When Rachel asked me to write about waiting, I said, “Sure no problem. Waiting. Yes, absolutely.” And I’ve been paralyzed…WAITING…not having a clue what to say! The theme of my life is waiting. Waiting is what I do best…and worst. How do I fit it all in to one blog post?
My life has been a series of lessons on waiting. Deep, painful lessons that leave me staggering into God’s lap like a toddler after a boo-boo in need of a hug. I tried for four years to get pregnant. 49 monthly cycles, to be exact. Ask me how much I love it when people give me a perk-up smile and say, “It’ll happen in God’s timing.” Yes, yes, thank you. Now please go away. I think my favorite comment was when a guy with whom I worked asked me if we were “doin’ it right.” Seriously?
I love the many examples of barren women in Scripture. The story of Abraham and Sarah (around about Genesis 17) both challenged me and encouraged me. Through all of my waiting, I have prayed for Isaac. That I would wait for Isaac. That I wouldn’t get ahead of God and make an Ishmael out of my impatience. His way, His plan.
After five years and God working miracles through science, we birthed our precious baby boy, and hey, no waiting there, because it was a high-risk pregnancy that totally tanked at the end and they had to rip him out at 34 weeks. For the first time in five years, something came early. And that something was worth the wait, worth the agony. The waiting pain faded.
Then more trying more waiting more pain. Then…adoption. We didn’t see this journey coming. God blindsided us with the hunger and passion and joy and all-consuming desire to bring home our child from Ethiopia. We started the process. Adoption is so near and dear to the heart of God that you might think He’d fling open the heavens and fly our baby into our arms. Oh, but He had so much more to teach me.
I thought I was a waiting veteran. I mean, I was and am a scarred and bruised human lab rat, battle hardened, unflinching in the face of waiting. Bring. It. On. Or so I thought.
Months of paperwork, months of waiting, referral. Seeing our daughter’s face through photos, reading her life on paper, preparing to meet her and bring her home.
The week we received a court date for our precious daughter, our paperwork ended up in an unmoving pile, victim of circumstances unrelated to our situation. We prepared for our court trip, praying and believing that, as a friend said, God would perform a parting of the red tape seas. He didn’t. We flew to Ethiopia. We went to court for our daughter. Our file went back on the pile. And we waited. While we were there, Ethiopia announced that they were cutting adoptions by 90%.
Months dragged on. We received monthly updates on our girl, growing up before our eyes in pictures. We’d held her. I clung to the memory of the cocoa butter smell of the top of her head. Those of us with files sitting on the same pile found each other on Facebook. We shared updates and hugged each other across the miles.
Finally, the pile began moving. One by one, we heard good news of passing court from families long sitting on the pile. We knew we were near the bottom. Finally one day, we heard of people who went to court on the same day with us passing, passing, passing. We were getting closer, here it came, we could hear the sound of the good news over the phone.
Finally the day came. Caller ID showed the number we so longed to see. But when I heard our caseworker’s voice, I heard hesitation. Because of a “lost in translation” on one of our documents, they put us back on the pile.
We were at the beach. I sobbed salt tears into the salt water up to my chin, staring across the ocean craning to see Africa to see across water and continent and see her face and will her to me over the sand and over the waves.
And I asked, “Lord, how to I glorify You in this?” Small, cracked, pinched voice pleading for a way to make it count. Make this pain matter. Make it point to the Kingdom. The waiting, the pain, the fear, all of it for Him.
And I found the act of GIVING thanks. I was reading Ann Voskamp’s “1000 Gifts” at the time, and as I read about giving thanks in everything, I found my answer to this pain. I wrung out my shriveled, tear-stained heart and began to pump it full of thanks, one by one, blessing by blessing, praising my Savior.
And finally we passed court. Then waited to be submitted to the U.S. Embassy for a visa. And then one day, everything was almost ripped away. A snag. A ripple. Something that had never happened before. And I was back on my knees, sobbing loud prayers in the closet. Our bags were packed, stacked in the corner, filled with little clothes and little shoes and everything from powdered Pedialyte to prunes.
Our story turned from “waiting” to hovering precariously over “losing.” I laid her down. All of it. Two years of waiting and dreaming. One by one released fingers in death grip, color trickling back into white knuckles. And then we got the email. Come get her.
It was time. The wait was over.
As my two kids breathe heavily in their beds after another gift of a day where we used blessed words like “mommy,” “daddy,” “brother,” “sister,” I sit in the quiet, grateful for my God-through-science miracle and my God-through-paperwork miracle. And for my own miracle, God-through-waiting.
In the waiting, give thanks, no matter what. Blessings can look beautiful or bloody and there’s beauty in the bloody. Give thanks.
Wait WITH God, not just FOR God. Talk with Him, cry with Him, anguish with Him, rejoice with Him.
Wait for Isaac. Don’t make an Ishmael. Don’t get ahead of God. Seek Him in everything through prayer, digging into the Bible, listening to godly people around you, fasting.
And finally, perhaps the most boggling thing that I have learned about waiting is the intense JOY that it brings. I don’t mean the exhale at the end of the wait. I mean that I have come to the mind-blowing realization that joy is feeling emotionally broken and bloody, sitting with Jesus, who knows a little something about brokenness. Sitting in the Father’s lap, exhausted from the battle, but feeling so close SO CLOSE to Him, hearing His voice so near. Joy in the pain of the wait.
My waiting has come through my children, and we’re beginning the adoption process again, so here we go again. Your wait, your Isaac, might have nothing to do with children. I have discovered that the wait isn’t the road you have to take to get to the treasure. No, the wait is part of the treasure. Life’s about the journey. Not just the destinations, but the bumpy bus and turbulent plane rides, too.