"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning...."
Today we mark 8 months at home with our precious little girl. Eight months of blessing, eight months of stretching and growing, eight months of refining in ways I never knew possible. Eight months of being further sanctified by my Lord.
In all honesty, we hit a bit of a slump this eighth month home. Things were hard. I grew weary and the weakness of my flesh controlled my actions and reactions more often than I wish to admit, but in all of that, I learned so much about the mercy and goodness of our Lord. Each day was a new start, a new opportunity, a beginning to each day that stretched before me with chances to glorify Him more and satisfy my self less. Did I succeed? No, not in the way I wanted to, but I grew to understand His fresh mercies in a new sort of way, in that moment by moment newness He graciously offers us.
It has been challenging, this eighth month, and in talking to other post adoptive mamas, I realize I am not the only one to hit this eighth month slump. I found myself often overlooking the trauma, forgetting the momentous changes, disregarding the power of triggers and memories, and being just plain annoyed (and tense and emotional and all those wonderful things that go with being this way). I let my flesh take control. Hannah has been doing so well and when she doesn't do as well as I've grown accustomed to I find my fuse shorter, my patience thin, and my ability to see beyond the situation limited. The Deceiver has had a strong grip on my thoughts and has whispered so many lies to me this month.
Truth be told, the pace of life in our household this fall has been high speed and I'm a full grown adult struggling to keep up and maintain my joy and grace to others. How then, is it possible for me to expect my newly home child to maintain her self control in these situations? Of course she's going to fall apart. Of course she's going to need reassurance. Of course she's going to act out. I easily overlooked her need to be fully prepared for new situations and had expectations that exceeded what I'd prepared her for (ummm...five minutes ahead of time or just as we jump out of the car is not enough preparation for my steeped in routine little girl!). I learned a lot this month about how my personal reactions to her sinful behavior can either add to the ever growing mountain of sinfulness for both of us, or how it can quickly put an end to things and restore our relationship. Being spread thin makes it extra hard to respond in the way my heart so deeply desires and it becomes ever more important that I have so much more of Him and so much less of me.
All things considered, Hannah has taken our full speed ahead fall schedule in stride and responded in the best ways she is equipped to respond. She's gone to ballet lessons galore and a myriad of baseball games. She's worked her hardest in her brand new speech therapy sessions. She participates in our homeschool co-op in the big kid class! She does her absolute best to participate and be involved in our homeschool (probably above her age level in most cases). I've asked (and frequently demanded) a lot from her. Sometimes she rose to the occasion and sometimes she faltered and fell, but together we have learned much. Her greatest struggle this month? Communication. This is kind of funny to me because we had so....many....opportunities since arriving home from China for communication to be one of our greatest struggles. I mean, we brought her home with an unrepaired cleft lip and palate. She spoke Mandarin and Cantonese. We spoke English. Neither one of us understood each other and yet, communication wasn't really a big issue. This month? Communication has been hard. Hannah's understanding of English is becoming more and more refined. There is so much she wants to say now and yet she just doesn't have the words for it. Her default mechanism to communicate when she is frustrated is to have a tantrum and lose her self control. If she can't find the words, her frustration mounts and the tantrum escalates. I have spent a lot of time sitting face to face with her, teaching her the skill of taking deep breaths, and trying to help her dig up these elusive words. It has been tedious, messy, and well....hard and challenging. In it all though, I am so reminded of the power of the Lord to strengthen me. When I want to snap, respond with anger, lose my own self control, or just simply give up and push her aside, He is always there, filling me, slowing me down, and washing me in His grace to pour out to her.
I've spent a good bit of time on my knees this month over this little one--so complex, so many things to overcome, yet so full of boundless energy and curiosity, so willing to tackle new things, so unreserved in making her needs known, so truly passionately affectionate and hungry for physical love. I've had moments where I've allowed the Deceiver to tell me lies and I've had moments that I've pondered if there was an ounce of truth in what he told me. And then I see her face. The twinkle in her eye. The awesome dynamic she adds to our family and our home and I hear His truths coming through loud and clear. Worth it. Worth every ounce of challenge and pain. Worth every walk through the Refiner's fire. I am growing in ways I never could have if she wasn't here. She brings an unspeakable joy to our family.
So this month, while it had its share of new challenges to overcome, it was also filled with such rest in the knowledge that God has this because clearly, I can't do it alone. I will fail her, but He won't. His love for us is lavish and unabandoned and my love for her can be the same, despite any shortcomings or sinful ways. Each time I have to correct her, I present the gospel to her. It has been such a blessing this month to hear her little voice begin to fill in the blanks: "Wrong things are sins. Sin keeps us far away from God. We have a sin problem. The Bible says all of us have a sin problem, but we can rejoice because Jesus came to rescue us! Jesus takes our sin. Jesus died on the cross so we can be close to God. Hallelujah, the gospel is true!"
Month 9 is barreling toward us. Life is moving at a rapid rate. May I rest peacefully in His gracious new mercies each day and may I abundantly pour those same new mercies out on those He has entrusted to my care.
"But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is
made perfect in weakness." Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my
weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me."
~2 Corinthians 12:9~