Culture

July 05 2013
27

2013-07-02 11.32.08

The day before it happened, I received an email with a good word from God. ​In it, the sender let me know he’d received a vision of me speaking to a group of people—slender, poised and smiling. It was clear I was on a mission, he said, and as soon as that vision appeared, this person heard God say He had plans to use me.

There was just one catch. I had to get rid of the unforgiveness in my heart.​

Until then, I wasn’t really hearing His voice. Until then, I would believe Satan’s lies. I would minister out of my pain.​

​The next morning, Russ and I woke up to pictures of who we thought was our son. “Fat-full and happy,” the text read. We stayed in bed and giggled and touched the screen as if it were the next closest thing to actually caressing his face.

We spent the day putting together swings and strollers and finalizing things in the nursery. I packed the diaper bags and laid out his first nightie on the changing table. That night, we traveled to my parents​’ so we could borrow their car on the trip to get him the next day. The closest phrase I can use to describe that day was deep-soul peace.

At least, until that evening.

​The call came after Russ went outside with dad to find the carseat latches in the seats.  I looked at my mom and she clutched her hands together, sticking them in between her legs. Right before I answered, I looked at her and whispered this makes me nervous. She widened her eyes, echoing my anxiety, and bounced her feet against the carpet.

I toyed with the hem of my shirt as I listened to the voice on the other end.

“Elora, I’ve been thinking and praying and wondering all day and I just gotta…I just gotta say. I think I was scared.” The birth mom’s voice halted and skipped and my heart crashed along side the breaks. This wasn’t her calling to tell us just to come. This wasn’t good news. I knew that as soon as I heard her voice.​

And then she paused and I heard her smile. “Please don’t hate me. Please. Please don’t hate me. But…I’m keeping him.” ​

I swallowed to keep from screaming. I placed my hand on my chest, as if pressing in would stop the pain, and my mom caught the shallow breathing and got up from her seat across the room and sat down next to me, grabbing my hand in hers.

“How can I hate you?” I asked, more for my own benefit then her, really. I heard the front door open and my dad and Russ burst through the hallway laughing. I’ll remember that moment forever. Two knowing, and two having no idea.​

Things are a blur after that, but I remember staying on the phone for an excruciating amount of time as my mom got up and pulled my dad into the kitchen. She started crying. Russ leaned his hands against the counter and dropped his head. ​I kept thinking, “how could I hate her? How do I respond to this? How does one make it through this type of news? And twice?”

I wanted nothing more than to shatter into a million pieces, each broken bit screaming my discontent. I wanted to thrash. I wanted to punch things. I wanted to curl into a ball and weep. I wanted so many things but knew nothing of what I needed.

Instead, I hung up the phone and stared at my feet, ​He gives good gifts He gives good gifts ​echoing through my mind like some harsh joke. My mom came and sat next to me, pulling me into her embrace. I lost it. Holding on to Russ with my other hand, I let the tears fall, hoping some how, some way, they would wash away the past year.

When we got home, we threw the baby things in the closet-made-nursery-now-closet-again. Russ pulled me close to him as we went to bed and I thought of the last twelve hours. Of how we can wake up with the world beginning and fall asleep with it crashing around us.

I never fell asleep that night. ​

//​

It’s been a month since the world fell out from beneath us. A week after our adoption fell through, Russ was passed over for a promotion he deserved at work. We just need one win, God. ​I wrote in my journal. Just one win. 

//​

We went back to the beach this past week. There’s nothing more healing than for me to sit on the shores of Mama Ocean, and Russ knows this, so we pinched and pulled until we were able to manage a few nights in a small coastal town a few hours away.​ We went last summer and as we drove into town, it looked as if the year had been just as harsh to the surroundings as it had been on us. Broken down buildings. Closed up restaurants. Bent and collapsed piers.

All pressed up against the bay. Calm. Waiting. I stared out into the horizon, trying to find where the sky met the water. The lines were all a blur. I thought about our seventh year of marriage, how it was supposed to be the year of jubilee, how at the beginning it held such hope and promise and excitement and now all those lines were a blur in my past, pressed up against a whole lot of brokenness and disappointment.

