Glorious things have happened in this house recently. Things that have brought us tremendous joy and endless laughter, But lurking near every moment of joy has been pain that is equally as intense. There has been fear that is crippling, and doubt that rushes over me in waves so intense that I feel like I am drowning.
Yesterday was a perfect nightmare of emotions. Indeed, yesterday was a prime example of the beautiful juxtaposition of grace and pain in our lives.
My day began with some major celebration. I’m talking happy dance; happy tears; warm, fuzzy “God-you-are-really-here” happiness. The day began with a quiet house – a rarity in Daly-land. Destinee was at school learning with her friends. Jeremiah was in a rare super-snuggly mood, curled up beside me watching “Super Why”. I was enjoying the slow place of the morning, and then it happened.
Vance sent me a text. In a flash, my mood dashed from being happy to being over-joyed. The text was quite simple, really. It was just a picture of a legal document. But, friends, this legal document was an important one to me. It gave us the legal power to actually make some decisions for our precious chocolate children. No more stress over doctor visits. Or dentists. Or school. Or dance class. Or soccer. One piece of paper… containing the guarantee of so much peace. I simply cannot even covey my joy in that moment. I stared at the signed document, developed a zillion questions for Vance about how he had managed to get a signature from our chocolate children’s mother so quickly, laughed, danced ( I mean full-blown Roger Rabbit dancing), giggled… and then I cried. Big tears. Tears of joy.
I was still in celebratory land 43 minutes later when the doorbell rang. Something felt weird, and I was a little concerned when I rounded the corner to hear voices in the kitchen. My sweet little Jeremiah had not only answered the door, but had invited our guest into our home. I’m not even sure I know enough words to adequately explain the surge of emotions that rushed through my body when my eyes locked with hers.
There, in my kitchen, stood the birth mother of my precious children. In MY kitchen. Unexpected. Unannounced. Unaware of the effect that her presence had on me.
It was awkward. It was uncomfortable. We chatted almost as eloquently as two toddlers being forced to share a beloved toy. Jeremiah, on the other hand, was beside himself with elation! He dragged her all through the house. He showed her his room. His bed. His favorite toy. He showed her the pictures he had drawn… even the picture of “Daddy Vance and his vanilla brodders”. He held her hand. He smiled. He giggled. He chattered incessantly. And, I sat back in a fear induced trance. I felt invisible. Unnoticed. It was like I had suddenly become a stranger in my own home.
And then it got worse. His mother lingered. And lingered. And lingered. And then, after what seemed like hours, but was most likely only 30 minutes or so, she asked if Jeremiah wanted to go outside to see her boyfriend. (Unbeknownst to me, he had been waiting outside in the car.) And, I heard words come out of my mouth – words that were shocking and painful and scary- I asked her if she wanted to invite him in too. And the cycle continued. Again, Jeremiah proudly exposed his “family” to his new life… and I, once again, became an invisible figure in my own home.
Minutes ticked away, and I needed to finish getting dressed so that I could pick Destinee up from school and take her to the dentist. I accidentally explained why I needed to excuse myself – secretly hoping that my guests would decide to leave… but, it didn’t work. It backfired. As soon as I finished talking, Jeremiah’s mother quickly spoke.
“You’re taking Destinee to the dentist today? Can I go with you?”
Time stood still, and I heard myself respond. To my astonishment, I almost sounded cheerful and encouraging.
“Sure you can!”
They stayed seated, chatting with Jeremiah- my Jeremiah- and I left the room. As I walked out of the room, I cast a helpless look in Vance’s direction; and, without uttering a word, I knew that he felt every ounce of emotion that I felt.
I walked into my bedroom, dragged myself into my closet, sat on the floor.
And then I cried.
Big tears laced with more fear and pain that I ever imagined possible. Through my tears, I begged God to help me understand.
