Monday, July 21, 2014

When grief rears its painfully beautiful head

The thing about grief is that in our brokenness Jesus is closer. That's the beauty in it. You never taste him so clearly as in the midst of grief. I think parenting a child who has been through trauma usually is what scares people away from adoption. What I'm learning from a book I've been reading is our western culture tries to avoid grief and suffering at all costs, not entering into situations that may bring about future grief or suffering. I'll admit this was one of my unknowns in adoption as well. But today reminded me that while grief is still ugly and painful, it brings about such beauty and glory too.
Grief seems to come in waves at our house. Today was the peak of one of those waves. John was working late so as any good mom was I loaded the kids in the car to head for the Chick-fil-A drive through. I had my iPhone on shuffle playing songs in the car. I had turned the volume down low to address my sweet two year old throwing books while in was driving. Unknown to me my phone shuffled to a song I played on repeat during crying spells in Congo. I rarely go to that playlist anymore. Sure enough something brought on a wave of memories and grief and wailing ensued from the backseat somewhere on the interstate. Usually these things happen at home and can be more easily with physical comfort and a sweet prayer time and talk. With hungry kids in the car it can be tough. So I finally made it to Chick-fil-A and pulled in a spot to get closer to my girl. I called her forward and hugged her and rubbed her back as she cried. I immediately prayed to myself something like "God. This is something I cannot handle. I am alone tonight feeding bathing and putting 4 kids to bed and once I get home it will be hard to devote all my attention to her for the time she needs for this. Please multiply my words, give me strength and wisdom and show me how to comfort her." I finished by praying to myself, then prayed over Maran out loud and when I looked up I noticed my sweet tender hearted Wheeler crying in the backseat. I mouthed to him if he was ok and what was wrong as Maran's head was nuzzled down. He motioned he was just sad because she was. We finally settled enough to make it through the drive through. Of course, only God orchestrated our food passer to be our sweet employee from Uganda adopted when she was 13. So we all waved and left with the food in two and as we pulled away again the crying began again, all the way home. Again I prayed, knowing all 4 kids would want to eat when they got home and knowing Maran still needed undivided attention. I wallowed in my inadequacy for a moment and then turned it back over in prayer. As I got home, I told Maran to wait for me in her bed as I got all the food laid out for the others. As I got to Reese's meal she decided she wanted to go upstairs with Maran instead. I got the boys fed and headed upstairs to find Reese sitting making Maran a rainbow loom necklace while Maran cried. Levi beat me to the side of Maran's bed and laid his head on her stomach while I patted her and talked to her. We finally made it through with talking and snuggles.  As we all came back down for Maran to eat her dinner, I realized something that brought me to tears. I pulled Reese and Wheeler aside and told them about my prayer in the car. I said " I trusted God would answer my prayer, he is always closest when dealing with the brokenhearted. But I thought he'd answer my prayer by giving me the right words to say and give me wisdom on how to comfort Maran. But instead, God used you Wheeler to cry with Maran when she felt alone in her sadness. God used you Reese to sit with Maran when I couldn't be there with her and cheer her up with a gift. God even used Levi to snuggle on Maran and comfort her. God didn't give me the right words or thing to do, he instead chose to use you guys. And you obeyed God when he nudged you to act. And that is what is beautiful even in the hard parts of our story. This is how God makes good stories out of brokenness. He pulled our family together in the most amazing of ways."
Reese proudly smiled and said "how did Wheeler crying help Maran?" We talked about Lazarus dying and how Martha needed words and truth from Jesus. But Jesus didn't speak to Mary because he knew what she needed in the midst of her grief. She just needed someone to cry with her and feel her sadness and carry her load with her. And that's what Jesus did. He wept right along with her. Just like Wheeler. Wheeler didn't have to care that his sister was upset. But he chose to take on her pain and feel it with her. And she noticed. Maran asked me later why he cried in the car and a light came into her eyes when I told her he was hurting for her.
After bedtime John got home and shared with me that his employee, the sweet Ugandan girl who passed us our food, sat down with him at a break and she shared her story with him. She is 17. Adopted from Uganda at age 13. And she has written a book already about her God sized story. What a beautiful blessing.
So yes grief is ugly. It is painful. It is something we would typically rather stay away from. But if I chose a life without entering into someone's grief I would miss out on how close Jesus can be in times like this. I hate it has to be Maran's grief. I would take it on in an instant. But my prayer for her is that Jesus becomes more real to her in these times. As I tell her frequently, I don't know when or if God will heal her heart this side of heaven, adoption is hard and it is not wrapped in a pretty bow of being a "lucky" child for getting out of a tough situation. Even the beautiful parts of adoption come out of loss and pain, and we are honored to walk this road together. Just as we named Maran after the aramaic word Maranatha that means "The Lord comes" or "the Lord is near", come near Jesus. 
I don't share this sacred story with you so you feel pity for my strong girl, but I share it to make God bigger. Jesus surprises me daily with how intimate he can be in the details of our trials and requests. And he shows up big when I surrender in dependence on him. I do not have the wisdom to parent 4 lives and point them perfectly to Christ, but I know in my weakness when I call out to Him he answers and reveals himself in ways beyond what I could ask or imagine. Thank you Jesus. 
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