But there had to be a beginning somewhere, right? At some point, one line ends and another takes its place?

//

It wasn’t until our last night there I felt the swift touch of the One who a little over a year ago asked will you just let Me father you? For the majority of the past month, I’d heard a lot of silence coming from His side of things. And I knew enough about Him to know that didn’t necessarily mean disapproval, but it still made me wonder. It still made me ache.

​We were on a sunset cruise. The captain raced across the bay, the winds making the waves choppy and our muscles taut as we hung on to the railings. And then, he stopped. Just like that, we were wind-whipped and in awe of the silence. To our left was an island full of birds and to our right, the big red ball in the sky dipping low to kiss the shore.

​I was reminded then of the Silence. A month ago, I scratched in my journal how the hell is this ​Fathering? How am I supposed to hear You now? What the fuck, ​God? Am I supposed to get up after this? Am I supposed to trust you after this? I felt wind-whipped. I felt bruised and battered and broken. And I was so, so tired of holding on for dear life.

In those moments after the birth mom called me, I remembered the email I received the day before and wondered if this was what it meant. I wondered if it was true. I wondered if the second broken placement was a penance of some sort for the unforgiveness I held on to, for the ways I’ve placed boundaries around my heart, for the moments I’ve refused to talk with people for fear of manipulation. I whispered then, the tears falling fast and hot on the pages, “is this my fault?”

I felt Him then.​ It was a quick caress of the cheek. It was a turning of my head to find His gaze. It was those hands finding my own and gripping tight.

“I’m here and I hear. I’ve been here. I’ve been sitting beside you, weeping with you. This—everything you’ve experienced—it’s not you. And it’s not My heart for you. I know you don’t understand and that’s okay. I’m angry too. And I’m here. Even in the silence, I sit with you.”

​And as I watched the sun dip low this past week, I felt Him brush up beside me as my heart thudded to a halt. Birds sang and flew all around me. The water resonated with the pink-orange glow of the horizon. And there, straight ahead and right underneath the sunset, was the line separating the end of the bay and the beginning of the night sky.

It was almost as if I could see His smile.

//​

I’m not enough of a theologian to put this past month into a perspective that’s clean enough to wrap these words into a clever point. But I know there’s something to believing lies and ministering out of pain and living with unforgiveness. I know now that no one really knows my heart—not really. No one has the ability to step in and speak into what I have or have not forgiven. And if I do speak, I still want it to be holy and broken. I want to find this pain and minster out of it because it’s through His own broken body we find our healing. I pray that in moments of human frailty, I’ll remember Who sits with us in the silence, when words fail and our hearts are breaking in a million pieces. I may not have all the answers. But I know He can take our weakness. I know He can hold our brokenness and our anger and the questions of “how could I hate her?” and “how the fuck am I supposed to get through this?”

Because the One who drew in the sand and caused the thud of grace to echo in fallen stones will somehow point us to the line in the horizon where we’re able to see the hint of a beginning.

And when our child comes home, whenever it happens, we can point back to these moments of confusion and pain and breathless anticipation and whisper, “see? It was always you. Always.”

27 comments

  1. Kreine

    Oh, Elora, I’m so sorry for your loss. (And I believe it is a loss; he was already the child of your heart when everything changed.)

    It’s funny, isn’t it, how we want friends to just be with us, not necessarily offering platitudes or advice during times of grief. Yet, when God deigns to sit with us in silence and share our pain, we rail against Him for not doing or saying anything. (I’m speaking more to myself here. I’ve been very angry at the Silence.)

    Thank you for being willing to share yourself and your pain, even when you’re still raw & bleeding.

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  2. Oh, this was beautiful and true and honest. My heart literally hurt for you guys as I read it. I love where you landed . . . in hope somehow. In looking UP, somehow. In feeling Fathered, somehow.

    I’m in your corner and I am deeply grateful you have shared this with the world today, Elora.

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  3. Beautiful. Such beauty and honesty. A mix of sorrow, joy, resignation and hope, which is what life is all about.

