You call me out upon the watersThe great unknown where feet may failAnd there I find You in the mysteryIn oceans deepMy faith will stand
For some time my Out Upon The Water was learning to love and have a deeper understanding for certain people in my life [a few family members, mainly, because whose family is perfect?]. It was learning to forgive, even when not asked for forgiveness or even when the hurt was deeper than the "hurter" could ever understand. It was learning to love, even when my human mind and opinions deemed them unlovable. It was learning to consistently and perpetually open my hands in surrender, bend my heart, and cry out, "Not my will, O God, but yours. I believe your way and your will are so much better than mine."
Then a time of waiting and infertility and uncertainties with my body...not conceiving a life after 6 months of trying, and then 8 months, and then two years.. the mystery of not knowing was painful, grief-stricken at times. My feet failed often in the way of walking without wavering on the waters, but I pressed on and in, continuously wanting to hand over the desires of my heart. Perpetually striving to believe that what He has is better than what I wanted presently.His will, not mine. The waters were more unsteady than the painful self-denial of choosing to forgive family/friends/close ones who burned deeper than I was ready for; learning to submit the desire to conceive and carry a baby is and was agonizing to my soul. It felt like the ripping of my literal heart.
But then we conceived three weeks after I lifted my hands in [what I thought was] full [painful but beautiful] surrender and said, "Okay, Lord. I may never conceive a baby, and I want your help in walking through that and being okay with it."
And I will call upon Your nameAnd keep my eyes above the wavesWhen oceans riseMy soul will rest in Your embraceFor I am Yours and You are mine
And then we lost that little one. So our new Waters were before us to tread: walking through the tragedy of miscarriage. Boy did that grip me hard. Pulled me straight down into the depths of darkness and weariness, the pit if I had ever been in one. Walking out on those waters looked differently than the other times of Water Walking...it looked more like being so raw, bleeding our loss, letting God know every single ache and pain. It meant facing the depths of brokenness my body had gone to, and then my heart. It meant being honesty in the face of grief, even when my honesty was ugly to human hearts who had "all the right answers." It meant rejecting the Christian cliches that are fully truth but fully invalidating when said and used insensitively, unlovingly. As a band aid. Which happened alot.
And then May 11 we woke up to an email from Susan, our adoption consultant. We had began emailing her months earlier about pursuing adoption, but then put it on hold when we found out we were pregnant. She emailed us and let us know about a discount CAC was having for their consultant packages. We looked at one another, still in the trenches of grief. We prayed and looked in our adoption savings account that we had been saving little by little for almost three years. It was the exact amount needed with the discount. It was our day off so I spent a good chunk of time praying and asking, "Are you sure? Are you sure its time? I feel like quite the mess of a human. It has barely been two months but feels like it has been two hours." And just like that, we knew it was time to embark Out Upon the Waters on the journey of adoption. Officially. [Read: We Are Adopting].
The waters were a mixture of exhilarating and turbulent; I wasn't sure whether to feel joy or grief in those early stages of adoption but came to realize it was okay to feel both. It was okay to still grieve that I was not indeed 20+ weeks pregnant, but also okay to enjoy and relish the fact that there was another baby very much "growing" in our hearts as he grew in another mama's body.
Your grace abounds in deepest watersYour sovereign handWill be my guideWhere feet may fail and fear surrounds meYou've never failed and You won't start now
We walked through those months, May, June, July... with a lot of feelings. There was so much going on outside of the realm of us attempting to grow our family. We were in an unstable environment and I craved stability and health. I yearned more than ever to be in a place where we could thrive and I would feel confident bringing a baby into our life. We sought three very trusted and wise people for counsel and prayer; we began praying about what was next for us, and decided that if a move was in the near future, we would adopt as we go and believe that God would provide the means to pay for another adoption home study if we ended up in a new state. By September we were pretty confident we would not be moving anywhere until at least the following May or June . A move was scary and heart wrenching to think about; we had invested so much of ourselves and our marriage and our identity into where we were and what we were doing...that a move would mean altering our identity in a ripping-sort-of-fashion. A pain-filled one.
