I heard this question a lot this past month.
And I struggled with my answer each and every time. An honest answer would have been, "Hard."
But I found myself shying away from being completely open and honest in my answer. Instead I would say such things as, "It's been great.", "I've learned so much.", "She's taught us so much."
In my mind was a battle. A battle between the raw, honest, raw truth and the safe, more socially acceptable response that I actually offered. In my mind was this dialogue:
If I tell you things have been hard you'll look at me like I'm a crazy person (which you may already think that I am) and say, "Well, then why are you doing this?" or "You don't have to continue hosting her" or "Are you still planning on pursuing her in adoption?" or "Maybe she's not the right fit for your family" or "Maybe this is God's way of showing you you're not called to adopt."Quite frankly, I didn't want to hear those comments or questions so I painted a prettier picture, was a little more vague, offered up fewer details.
Was I too concerned with the judgment of others in my response to their questions? Perhaps.
More than that though my response was driven by the fact that as a culture, particularly here in the confines of safe suburban America, we look in the face of "hard" and say "No thank you." We turn our backs from hard. We walk away from hard. We associate hard with bad.
If this month taught me nothing else (which isn't true, because it did) it's that we need more hard. We need to embrace hard as Jesus did. Hard is the only way to get to amazing...to joy...to abundance. I know because amazing, joy and abundance characterized our month of hard.
Hard is what happens when you welcome a child into your home and treat her as your own with so much love to give without knowing if that love will be desired, let alone returned. But you keep loving...keep pouring out.
Hard is what happens when you kiss the face of a child you've just met and tell her you love her because you really do even when you have no idea if she even knows what love is.
Hard is holding tight and rocking a 9 year old girl as if she were a baby because you don't know if she was every held or rocked when she should have been.
Hard is staring in the face the lies that you are not a good enough parent to your biological children so how could you be one to another child whose history you may never know.
Hard is trusting God when others question your motivation for hosting, your desire for an older child, your passion and love for a little girl you've never met.
Hard is letting go...of control, of comfort, of routine, of your girl.
In all the hard, God reveals Himself to be bigger, to be better, to be sovereign, to be the One to whom we cling.
And in that clinging comes joy, love and peace in abundance because He himself is joy, love and peace.
We get to joy by way of hard and if that's the only way to get there I want more hard. Hard isn't always fun, but it is necessary. It is what grows and changes us deep down to the core of who we are. Hard breaks us even when we don't think any more brokeness is possible.
And then joy replaces hard.
Joy is the face of awe you witness when she walks inside your home for the first time and sees a picture of herself framed with the rest of the family.
Joy is when your little girl looks you in the eyes and says, "I love you" with her sweet accent.
Joy is the feeling you get when she wraps her bony little arms around you with full abandon and won't let go because she has what she knows deep down she has always wanted...a mommy and daddy.
Joy is watching your biological children love her like their own sister even when she's not...yet.
Joy is when you give her a photo album of her time with your family, the first family she's ever known, and she pours over it with your daughter into the very late hours of the evening over and over again because she can't get enough of it and then wants to show it to everyone she sees.
Joy is knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that she'd rather be with you when she crosses the line through to security bawling in a way you never expected as she leaves with a promise that you will come to bring her home.
And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:3