirsty desert wanderer. 

It was almost too much. This incredible visual of my story. Of your story.

It's the story of all of us.

You see, I've known this little girl since she came home from the hospital. 

Not with the one who birthed her. 

But with the ones who signed up for the job. The ones who trained and filled out endless paperwork and prayed and asked to take on the task.

They were the ones who brought her home.

Knowing they might not keep her. Knowing that her story was one of brokenness. Knowing the outcome might bring heartache, but willing to endure the pain of it all as they poured themselves out. Ready to be her refuge and her caretakers.

For the time being.

I don't know all of the details of her birth or her history. It's not mine to know. But, I've been an adoption social worker long enough to speculate on the hardships that let to this newborn being placed in foster care. 

And in this placement, she also was placed in our church family. We all welcomed her. We all prayed for her. We all held her and watched her, week after week.

No matter how loosely you try to hold a foster placement, your heart always gets tied up tightly. 

This was no exception.

Her foster parents, like so many others, realized they simply couldn't hold back. Because there is no way to love loosely when your heart becomes so attached. And so, rather than trying to "keep perspective," they just learned to brace themselves.

They loved without abandon, this little one who had, in some ways, been abandoned. This little one whose health was uncertain and whose future was unsure. This little one who had a birth mama who gave her life but didn't now how to make one for her daughter. Whose birth mama struggled against circumstance. 

With a sacrificial love that is hard to fathom and a strength born from faith, they loved without abandon. Asking us to simply pray for her best interest. Her best future. Even if it wasn't with them. Even if it broke their heart.

They cheered the birth mama on. Rallying us to pray for her to set things right and make good choices. Even though that would mean they would say good-bye to the newborn who had become an infant.

The ups and downs of foster parenting is a roller coaster ride that is not for the faint of heart. Broken systems designed to help broken people generally leave the littlest ones vulnerable to a tug-of-war where no one really wins. Someone will always lose. 

The birth family.

Or the child.

Or the foster parents.

Or some combination of them all.

Yet, these young newlyweds handled it all with grace and maturity. They loved her well, and loved her birth family. They poured themselves out, knowing that their love came with a price. But they were willing. 

Even if their part of her story was only for the mean time.

And then, just as it seemed that the final resolution was becoming clear, another road block fell in the path. Just as it seemed that she would become theirs forever, an obstacle appeared that seemed insurmountable.

Our church rallied again. Preparing to fight for them in prayer and asking God for strength for them no matter what.

It was no small thing when suddenly, the news came.

She would be theirs.

Forever and always. 

Despite all the circumstances. Despite all the battles fought. Despite all the back and forth and the uncertainty.

Her future became certain. Her life became clear. And her foster parents, who had loved her enough to be willing to love her if only for a season. They became her parents for every season.

On that Sunday morning when I glanced over and saw her worshipping, in her little childlike faith, I saw our story.

Every one of us.

We are born into uncertainty. Our lives begin with a trajectory that is riddled with brokenness. The odds are stacked against us. Our future looks dismal.

But Someone stepped in.

Someone stepped up.

Counting the high cost of love, he was willing to pay the price.

And it changed our destiny. 

It changed everything.

Because he made us his very own. He did whatever it took to be able to call us his child.

Had we been left in our circumstances, the odds were stacked against us.

But he rescued us.

He delivered us.

He came for us. 

And he held us through all the long nights and promises to hold us through all the battles.

He brought us into his arms and into his forever family.

So that, like this precious little girl, our names might change.

From abandoned to beloved.

From uncertain to accepted.

From brokenness into fellowship.

And he holds us in his arms tightly.

Just as her Daddy held her tightly.

That despite whatever we are born into and whatever comes against us, we can throw our arms up in surrendered worship and know this.

And be assured of this.

That while we might have born into one future, he loved us enough to change our course.

We have all been adopted. We have all been brought in from the cold and the pain and the suffering.

That we could be made complete and whole because he dared to love us. 

And it's a love like that of her parents.

Only infinitely even better.

A love that says stay right here with me. Let me hold you. You are redeemed. Your future has been changed radically.

You are loved.

And you belong.

So, you see... that Sunday morning vignette unraveled me.

Because she tells our story.

The story of all of us.

Brought into a family.

Held by love.

That we might throw up our arms in worship and praise to the One who changed our lives. 

To the one who secured our future. For all of eternity. 

photo credit: Sunset After the Rain via photopin (license)

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