The past few weeks have been an exhausting collection of ups and downs, and it's left me with just enough energy to reflect.
"Always rejoice, unceasingly praise, in everything give thanks..."; great in theory and even better in practice. When, of course, you remember (and are able) to do so. I have found that when I stress out about something, or have fear over some 'unknown' in my life, that when that issue is resolved I am more relieved than I am thankful. As in a, "phew I'm glad that's over, now on to the next worry" kind of thing, which is a far cry from true gratefulness.
It's not a healthy habit, physically or spiritually.
Last week I was having a lot of chest pain. I suppose pressure is more accurate, which was not new, but along with higher than normal blood pressure and some dizziness it was enough to get my imagination running away on me. With the many long drives to Ensenada lately I have been more tired than usual and already on the edge emotionally, and so when the doctor told me to go see a cardiologist, TOMORROW, well let's just say I did not have some of my best days.
So you would think that when said cardiologist told me there was nothing wrong with my heart I would have been immediately elated, and grateful to not have such a dangerous health issue. You would think. Unfortunately, even after all I have gone through and experienced and how many times God has provided, it took awhile for me to get there.
Do you want to know what my initial feeling was? I'm ashamed to admit it, but I felt stupid. Ridiculous, really, and angry at myself for being such a worrier and jumping to conclusions when the problem was just muscular and stress. Excessive coffee intake probably hasn't helped either. It took someone else pointing out what great news that was for me to get a handle on things.
Yesterday I was in a similar situation. Now, Alex and I have been together for seven years. Seven of his eight beautiful years have been with me, and I can no longer imagine life without his big crazy smile and sweet tender heart.
And even though I am so grateful, for these seven years I have been worrying.
About many things, as mothers tend to do, but the biggest concern was always there in the back of my mind; what if his biological family suddenly wants back in the picture? What if they decide he has been away long enough and want to invoke their parental rights? What if I lose him too?
This is another place where practicing gratefulness can come in, because I believe that being thankful for what He has already given us goes hand in hand with giving our fears over to God and trusting in Him. I often feel like I live in a tug or war between both sides - fear and gratefulness, doubt and trust.
So while ping-ponging back and forth, I recently (finally) submitted a letter of intent of adoption for Alex. I was excited to be moving forward on this, yet still fearful that things would only fall apart in the process. I was afraid that once I actually wrote my intentions down on paper that Alex's family would suddenly be shaken out of their passivity and want him back. It is easy to know in your brain that God is in control, however less-so to actually live it out.
Regardless of this underlying fear, yesterday we drove the 25 minutes to go and visit them. I think Alex has seen them around twice a year for the past few years, at most, and before that nearly two years had past since the last visit. We went because they asked if we would (they have no car or bus money), and because I knew it was time to bring up the subject of adoption. It was the usual semi-awkward visit; not for the kids, of course, they were happy to play within minutes. His parents don't really seem to know what to do with a son they don't know, and even less with the white girl who is just part of the deal. (Although I did catch on this time that when their kids don't behave they jokingly threaten to send them away to my house, which I thought was equally funny and disturbing. It does explains why the smallest kids have always been so scared of me though.)
So as casually and carefully as I could, I brought up the subject and explained my reasons for wanting to adopt. His dad asked a few clarifying questions, and then guess what?
He said yes.
Years of worrying, wondering and fearing the worst were wiped away in his simple reply. He was so calm that I asked him if he was really sure.
He was, and his wife agreed.
It took about an hour to sink in, and on the ride home I finally looked over at Alex and said, "Guess what? He said 'yes'!"
"Your dad. He said he would sign the papers for your adoption."
Alex's reaction was what mine should have been - a shout of joy, bouncing around in the car and asking when he could get his passport. And if we could have pizza.
That is where I want to live - being grateful for that moment, in that moment. Not just being cautiously optimistic because I know there is still a lot of red tape and government approval to get through, or that a thousand other things could still go wrong, or that they still could easily change their mind. Instead I choose to be thrilled today, that his family values what I've been blessed to have given their son all these years and have no intention of taking him away.
So we're excited! And blessed, and oh SO thankful! And looking forward to the challenges ahead :)