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  4. Amy Graham

    Oh Elora, tears of sadness and hurt flowed down my face as I read. I too have been through this (almost exact) situation, twice. We have two beautiful children through adoption and are currently waiting for our third (and final), but the bumps along the way have been so painful, hard, and confusing. My heart aches for you to hold the baby God intends for your family in your arms. While going through our first adoption we had a broken placement initially and it was so difficult to walk through, but when we got our Elijah (not too long after the broken placement), I knew he was meant for our family. Now, at almost 5 years old, I can’t imagine him NOT being a part of our family. The thought of having any other child but him, now makes my heart ache. So, cling to the shred of promise and hope as you continue to wait for that child that God “always” intended for you. He or she will come and you will one day be able to say, “now, I know.” My prayers and heart go out to you as you continue to wait!

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  5. So beautiful. Thank you for being willing to share such a painful moment.

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  6. Elora, so much eloquent beauty and pain written in these words. Thank you for letting us in. For sharing such a deep and private ordeal. I hope the writing of it, was helpful to your tender heart. And I thank you for reminding me that my Father-God “Hears and is here.” That is a power-packed phrase right there!
    Susie

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  7. Stacy

    Very transparent and that is rare today-especially among those who call themselves followers of Christ. In November of 2003 our daughter and only child(who had been conceived after 10 years of barrenness and one unsuccessful adoption attempt)passed away. I felt many of the things you mention in this posting. Seeing the new horizon was very hard but eventually the clouds clear enough to see a glimpse of it and you can make the decision to trust again in what you do not always understand. In May of 2007 a friend asked us if we would be open to adoption of her niece’s baby. In August we brought our daughter home. She will never replace what I’ve lost but in His time He restored joy to my heart. I pray this for you as well.

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  8. Lindsey Hartz

    Sweet Elora – I have walked a similar journey this past month with some things very precious to me. While the circumstances are not exactly the same, I think the conclusion I finally came to applies here to you.

    My faithfulness and obedience (or lack thereof) were nothing – inconsequential even – without complete surrender to Him…His timing, His will, His way.

    So very hard, but once I got that…understood that I have ABSOLUTELY NO CONTROL and saw that as FREEDOM instead of God saying no…true peace has reigned in my heart over those things so precious to me.

    Love you.
    Lindsey

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  9. Thank you, Elora for you honesty. My heart went out to you. My womb too is barren. I have two adopted children: one from Indiana (called Matthew for “gift of God) and one from Turkey (Named Seher but we call her Cheri – my beloved). We’ve struggled without them and struggled with them. The best part is He who fathers us fathers them. The mystery of faith is that He’s working just there, under the surface and out of our reach, for our good. Always for our good.

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  10. Oh Elora. the day that i messaged you about your adoption and heard back from you…my heart sunk deep. I know that I can’t feel what you’ve been through, but I knew the joy that had brought to you and Russ. thank you for sharing your journey through the silence, through the questions, through the living with pain…and wanting it to be anything but THIS place. Thank you for sharing…that he sits besides us…even when in silence we are so sure that we’ve been abandoned.

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  11. All I have is tears…

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  12. Tara

    I hate that you’ve been in such deep pain. I hate when our hopes get squashed and for a time we feel nothing but cold, dark, sorrow. I hate how hard it is to climb back out after devestating events. I hate how complicated life is, and how it never seems to give us much of a break from complication. I am so sorry you were hurt.
    I once made a similar call to an adoptive couple and it was painful and confusing on both ends of the line. Prayers for you and for God to give you the desires of your heart and to grow your family.

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  13. elora, so much love for you and yours. praying with you.

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  14. The glory, the wonder, the splendor and they mystery…for some reason you’ve been invited into deeper chambers than most. And the blessing of it all is that those of us who get to read of your journey– the pain and agony as well as the joy and sunshine– we are the beneficiaries being birthed by you deeper into Him. Thank you. This is a lovely thing.. your pain is not wasted.

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  15. bp

    I am a birth mom. My son’s parent’s are twenty years older then MY parents. In other words, they were old enough to be his GRANDparents when they got him.

