While driving home from work on Friday, I was thinking about everything that has happened in my life over the last three years on this journey to our son. I was in the middle of considering all that I have endured over these incredibly long and difficult years, and the Lord stopped me right there.
These are not things I have endured. These are things that, through the sovereign grace of God, I have overcome. There is an enormous difference between those two words and all that they imply.
So much of our adoption journey has left me feeling as though I have merely survived. Like I am dragging my bruised and bloodied self toward the finish line where I will collapse in a heap and say, "I made it." But that is absolutely not what God is doing. Yes, He is allowing me to experience things I NEVER thought this life would bring me. Yes, this path to our son has been the single most difficult thing God has ever asked me to do. Yes, there have been MANY days when I wanted to completely give up and walk away because it was all just too hard. And it would be so easy (and would be my natural inclination) to sit here tonight and tell you that by the grade of God I have SURVIVED these things.
But I haven't.
I have overcome them.
Now, that is not me tooting my own horn. My horn went out the window (along with my expectations) a LONG time ago. There is simply nothing left to boast about, save for the awesome power of God through the blood of Jesus Christ. I look back at the last three years of my life, and I fully and completely see that God has brought me to where I am IN SPITE of me, not because of me. And He alone has allowed me to OVERCOME the trials and obstacles this life has brought. That is huge.
To overcome something is to move past it in victory. And when I look at this journey to my son, that is what I see behind me. A loooooong path of twists, turns and pits that have not merely been survived. They have been overcome. Let's look at some of them.
Attacks on my marriage. If there was one thing about this adoption process that came completely out of left field for me, it is how much this would impact my marriage. Wanting kids, adopting, meeting deadlines that seem to hold the fate of your family in their hands… Those are tough things. Aching to hold your child, to see his face. Those are things that seem impossible to bear. And my husband is the lucky soul who got to live with me through all of it. He has seen the good, the bad and the unspeakably ugly. Whenever someone tells me that I am handling this so well, I politely suggest that they run that by Adam. He might be singing a different song. But God has been so, so, SO faithful to us in this. Our marriage has withstood some fiery trials and some not so graceful moments (almost exclusively on my behalf) and has come out on the other side stronger than I ever thought possible. Deciding to adopt is no small thing. You are handing over the future of your family, and the process is a long one. You have to decide together that you are willing to stand firm through whatever comes your way, that you will stay together and fight for your child together and pray together and believe together that God has called you to this. Before this, Adam and I stood face to face in love. Now, we also stand side by side in battle, willing and ready to do whatever it takes to protect and provide for our family. We have stared some of the darkest adversity in the face and refused to give in. We have cast our burdens on the Lord, and He has carried us. None of this was done in our own strength. Not at all. God's grace and love and mercy have flooded into our lives and our marriage, and we we have overcome what seemed impossible.
Attacks on my faith. Oh, this is a deep one. I have never, not once in my life, doubted God. Then we started our adoption. At so many points throughout this journey it has felt like I was totally and completely alone. Like God was nowhere to be found. And I was left to figure out if God is, in fact, who I have always believed Him to be. There were dark days, my friends. Days when I felt so certain that I had been abandoned. Days when I cried out to God begging for Him to say something, anything. And on many of those days, in His infinite wisdom, God remained silent. He chose to let me rediscover Him for myself. He never let me go, never let me out of His sight or out of the reach of His almighty hand. But He did let me take a long, hard look at my own heart and my faith. He let me search my soul and His Word to see if He is the One True God, sovereign and incomprehensibly good. I doubted, feared, cried, raged and begged. And He let me. He let me experience all of those things. He let me experience all of those things so that when I came up on the other side, I would know beyond the shadow of any doubt that He is EXACTLY who He says He is. He helped me overcome my doubt and my fear, my anger and my hurt. And He showed me that He has been right here with me all along.
I have said it before. God has met NONE of my expectations. But He has surpassed them all. He has helped me not just survive the trials of the adoption journey and of life in general, really. He has showed me how to overcome them. I am still working on it, believe me. There are days when I have to coach myself, "My son is coming home. God will bring him home. He is ours, and God is in this." So I am not perfect by any stretch, but God has shown me, through this incredible thing called adoption, that I can be more than a survivor; I can be an overcomer.
And you can, too! I don't know what your trial is, what the thing is that God has asked you to do. But I know that if He has indeed called you to it, then He will equip you for it. There will be days when you feel like you are just surviving. I have had too many of those to count, but He is strengthening you for something greater. And when you get to the other side, you will get to look back and say, "Look at what God has allowed me to overcome." And it is my hope that your heart will swell with gratitude, because being an overcomer means that God is training you up for something incredible.