Spirit lead me where my trust is without bordersLet me walk upon the watersWherever You would call meTake me deeper than my feet could ever wanderAnd my faith will be made strongerIn the presence of my Savior
The waters of adoption were becoming more stable and more turbulent at the same time - they were stable in the fact that we were confident it was where God had us and if we were to fall pregnant again, we would continue our adoption pursuit. We knew this was our journey. The waters became more turbulent because The Wait seemed unbearable, even if it had only been 5 months that far. My trust was most definitely without borders on these waters. I didn't know what to do except to lift my hands in surrender and trust; trust that He was good, trust that He had loving intentions, trust that He is worth hoping in, trust that He has peace and joy worked out for my healing heart because of Jesus.. I wavered back and forth between hoping for a baby and hoping for wholeness. They were not the same thing - I wanted to become more whole through this difficult time, whether that meant we adopted a baby or moved or didn't have either of those things...I wanted my hope and trust to be in Him above all. I wanted my faith to be made stronger.
Wading through the waters of adoption is full of unknowns and uncertainties. Your feet are bound to fail as you learn to trust God for so many things through the process. Financially, the average cost of an infant US agency adoption is $30,000-$50,000 PLUS lodging, traveling, medical, and legal fees. The lowest rate of that average was more than our annual salary; can you see the trust without borders there? We had no control over this; this was not a smart thing in many people's view, but it made so much sense to our hearts. He called us, He was taking us deeper than our feet had ever wandered, and our faith was being made stronger...even if we were still trenching through grief. Possibly especially because of that. The presence of our Savior was real and thick, and continues to be.
Seeing situation [expectant mama making an adoption plan] after situation was taxing on our hearts. Mine especially. My heart ached for these expectant mamas looking for families to place their precious little ones into; it ached to be that family for that baby and birth family. Every situation that would come in, I would spend so much time praying by name over the humans involved. I was certain each one was THE ONE. This has to be it; this one; this is our mama; this is our baby; this is the one. Over and over again and it wasn't. Will we ever be a family for a baby? I often wondered and felt silly wondering, but the question loomed. And the question that responded was: and if you aren't, am I (God) enough?
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
Then there was the large mass of water labeled Substance Exposure - how much are we willing to be okay with? What do we believe about God and His healing power and His ability to equip us for whatever is thrown our way? What if we are in the NICU watching our baby withdraw from an amphetamine? Can we tread those waters? Can we do that? What about the Birth Family? What if the situation stems from rape? What if they want zero contact and leave nothing for us to share with our child? What if the baby is deemed "unhealthy" in this world's view? What if, what if, what if? Oh the avenues for learning to trust were vast and the borders for trusting were far gone.
When the borders are gone, there is no other option but to trust Him, making our faith grow stronger.
And then we heard of a baby boy born, his brave First Mama hoping to give him a life she could not currently offer. We read about him and her and our hearts loved deeply, but the agency's fees were steep and far more than we were confident in saying "yes" to. But God continuously placed those two, that baby boy and his First Mama, in our paths and on our hearts for over 24 hours. Perpetually and continuously. Until we had no other choice but to trust that if this was our son, He would have to come through. There was no other way than to depend on and trust in Him because our feet were not wandering that deep. Not alone. Not without Him.
And now we have Sage. We wanted to be a family for him...but he has helped to knit us together. He is not the lucky one...we are the lucky ones. We cannot imagine life without Sage. Over and over and over again, Loren and I ask: how are we so blessed to be his parents? How come we get to know and raise Sage? How did we land such a blessing?
We would not have been able to walk out upon those waters if it weren't for God and His outstretched hand guiding us. Holding us. Steadying us. Even when our hearts were fearful and nervous that He would not come through, even when we had moments of doubt and fear, His faithfulness remained. He has never failed us, so why would He start now?
What are your waters? They may not be adoption. Or they may be. They may be loving your neighbor (I know that I am really struggling with one of my neighbors). They may be forgiving deep wounds that were unfair, unloving, and un-gospel (I know that I am walking through this too...counseling is a rad thing that I will always recommend). They may be foster care. They may be studying abroad. They may be moving cross country...across-oceans. They may be re-learning how to love your spouse or your kids. I don't know what your waters are...but I pray for your sake that you dare to venture out upon them when you are beckoned, trusting Him. You will never have it all figured out - how things will go or unfold, who He will use and how. You don't need to know, you simply need to trust. It's going to be scary and uncertain at anytime you attempt to step out into the waters of Big things; but that doesn't mean you should withhold yourself from the good He has planned. If He has anything out there for you, it is only good. Because that is what He is: good. It is worth your faith growing stronger. It is worth being in the presence of your Savior. It is worth the risk of getting soaking wet.