Monthly Archives: July 2015

The Promise

“I didn’t marry you because you were perfect. I didn’t even marry you because I loved you. I married you because you gave me a promise. That promise made up for your faults. And the promise I gave you made up for mine. Two imperfect people got married and it was the promise that made the marriage. And when our children were growing up, it wasn’t a house that protected them; and it wasn’t our love that protected them – it was that promise.” -Thornton Wilder

We don’t care much for keeping promises in this day and age. Promises require time and precision and waiting and diligence and commitment and long suffering and patience. All the things a 21st century citizen hopes to avoid. Comfort and convenience are more our style. That’s why we like the drive-thru rather than the dining room, texting rather than talking, the microwave over the oven. We have a tendency to shy away from situations that are going to require more emotional energy than we feel we can spare.

We live in an age that has at its disposal more tools for efficiency than ever before. More apps designed to assist us, to help us be smarter, slicker, more savvy. Yet we are the most busy culture on the planet. Covered up with chaos. Stifled by inconsistency. We replace substance for shiny. We sing the praises of upstarts. We put their faces on the covers of magazines. We put longevity in the nursing home and feed it apple sauce. Like a child, we change the rules as we go along, especially when we don’t like the way the game is being played or when it stops advancing our singular agendas.

Doesn’t it stand to reason that with all of this intellectual development, technological support and evolutionary growth, we would be the culture who got it right? When those who would come after us opened up our yearbook, they would find we were voted Most Zen? Instead, we need an inordinate amount of counselors to console, pills to find peace, substances to soothe. We sacrifice our sons and daughters on the altar of technology every single day believing that somehow broadband will heal brokenness. We are the smartest fools that have ever lived.

Today, I’ve been married 14 years. A drop in the bucket compared to the many successful marriages I know and respect. But on this day, I made a promise. One that I, in my flawed humanity, was not capable of keeping. I cannot see a diet through to the end, much less a lifetime of monogamy. My husband, in turn, promised me what he could not deliver on his own. The kind of promise that is a reflection of a permanence fit only for worship. God deals in promises. They are His currency. He created the spiritual muscles that are strengthened while we wait. We don’t need the latest technological device. We need courage and accountability. We need resilience and persistence. We need faith and hope. Turns out, we have never needed an app for that.

 

Just Four Days

I thought I was pregnant four days before I got the call that changed my life forever; the call that introduced me to my grandest adventure. Baby Luca was waiting for Paul and me in Russia. I thought I was pregnant. Bloating, fatigue, unexplained nausea….pregnant. Pregnancy test taking…pregnant. For the 500th time…pregnant.

How do I remember this? Yesterday, I was cleaning out my saved emails, streamlining my life and eliminating some unnecessary clutter that at one time I felt invaluable. Links to receipts, sub-par recipes, long outdated teaching sites, all of which I expeditiously deleted. There, tucked in a folder eloquently named “Important Emails,” was a nondescript exchange with “Hey” in the subject heading. It was dated August 16, 2008. My dear friend Kathy had responded to my heart wrenching update on the torturous
discovery that I actually wasn’t pregnant . . . for the 500th time. The cruelty seemed unbearable. We had been waiting over two years for an adoption from Russia to materialize. The political climate was tenuous. A potential U.S. involvement in the Georgia conflict had once again put the adoption relationship between America and Russia in jeopardy. The fear of another shutdown was real and imminent. Oh, the desperation, the faithlessness, the despair. I can recall those emotions so easily, like an old neighborhood I used to live in.

So, I thought I was pregnant. Kathy responded:

“I get it. But don’t think that you are being ridiculous for taking a pregnancy test…the
possibility is not impossible nor unbiblical.”

My struggle, in my own mind, had reached old testament proportions. This was punishment, clear and simple. We had been trying for six years by this date, both biologically and through adoption. Nothing had ever come back to us but emptiness…empty crib, empty rocking chair, empty womb. I felt as if I were staring into an eternal abyss of darkness. Spiritual bankruptcy.

Four days later I would be a mom. Just four days separated me from a dream realized. Four simple days. Kathy continued:

“This too, shall pass . . . good times are ahead. A beautiful baby lies behind a curtain for now but not indefinitely. This wait will become a faded memory.”

Actually, the wait would become a faded memory in just four days.  Four days later I would be crying tears of joy.  Four days later I would be running around the school where I taught, darting into classrooms,  screaming that my proverbial water had broken.  Four days later I would be gazing into the eyes of a two month old, a 4×4 image of my little boy.  Four days later I would be celebrating with my husband.  Four days later I would be purchasing airplane tickets, making last-minute preparations, and planning for my first trip to Russia.  Just four days.

God wasn’t absent.  He wasn’t refusing to answer my endless petitions.  He wasn’t labeling me defective.  He wasn’t powerless to produce life where there was only death.  He just wasn’t ready yet.  My baby wasn’t ready yet.  I was asking for Act II.  He was still writing Act I.

This life is really unpredictable.  This world is excruciatingly fickle.  The foundations that we rely upon in the temporal eventually feel more like quicksand than concrete.  We can so easily get lost in the despair of uncertainty.  Where is God?  He shows up in the voices of our friends, in the quiet moments of confidence, in the strength that we find when we think we can no longer push on.  While I wrote that email to Kathy, He was sitting there with me, wiping the tears from my eyes, pushing my hair out of my face, cupping my chin in His hand, lifting my vision heavenward.  Yet, I couldn’t feel Him.  He was comforting my impetuous desire, my impatience to have what I wasn’t ready for . . . for what wasn’t ready for me.  Yet, I didn’t really trust Him.  What if our life on this planet in time and space resembles just four days in the face of eternity?  Why do we so often live on the edge of desperation, when we know the end of the story?  Why don’t we trust His providential timing when He proves over and over again never to be late?  I don’t have the answers.  I just have the questions.  I guess I will find out in just four days.