    He was the child they waited on their whole youth.

    and he was a handful. He was their ONLY child, and he needed them, ALL of them, ALL of the time.

    I didn’t meet him till he was 26, and i can’t tell you how much i love his parents. They were so perfect for him.

    Your baby is waiting for you. I believe that.

    I hope you do too.

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  16. Janine

    Thank you Sister for this post.
    We have also suffered the loss of children and I know how heartbreaking and world shaking and doubt feeding that time afterwards can be.
    I thank you because of your honesty and rawness. You have put into words feelings that I failed to understand, let alone explain. About God and myself.
    So thank you and may our Father bless you and keep you and shine upon you.

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  17. Oh, dear Elora. How beautiful this writing is, filled with pain and struggle and downright railing against heaven and all that feels as though it conspires against us in this veil of tears. Thank you for each word, for each tear that fell in the making and telling of this hard story. But thank you, too, for hanging on and hanging in and wrestling hard and waiting for the blessing. It’s coming – I can smell it in the wind. May you be blessed in the waiting – and given glimpses of that new horizon exactly when you need them.

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  18. Bless you, this is beautiful! Heart-wrenching, real, and full of hope that Immanuel is indeed the One who is near, holding us, as we cling for dear life.

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  19. You did indeed speak it holy and broken.

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  20. Prayers to you and your family, Elora! I cannot thank you enough for sharing this post. It’s spoken deeply and directly to my soul. Thank you.

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  21. Carmen

    I am hurting for you. Also, you and your writing are beautiful.

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  22. Oh, friend. I learn so much from you. I’ve been keeping you and Russ in my prayers. I’m with you and for you.

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  23. Nicole joshua

    My heart aches for you. May you find strength and peace in God’s presence during this painful time. Thank you for sharing your rawness and pain, for giving other people permission to lament in the face of their pain.

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  24. E, you know I got you. Prayers are still being said every time I feel a tiny bit of that inner ache of sadness of what you are still facing. thank you for sharing your story here so bravely and beautifully. you are an amazing woman of faith. xo

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  25. Thank you for sharing your heart. I believe with all of mine that if God is real and there, if he is who he says he is, then he HAS to be big enough to handle all the rage I can throw at him in my anguish. I know the feeling of the silence–and I have been hearing nothing but silence from him for a long time: almost 2 years now. Still I cling to the hope, now worn pretty thin, that someday soon he will show up with something to say and a touch I can feel and a gift that is GOOD.

    I’m so sorry for your dreadful and heartbreaking loss. I cannot understand why the hurts and horrors are not more evenly portioned out in life. No one should have to experience such pain at all, let alone more than once. I know that agonized bafflement well. After two miscarriages, the pregnancy we thought would finally bring a living child ended in even worse horror: a stillbirth. After a lifetime of believing in God and walking with him, I don’t know where he went or what to think about him. I have held my dead son in my arms and I can never go back to the person I used to be. I can only hope that the person this turns me into will find some peace, and good, and will hear from God again.

    I am too afraid to pray, these days–but I wish peace and goodness for you, too, and your dreams fulfilled.

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  26. Sometimes we have no words and that is perfectly alright.
    Sometimes the waiting room is a hard place to be in, the silence is deafening and the ticking of time, our enemy.
    God is doing a good work even when we don’t see it or feel it.
    You will get a child, there are many who wait for mom’s and dad’s.
    God is preparing the right one to come into your home and he is doing a quiet work as you wait in your tears.

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  27. I kept thinking of this song by Sanctus Real as I read through your post:

    “I’d rather speak honestly and wear a tattered heart on my sleeve
    ‘Cause in the middle of my broken dreams, redemption is here

    And I’m still a dreamer, a believer
    Oh, I’ve lost my faith in so many things, but I still believe in You”

    So sorry for your loss. I’ve never lived through those exact circumstances, but I’ve been at a place of saying, “What the heck, God?” and the pain hurts. A lot. Now that I’m not in that place anymore, I sometimes miss it… not the pain, but my sweet reliance on Him as I fired question after question and He simply held me with gentleness and let me question.

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