I buried my head in the pillows of the couch like I was that teenager, all over again, the one who lost her spot on the cheerleading squad.
Looking back, I wonder if my dad, when he held me that night my high school experience felt shunted, looked at my circumstances in light of all that was around me and smirked. Cheerleading, honey? C’mon. Then I remember his face when I told him, when his big recliner chair held all of him, and all of him was holding me. It was taut with pain. Years earlier, he’d tried to coax me away from my decision to forfeit a spot on the state-winning cross-country team in exchange for a tenuous position on the cheerleading squad. Now, his heart broke with mine — never mind how frivolous my loss may have seemed in that perspective.
Now no longer carrying teenage angst, I tried to hide from the seeming-ancient-in-my-eyes pain underneath those pillows on the couch. I knew my heavenly Daddy hurt with me, just like my earthly daddy did some fifteen years earlier. The implications of this suspended loss, though, was generational. Regardless of your theology on how God approaches sickness and healing, we can all agree that the Father of scripture carries a heart which bends to the brokenhearted.
“What are we gonna do?” I asked Nate, wearing the dejected tone that had become cyclical. “Is it time to pray and fast, to get back on the wall and cry out to God to heal me? Or is it finally time to figure out what’s really wrong here?” I’m not getting any younger was the last line of this familiar diatribe, but one I’d left out this time.
He paused, taking in all of me — the broken me. My long days of kissing ouchies, and fostering friendship between children-made-siblings overnight, and training hands not to touch and arms how to cuddle, combined with the turning of another year of my life made it much easier for my filter of reason and heavenly perspective to erode. And I let it, and I let down.
He caught my crumpled self and sent me in another direction. “No, Sara. It’s not time to intercede or investigate. At least not right now. It’s time to adore.”
He became like the psalmist, reminding Israel of God’s great conquests. My wayward heart had too-soon told otherwise. Just weeks earlier, we walked over bureaucratic hot coals to retrieve orphans and make them daughters, all at the miraculous hand of God. Those close enough to know the play-by-play stood in awe of God’s exploits. (I wrote about just one story, of many, here.)
He showed Himself mighty and here I was again believing myself to be trapped in a current, always headed downward.
Short-term amnesia. I’ve already become acquainted with adoration* as my survival. Worshiping God for who He is, and all He’s done, in us, in them, in scores of people who have known Him to be powerful (and tender), changes things. It changes me. Adoration is a necessity for this woman who finds herself often allured by negativity and hooked into fear. Because it’s like a magnetic force — this He’s never going to come through for me attitude which I take drags on, daily. And my only out is up.
Looking up. Gazing, staring intentionally at the Man of the Bible — the Man of war — who has set Himself to win all of humanity back to their rightful place as sons and daughters, despite gravity’s pull to make us live as orphans.
Nate was right. My greatest fight comes through adoration, it’s in praying God’s Word about His character and His nature right back to Him. And the battle isn’t just for my womb, it’s for my heart. Lots of little moments — inviting intoxication with fear and doubt and lack of belief in His love for me — have a chance to get turned around. Upside down. With adoration.
As I stepped off our plane between London and Texas with two hands in mine which I’d only just held for the first time five weeks earlier, my heart was racing with victory. The great I Am, was. For me, and for them. We walked through customs and I wore their affection like a crown. He did it, the anthem in my head.
And the dust had barely settled on our new existence as a family of six before the enemy is whispering forgotten over me, over this same story. And, worse, I’m believing it.
Some days I feel like I am eking out breaths under the weight of brokenness around me. Ten-plus years of fatherlessness under my roof needing to be healed, a womb that’s never known the intimacy of a child’s formation inside of it, and other heart-pains, too personal to write about. But I cannot — will not — stay in the place where I draw conclusions about my Daddy’s eyes for me based on my circumstances.
My conclusions about Him, and about me and Him, must come only from Him. And if they don’t, I’m sunk.
When I look at Him and take from His word and speak back the truth of who He is in salvaged moments — everything changes.
Adoration doesn’t make life beautiful, it makes me see the beautiful. The Man called Beauty. The God-Man who takes His breath to my ashes, daily — hourly, and with one word unearths the beauty.
So, I’m remembering the face of my father — and of my Father. He knows. He has not forgotten. And He’s more powerful than I could ever understand.
And I get up off that couch.
*To read more about how I adore, here’s a precursor to My Morning Chai— the corner of my blog where I practice adoration. For those of you who want to begin practicing your own adoration, in writing form, I have hopes of soon creating a regular link-up here where we can share in one another’s adoration. I’m learning it helps to have others adoring beside me.
Photo compliments of Lucy O Photography.