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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

.An Evening of Solidarity.

I think that at the core of us, no matter our bent toward introvertedness or extrovertedness, we want to be known and to belong. We were created for relationships - of course a relationship with our Creator - but also relationships with flesh and blood people around us. Perhaps this desire has been the hardest part of this five year journey that God has taken us on. The loneliness has been palatable at times. Yet, I know standing here five years removed from the beginning of the faith journey God began leading us on, five years removed from some friendships and women that I never could have imagined wouldn't link arms with me for the journey, I know that the pain, the loneliness was necessary. I am a different woman today than the one I was before God yanked away the American dream and replaced it with His dream. I've retreated into myself more and learned who I am in Christ, apart from voices of girlfriends. I have relied more on the strength of Jesus to pull me through, dark depressing days, when in the past I may have relied more on humans to soothe away the hurt.


Taking a crazy journey of faith, that doesn't fit inside a safe box, makes a person a little uncomfortable to be around. I haven't exactly figured out why, but I know it is true. Add to that falling in love with orphans and a third world country, seeing poverty up close, and witnessing things that would make grown men sob, and I probably make a pretty depressing friend. I will never be the same again. I will never see the world as I did five years ago before God truly got a hold of my heart. So much of what used to matter - like organic, whole foods, and homemade laundry detergent, keeping a perfect home, chit-chatting about shoes and clothes and designer bags, doesn't matter at all anymore. I can no longer do the small talk, because this life is far too short and there is far too much to do. It's not easy to be my friend any longer, because my vocabulary has changed, my passions, my heart - everything inside of me, and they explode into every conversation, unless I fake it. And I have tried, but I fail. The reality is that I am a depressing, hard friend.


As many nights as I have cried into my pillow for God to bring me my people, I would never, ever turn the clocks back to five years ago and make a different choice. Knowing what I know now, I would still choose this road. I would still choose to board that plane. I would still choose to have God break my heart to smithereens every time my eyes met the haunted, hollow eyes of the starving street children. I would still choose to see what I saw in those orphanages - to know the horrible truth of institutionalization on the lives of precious little children. Those experiences have become part of me, and I needed them just as much as I have needed these five years of loneliness.


Although the overall melody of the past five years has been permeated with loneliness and a realization that I am lost inside my own skin, there have been beautiful high notes that break out in a crescendo every once in awhile. There are a few girlfriends nearby who did link arms with me, despite not having experienced what I had experienced. Although they are few, they are absolutely precious. And there are those girlfriends, those families spread all over the map, who have had similar journies and similar experiences, who truly get it. It's taken me a long time to fully realize what a gift my adoption community really is. Of course, I wish I could open my back door and welcome a friend to grab a cup of coffee anytime my heart needed encouragement, but honestly all I have to do is open my laptop and I literally have hundreds of women whose hearts beat out the same rhythm as mine. I realize now what an incredible gift this is, and how rare of a blessing I have been given.

And this past weekend, I got to spend several hours with two of these women and their families. To hug the necks of women who have been in the trenches, who have seen what I have seen, who are tired and feel as if they have nothing more to give, who wrestle with life here in America after seeing life over there,  who are desperate to do a  great job of parenting these children who we fought so hard for while not neglecting the children we birthed, who question the status quo - even in our churches - there is no way to describe what it is to look into the worn, tired eyes of sisters in Jesus and know that I am known. I belong somewhere.


We stood in the kitchen, we sipped sangrias and cokes, and children ran around us - a beautiful sea of faces and colors. We said little and we said a lot - our eyes and hearts saying the most. She tentatively formed the words do you ever think about how easy it would have been? The three of us look at one another as the words hover in the spaces between us. Sacred words that cannot be whispered to girlfriends who don't understand what these journies have cost us. But in that room, those words are safe and understood. There is no judgement and there is no guilt in feeling the emotions that come with the path that we have each chosen. Tears filled our eyes, each of us deep in thought thinking about how easy life may have been if we had said no. No to the eight children from Ethiopia between the three of us. No, to a third world country. No to adoption and heart ache and expense and pain. No to having to figure out how to parent children who don't even know what living in a family really means. We have all lost something in this journey - there is always a cost to following Jesus. And as the weight of the words hung over us, and tears pricked our eyes, we knew it was a safe question, and without saying a word we also knew that none of us would ever choose to go back and take the easy path.

The evening continued with laughter and empathy, and the amazing gift of being reunited on this side of the ocean with our favorite Ethiopian guide, his sweet wife, and their little girl (they just recently obtained visas to live in the states). With food and fellowship. With mommy stories and understanding and empathy for the teenage years we are embarking on. We threw up our hands and admitted to having no idea what we were doing and shared stories about cell phones and curfews and laundry and {shudder} girlfriends. It was relaxed. I dare even say it was worshipful. And not once did one of these women who I love so dearly, because of the bond we have through Ethiopia and Jesus, take out her cell phone. We had each other for the night, and the rest of the world stood still in the background while we soaked up the minutes together. It was just flesh and blood conversation, lingering stories, nodding, tears, and a knowing that permeated the evening. It was stories revisited and exchanged. It was children - loud and happy, men - laughing and sharing, and our tight little circle of three women linking arms. And for a few hours on a warm Friday summer evening, on this side of the globe, I found myself feeling known and understood, and the solidarity for those brief moments melted the loneliness away.



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