Disclaimer: I am in no way downing our American Mother's Day and I think it is a truly special day. I deeply appreciated all the thoughts of encouragement sent my way! This is a testimony of what God did in my heart yesterday.
Yesterday was Mother's Day. Last year, I spent Mother's Day on an airplane, flying thousands of miles away from Ethiopia and my children. It was a difficult day. Weeks before, we had adopted our 2 Ethiopian children and yet I came home with empty arms. I thought this Mother's Day would be such a celebration. And while it was joyous, I was completely surprised and overwhelmed with the pain that pierced my heart. From the time I woke up and my husband said Happy Mother's Day, my heart and mind traveled across the globe to an African country called, Ethiopia. Memories flooded me; mothers and children begging on the streets with empty bellies and hollow eyes, mothers walking miles with their children strapped to their backs to try to make mere pennies, mothers changing diapers made of plastic grocery bags, mothers sleeping on the street holding their children as close as possible, and mothers who made a difficult decision to give their children life because death was knocking on the door.
Honestly, I deeply struggled this Mother's Day. I struggled with the "badge of honor" I received because I am now a mom. While I deeply appreciated the encouraging words and congrats of sorts, I wished I had a mirror with me yesterday that reflected the streets of Ethiopia. When people wished me Happy Mother's Day, I could've held it up and shown mothers who are so deserving of honor and support and yet live with nothing. Mothers who have had their dignity taken and yet they walk with beauty, pride, and love that inspires me to the core. I don't mean to sound ungrateful for the love that surrounded me...it was truly a sweet blessing! I just longed for ALL to receive the love and support I did.
Someone recently said to my husband, "I just don't understand how anyone could ever give up their child". No...we don't. We don't understand what it's like to watch your child wasting away, looking at you with hungry eyes, knowing that this cruel world provides no life or future for your precious little one. We cannot imagine. To me, the family members who made the decisions to give up M&H are my heroes! They made a decision I don't know I could've made...not because of some great love I have, but because of my own selfishness.
While pondering these things, I asked God why everything has to be so hard with adoption. Adoption is this intense blend of beauty and brokenness and I have found that both things only deepen with time. "Why can't there ever just be pure joy God?" I asked. Immediately in my heart, I heard God whisper, "this is pure joy." I was defining joy as the lack of pain, suffering, and brokenness. God reminded me to "count it all joy when you face trials of many kinds..." (James 1:2) So, amidst an emotional Mother's Day, my heart was bursting with joy and my face was soaked in tears. It was such a meaningful day and I pray God used it to strengthen me as a mother. All of these thoughts, emotions, and reminders brought forth gratitude and worship. So, I think I'll try to embrace this "tension" of living in brokenness and beauty, a fallen world yet a restored follower of Jesus, and suffering amidst great joy. I'm learning that this "tension" is continually right where I find God.
Mother's Day is quite a day; for some it's filled with smiles, flowers, and cards, for others it's filled with sadness and loss, and for some it's filled with heartache and unfulfilled desires. I think what God showed me is, that is okay. It's okay for such a wide variety of emotions and experiences on such a beautiful yet broken day. God knows all His children, can meet them where they're at, and breathe His pure joy right into the very center of each heart. God gave mothers to children and when that design is disrupted for whatever reason, it hurts. It hurts because God's design is so good.
My heart squeezed as I drove by a busy graveyard of grown children planting flowers to remember their beloved mothers, as I remembered those longing to be a mom to no avail, as I thought of empty wombs where life so prematurely ended, and as I saw mothers' empty arms because their children are already with Jesus. But, God is a God who restores. I've tasted it and the beautiful restorative side of all this pain is oh so real and good. God's writing all of our stories and if you're in the "tension" or even fully immersed in the brokenness of it all, hang on! We can put our hope in our God's character...and His is a character who delights to redeem and restore.
If you've never heard about Jerry and Christy Shannon's ministry, Embracing Hope Ethiopia, please check them out. They are doing incredible kingdom work in Ethiopia to encourage, honor, and strengthen mothers in Ethiopia. Here's the link, http://www.embracinghopeethiopia.com/
I'm so tremendously grateful that God chose me as Malachi and Hadassah's mommy:). We have 2 incredible children and are beyond blessed to be awaiting another Ethiopian cherub!!!!!