Right now, my oldest child is sleeping next to me, so I’ll try to type quietly.
There. Is that better?
Imagine me whispering this to you, while snuggled up under an electric blanket.
Three months ago, a little boy sobbed as we held him for the first time. He came unwillingly. He despised me in particular and still does some days. And I’ve found myself in a battle for joy and thankfulness….a battle against postadoption depression. I’ve lost this battle some days and leaked out bitterness and spite. This child’s fears went against everything we did and everything we loved. And when we came home, this child’s immune system took a hit and made him susceptible to illness, and the whole family has been sick for three months. He still acts like an orphan, despite being loved in the context of a family, and daily that presents challenges for us. He does not implicitly trust us to be fighting for his good. It will come. I know it will. However, this has been a lonely walk for each individual in our family. And I know it will be a lengthy walk.
Faithfulness is honoring and obeying God in the daily mundane.
So I continue, numbering the gifts I’ve been given.
Earlier this week, the snow sparkled champagne pink with the light of the rising sun. Negative temperatures so low it broke my born-and-raised-Minnesotan code of conduct not to complain about the weather. I saw the pink, glittering, and knew my daughter would love it. “Jubi! Look at the pink sparkly snow. It’s God’s gift to you this morning.”
And from the back of the van, I heard a little voice say confidently “God give Dee-Dee pink snow!”
And then a chorus of voices, whimpering: “But I want a gift!!!! What’s God’s gift to me this morning, Mama?”
This Christmas, I’ve been given the gift of a child who has never experienced Christmas.
I’ve been given a gift of another child to love and to raise. An imperfect child, with a perfect Heavenly Father who gives good gifts. Our family will never look the same again, and it is our duty to bend and bear one another’s burdens. It was that moment, with my children half whining, half clamoring for any scrap of joy, that I soul-knew that counting gifts, counting moments and dropping them like pearls on a string is making me healthier and whole. Filled with peace. Shalom, our youngest’s middle name means perfect peace, although I read once that a closer definition of Shalom would be “the way things are supposed to be.”
And I remember the peace prayer of Saint Francis.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
And I so long to be that kind of instrument. A mother who brings peace, love, pardon, faith, hope, light, and joy. A woman who consoles, understands, loves, and gives.
2 Corinthians 6:1 has been mulling around in my heart this week. “Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.”
This grace. This grace. I don’t want to receive it in vain. So I name it. And am grateful for it. And worship because of it. And out of that worship flows work.
The honoring and obeying faithfully in the daily mundane.
So that’s what I want to whisper to you today, friend. Faithfulness. Do the work today that needs to be done. Even if it’s harder than you ever thought imaginable.
Merry Christmas. May you be embraced by the God who brings peace and joy this year.