My husband embraces challenges. And that's one of the reasons that I love him. We often laugh as we share with others that before we got married, I knew that I would have to be content with possibly living in a hut in a primitive place for the rest of our lives. He's the kind of person who sits up in bed in the middle of the night and excitedly asks, "Can we talk about how we can live off of less money?" But it's not simply a challenge that motivates my husband to do hard things. It's his conviction. His integrity. So when I began to see his heart deeply convicted about international adoption, I knew that I should take him seriously.
Thankful that we can provide different strengths to our marriage, I admit that a desire to embrace difficult tasks and to live uncomfortably is most certainly unnatural for me. With regard to adoption, I loved the idea of it. I needed no reminder that God's Word speaks clearly about the Christian's responsibility to care for the fatherless. I saw the beautiful Gospel representation in bringing an orphan into a loving, stable, Christ-centered family just like God, through Christ, has adopted an undeserving sinner like me into His eternal family (Ephesians 1). I enjoyed talking about adoption with Paul, and I loved seeing children adopted into wonderful families at our church. But deep down, I knew that something was missing. Deep down, something about personalizing adoption made me feel very uncomfortable, and it bothered me. Strangely, I couldn't grasp what was preventing me from being excited about the prospect of us adopting internationally. So I became more intentional: prayers about adoption became more frequent and more specific; I began to single out some people at our church who had adopted or who were in the process of adopting; I read excellent books about adoption; and I read blog after blog after blog after blog and waited for a breaking point.
...And remained frustrated. Why was I not more compelled? When would I be so emotionally moved by "a burden placed on my heart" that my tears would prevent me from talking to my husband across the dinner table like the girls about whom I read on these blogs? What was wrong with me?
And as my husband graciously and patiently allowed me to wrestle through this with him, we began to see the heart of my struggle, namely, fear. I realized that it wasn't that I didn't want to adopt; rather, I didn't want to adopt unless I could somehow be guaranteed that our adopted child would never suffer and that Paul and I would parent perfectly. And as Paul and I hashed out my thoughts, it seemed that God was systematically revealing a paralyzing web of fear that penetrated deeply and broadly. Fear about ways that being adopted can psychologically impact a child for the rest of his/her life. Fear that I might not love an adopted child as much as I would a biological child. Fear that our child and our family might experience the evil that is racism. Fear about the ways that growing up in a racially segregated city like Memphis has impacted me (though I love and miss Memphis!). Fear about the ways we might be perceived by outsiders.
I certainly believe that any adopting parent should think through issues like these prior to adopting. But I do not believe that fears alone should prevent me from moving forward, because as I pray through these fears and read my Bible, I see that as His child bought by Christ's blood, God hates my fear. Why? Because it's not from Him. Fears prevent me from living courageously by His Spirit and from seeing God's glory worked in our family as we seek to live out that which we profess to believe. He calls me to expect hardships and to live by faith in His sufficiency. He calls me to imitate those who have come before me and have chosen to live for the reason they were created at the expense of worldly ease: the Abrahams, the Sarahs, the Moses', the Rahabs, and other biblical heroes of the faith who desired a "better country, a heavenly one," (Hebrews 11:16). Fears hinder ministry (wives, need I mention our wonderful 1 Peter 3:1-6 passage to support this statement?), and true, Christ-honoring, fruitful, Christian faith forbids fear.
Praising Him who graciously helps me fix my eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of my faith when they're so prone to wander, I increasingly anticipate what's ahead.