Seriously Lord. I do not understand. She hasn’t been here at all. At all. We’ve been doing all that we can to keep them stable. To keep them safe. To make them ours. This morning you gave me such hope. We got LEGAL papers. Hope. Happiness. Please please please help me understand… Why is she here? Why did you let her be here today? I cannot do this. I just can’t. You can’t give me such hope only to rip these kids from my arms. I cannot do this today. I. just. can’t. Remind me of who you are. Help me. Help me. Help me. Help me see your face. Help me trust you. Help me love her… because I don’t want to. Father, help me.
Within minutes, Vance walked through the door. “They’re gone. They will meet you at the school to pick up Destinee.” I breathed a sigh of relief. Then he added one more sentence. “And they took Jeremiah with them.” It took me a few seconds to understand what he had told me. I sat down as a stunned silence echoed in the room. And then I cried some more.
Through my tears, I began to confess all my fears to Vance. Words just kept falling out of my mouth. The fear of losing my chocolate children is a constant in my life; but, until I heard myself actually articulating my fears, I didn’t realize the tremendous grip that the fear had on me. I rambled on and on, and my precious husband listened patiently. But, something happened as I talked. The truth of God’s word kept coming out. Without really intending to do so, I kept speaking life and truth over myself. And, in that moment, I realized that God had been lovingly preparing me for this very moment.
I sat there in awe of my savior as I recalled the notes I had written during my quiet time the day before. In my chronological study, I had read Genesis 42:1 – 44:34 – The story of Joseph’s brothers showing up to buy grain during the famine. You know, the part where the brothers who tried to kill him finally discover that not only is Joseph alive, but he just so happens to be a powerful leader in Egypt.
Usually, the “brother drama” in that story captivates my attention. But not when I read it the other day. Suddenly, the plight of Israel, Joseph’s father, captivated my attention. My eyes locked on Genesis 42:36. “Their father Jacob (Israel) said to them, You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me.”
At this point in the story, Israel still believes that Joseph is dead. Simeon is locked away in Egypt and will only be released if the other brothers bring Benjamin back. Through Israel’s eyes, nothing seems to make sense. Life seems to be falling apart. It makes absolutely NO sense to him to send his youngest son, his new favorite, his precious Benjamin to Egypt.
And he freaks out. Letting go of Benjamin is so hard. But, what Israel doesn’t know is that God has a plan – a plan to not only return Benjamin and Simeon to the arms of their father, but also to restore Joseph into the family. Israel has no idea that he has to let go in order to regain.
Israel’s story was so powerful to me the other morning. I was moved. I was haunted. I hurt for him. And this is the note I made in my Bible:
“In the middle of what seems like chaos, often we struggle to see how God’s hands are holding us, shaping us, and guiding us into restoration.”
When my hands wrote that in my Bible, I had NO IDEA that I would need to hold on to that same truth in less than 24 hours. I had NO IDEA that God was preparing me to trust Him. To trust His timing. To trust His way. To do the hard things – even when the pain seems almost unbearable.
Sitting there on the bathroom floor, less than 24 hours later, God simply reminded me of what he had already showed me. He reminded me that Israel had to let go in order to receive…and He flooded me with a peace that only He can give.
And then I cried.
The rest of the afternoon was unbelievable. After our dental appointment, we ventured to Chik Fila for lunch and some playtime. The kids ran and laughed and played. They bounced from one “mom” to the other, covering us with their love. We all smiled. We all laughed. We all enjoyed the time together.
While the kids played on the playground, in a rare moment of quiet adult -time, God poured out His grace in the form of 13 words.
“I’m not going to ever take the kids away from you, Miss Kim.”
She knew I needed to hear it. And, she gracefully allowed me the freedom to love these kids with reckless abandon. And, in that moment, I realized that she needed my love more than I had ever realized. And, suddenly, I wanted to pour it on her.
I sat there swimming in warm fuzzy sappy spiritual thoughts. I thought about Israel – how he had to let go to receive; how he must have felt when he realized the grace and mercy of God; how he must have cried such tears of joy…
And then I cried. Right there in Chick Fila, I cried.
Love is so so hard; but, it works. It really does.