There’s something about writing that forges the writing into the living.
Sometimes I write retrospectively, easily seeing more clearly that way. But sometimes — like this time — I have to write what I live so that I can live what I write. It’s as if putting it on paper (my form of saying it out loud) brands me.
We’ve had a lot of required reading for all these home-studies and adoptions that just hasn’t quite applied. Six different people, with different stories and different personalities and different reflections of God they are seeing, don’t quite lend themselves to generalized solutions. I’ve mostly remembered soundbites from that stack of books.
One lesson I can’t even cite accurately, as it’s one of those vague takeaways that has danced around my mind for years now, was this: children who have experienced abandonment tend to place blame at the feet of the parent who has come after the one that has abandoned them — and usually the mother. Yes, even if the child was relinquished by their biological father, the mother who adopts them often gets the blame.
I read it. I digested it. I remembered it. And lately I’ve been tasting it.
This one wakes up with a look in their eye that says that a night’s sleep hasn’t washed them clean of the angst with which they went to bed the night before. Those eyes are like corridors of pain, telling a story I’veonly just begun to know. And the glint in them, fired at me, isn’t inviting; it’s defensive. There is so much said in so few words that I find myself feeling like I’m straddling two realities: the material words and actions — but they are those which (I also know) are coming from a heart that is bleeding beneath impenetrable armor.
To which do I respond?
Many days with this child, of late, have been like a bloated storm cloud. I read stories and back-scratch and cuddle and tickle and discipline and correct — all the things a mama does in just one hour — and I wonder if I’ll see a drop of rain, a downpour, or if I’m merely jumping at the shadows of an ominous sky that will never produce a storm.
This child’s pain, it touches me. More than just for the obvious reasons (I hurt for their hurt); some days, I just hurt for my hurt. I hurt for the dance I do when I try to trouble-shoot this anger aimed at me, coming (I think?) from before I could have spoken a word to invite it.
A thousand mommy-kisses won’t necessarily take it away.
I’m the one who loves systems and formulas and strategies — the one who has seen such beautiful success with such things to bring healing to hearts under our roof — and all I get when I take this particular child to Him and pray is this: love suffers long.
But I want the strategy. I want the method. Really, I want the way out of this awkward holding place because even though my body took nearly a decade to heal, I am still grasping for a grid for those times when He tarries.
But sometimes, love needs to suffer long. And not just for the recipient.
My flash-pot mind that wants healing, yesterday, already has a thing or two to learn about how the Father walks with me. I can’t give my child what I haven’t received, first, from Him. And as the impatience bubbles up and over, I’m left with only one choice: Will I find Him here, as my Father, in order to source this long-suffering love? Will I allow myself to receive His kind of love so that I can use it to love mine?
When I languish under these “happenstances” that I just don’t like and I entertain offense with God — when I grumble and moan at the circumstances from the hand He set to craft me — He is patient. He holds me, right here, despite my wriggling. When my emotions become my rudder and I rise and fall with the life rising and falling around me, His steadfastness towards me is kind. When I get tripped up, a dozen times in the same darn place, His grip around me is tenderly inviting.
He defines me by my getting up, not that fall I’ve taken (yet again).
And the broken years surging from behind me, those during which I just. couldn’t. jerk. free. from that struggle are seen as but days to Him — the One who marks my life by decades, not minutes, and Who sees through my failures to define me by my successes.
This God — He likes me. When no one else should or would, He enjoys me. He sifts through the dirt to find my beauty.
And somehow absorbing that — not just hearing it or saying it, but allowing myself to begin to tangibly envision that stance towards me — well, it changes me.
Sometimes, love needs to suffer long. And not just for the recipient.
Love suffers long when I have a new morning, despite the fact that this child might not. Love suffers long when I forget yesterday’s anger aimed at me and absorb today’s, anew, with fresh eyes for their pain and their history. Love suffers long when I reach through the wall and I hold with kind eyes, when I speak about who they are becoming and not who they are in this moment. Love suffers long when I see them not for what my naked-eye perceives but for who He tells me they are, in private.
But, I can only love this child with the long-suffering love that He gave me first.
That one in our lives — that child, that friend, that parent, that husband — the one who just isn’t budging under all of our love-strategies, may need to linger right where they are in order for our hearts to grow, here, up from where we are.
This long-kind-of-love may be more about me, discovering the mercy of Those Eyes that continue to suffer long with my incessant failings, than it is about this child getting the band-aid they need for that heart that bleeds beneath their rigid skin.
For Your Continued Pursuit: 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 | Proverbs 24:16 | Psalm 18:19 | Romans 4:17 | 1 Samuel 16:7
Photos compliments of Mandie Joy.