“The poor and homeless are desperate for water, their tongues parched and no water to be found. But I’m there to be found, I’m there for them, and I, God of Israel, will not leave them thirsty.” – Isaiah 41:17 (MSG)
Normally, book club was a highlight of my month, well at least a bright spot of adult conversation on my otherwise child-focused calendar. But then life happened in a super big way. The kind of life that lifts you off your feet and dumps you upside-down in the middle of a desert, seemingly devoid of any sort of help, nourishment, or rest.
After living through several months in that desert, reading “just for fun” wasn’t particularly high on my to-do list. Funny how quickly worry and fear can crowd out any sort of hope or joy if we let them. In fact, if left to fester, both will merge into one giant monster that beats us up and leaves us a mere shell of ourselves.
So I didn’t even read the book. I just went to the meeting to get out of the house. After six months of the aforementioned “life,” I was feeling the effects of stress. I’d lost weight because all food tasted like nothing, stopped socializing with anyone, and spent hours staring into space, mentally writing the worst possible ending to our story.
Only the host, a faithful friend, and one other woman who was new to our book club showed up on this particular evening. After exchanging pleasantries, we made small talk for just a few minutes before it came up. “How is your daughter?” my good friend gently questioned.
I gave the same response I’d been giving for months, “I honestly have no idea.”
She waited briefly before probing further, “And how are you?” For some reason—I don’t know if it was the way she said it or just the day I’d had—the question felt like the first real invitation I’d had in awhile and something spilled over inside me. Instead of giving my normal “fine” that evening, the floodgates opened.
“How am I? How am I, really? I’m exhausted. Depressed. Scared. And you know what else? I’m angry. I’ve been begging God to give me someone to walk with through this ordeal. I want to know that another parent has been through this and survived. I want someone who can say, ‘I understand,’ but really mean it. And yet, here I am. Still walking this road alone.”
Silence followed that diatribe, all except for the sounds of my pain.
“God can handle your anger. Have you told him how you feel?” my wise friend prompted.
“Ha! That’s the ironic part, because I’ve been talking to God a whole lot more these past few months. He’s pretty much the only one I can talk to about it.” I told her.
“So then, maybe that’s his point? You’re not alone, Wendy. Maybe he hasn’t brought you another mom to share your pain because he wants you to share it with him? And perhaps he wants you to feel this… really feel this… so you can walk with others later.”
I stopped crying and stared at her. One part of me was saying, “Duh!” all while the other part—my human, selfish flesh—wanted to scream at the thought of being alone, only with God.
I was craving another mom, just like me, with whom I could commiserate. I wanted someone like that for two reasons. First, the turmoil in our lives made me feel like a failure. I thought if I could see someone else who’d been through a similar experience, I wouldn’t feel so broken and so alone. Second, I needed to see that my current circumstances weren’t insurmountable…
If that weren’t enough, I was also mourning the fact that I couldn’t fix it myself, that things weren’t going according to my plan. I was carrying a pretty heavy load.
And throughout it all,
God was saying… wait.
Be patient, my child.
I love you and your family more than you can comprehend.
I have not left you, nor will I ever.
I will use this for my glory.
Your pain will not be wasted.
You are strong; you are capable, with me as your guide.
And if you let me, I’ll carry your load.
This was my contribution to Faith, Hope & Connection: A 30-day Devotional for Adoptive & Foster Parents.