On October 31, 2009, I stepped into our local FedEx office and handed the clerk five and a half months of eagerness, determination, and hope wrapped up in a two-inch-thick folder. Six weeks later, when my computer screen confirmed that folder’s arrival in Kigali, Rwanda, I wanted to climb up on the roof and scream to the world that the McLennans were finally DTR.
That was a mountaintop moment. “Gotcha Day” will be another. But in between these mountains lies a deep valley known as Waiting, and you can’t move from one peak to another without passing that way.
Waiting is a place of diverse terrain, sometimes dark and despairing, other times beautiful and serene. From a distance the valley appears calm, even stagnant. But all who travel there will tell you that Waiting is a battleground, and the enemy’s name is Deceit.
Deceit whispers many lies in the ears of travelers, some of which are cleverly disguised to sound like wisdom, hope, or noble conviction. The key to a successful journey is recognizing those lies for what they are, and listening for Truth’s response.
Following is a partial transcript of this traveler’s ongoing battle with Deceit in the Valley of Waiting:
1. “Harmless Distraction,” a.k.a. Wasting Time
Deceit whispers: Waiting doesn’t have to be so hard. Distract yourself—watch more television, keep your calendar full, make lots of plans. Time will pass more quickly if you’re too busy to think.
Truth responds:“…suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope…” (Romans 5:3b-4). There is pain in Waiting, but also great reward. Instead of burying yourself in distraction, choose to be still. Allow hours of stillness to open your eyes to hidden stains of pride in your thought life, your fear of surrender, lack of faith, and desire for praise from others. Choose stillness, and you will be better able to discern the voice of Him who leads you.
2. “Conviction,” a.k.a. Self-Righteousness
Deceit whispers:Vacations, new cars, eating out…those people obviously aren’t losing sleep over the orphans of the world. The money for their daily trip to Starbucks could go a long way toward your adoption expenses…
Truth responds: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3) Do you have food in your pantry? Have “leftovers” ever been a phenomenon in your home? Cease your complaints and comparisons, and beware of your misdirected pride in having less than some. Frugality is wise, but it doesn’t make you holy. Neither does adopting make you holy. Surrender your pride and echo the prayer of the repentant heart, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
3. “Optimism,” a.k.a. Idealizing the Future
Deceit whispers: Waiting is the hardest part of adoption. Everything will be better when your baby is home.
Truth responds: “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1). You dream of holding your little one close, rocking him to sleep, soothing every cry and loving away every fear. Are you doing this with the children you already have? Are you cherishing your husband, family, and friends…or are you losing ground to selfishness and pride? Rather than dreaming of a brighter future, devote yourself to loving others better today.
4. “Staying Informed,” a.k.a. Looking for Hope in All the Wrong Places:
Deceit whispers:Spend more time reading blogs, scouring chat groups, listening for rumors. The more information you can find, the better you’ll feel.
Truth responds:“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). Rumors are shifting shadows. Even the most sincere promises from trustworthy friends are shifting shadows. There is only one unchanging source of hope, and your adoption timeline rests in His hands alone.
5. “Realism,” a.k.a. Being a Victim
Deceit whispers: This wait is eternal, and there’s nothing you can do about it. You’re helpless, totally at the mercy of a foreign government.
Truth responds: “When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way” (Psalm 142:3). You are not waiting on Rwanda, you are waiting on God. He is good, He knows your heart, He loves your child, and He is faithful. Therefore, wait with hope, make room for stillness, and invest your energy in proactive ways—chronicle your journey, befriend other adoptive families, learn about your child’s birth country. Turn your eyes from yourself to others. Address the needs in front of you today, and leave tomorrow in God’s hands.
Remember, fellow travelers: Deceit’s end-game is confusion and discouragement. The enemy may not be able to prevent us from crossing the valley, but he can lead us down dangerous paths that bypass the many beauties of Waiting. Be vigilant, and remember that no matter what the enemy whispers in your ear, one thing is certain—Truth always has an answer. So as you walk, consume Truth, speak Truth, meditate upon Truth. Keep your eyes on the Word of Truth, for “your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105).
Until we meet on the mountaintop…