The summer sun shone bright through the window in our living room and I eased myself into my favorite chair. It'd been a little over 48 hours since we heard the news that the birth mom would keep her son and every muscle and joint ached as if I carried the weight of a thousand moons.
My friend watched me, a small smile curving her lips. My husband came and sat next to me and piddled with his phone. I don't remember what we were talking about, I just remember mentioning something about "not knowing what's what" and feeling disconnected from the truth I felt so attached to a week ago.
She caught my eye then. "Do you want to talk about it?"
My face broke into a tight smile and I shrugged. "I mean, we can but I don't know what I would say. We were sure, and then we were wrong. How do I even know which way is up anymore?"
She cleared her throat.
I pushed down the feeling overtaking my chest: the way grief could unfurl at a moment's notice wasn't new to me, but the strength of this particular strand took my breath away. I focused on the sun's rays dropping through the blinds.
Stay in the light. Stay in the light. Stay in the light. I repeated to myself like a mantra, fingering the bottom hem of my shirt as if they were beads. My friend's voice broke through the silence.
"I don't know how to even categorize this situation, because I heard things too. I believed with you. But I see you in this hallway, and God pointing toward the end saying there. Go there. And you walking toward the light, imagining your destination is so close. When you get to the end though, He says now turn left. And you're left disoriented because wasn't this the end? Wasn't this where He wanted you to go? And it was. You weren't wrong in anything you heard these past few months. He just has more for you to walk. Your ending is actually in a hallway around the corner, and in order to get there, you had to walk down this hallway first."
"Maybe that doesn't make sense. Maybe I'm talking out of my ass. That's just been a picture I haven't been able to get out of my head these past few days as I've wondered, what the hell, God?"
This picture changed everything for me.
In a world of this just wasn't God's will and your child is out there and He takes us through these tests for a reason, my friend offered me an explanation of I don't know—but I do know He sees you.
And that made a world of difference for a faith that was hanging by a thread.
My life with my husband has always been nothing short of heading down a certain road so we can take a right and at the last minute we realize we need to take a sharp left.
Two years into our marriage, we thought we were moving to San Diego for community. We'd live near our friends, open up a Building 826, and I would serve as the liaison between the center and area schools. We wanted to begin a partnership with students in Haiti and students here, writing books for each other and building relationships with communities across the world. The ideas we had were monumental and beautiful and ground-shaking. I knew we'd get there. I knew we'd be involved some way.
And then Russ lost his job, and we landed in Austin.
I remember the first night we went out after we moved here. I remember driving with the windows down and feeling the cool breeze on my arms and allowing the beauty of the hill country to completely envelop me. I remember thinking I'm on an adventure with the love of my life.
Nothing made sense. I was the girl who said, "I would never live in Austin" and now here we were....living here and loving every second of those first few months. I was commuting an hour to and from work, he didn't have a job and was in school, and we put a majority of our groceries on credit cards but dammit if we didn't have a pathway to walk. We finally knew where we were going.
We joined a local church community about to plant, and became worship leaders. Russ finished out school, and started looking for a job.
Seven months into our life in a new city, we were fired from our position at the church. That Sunday, the pastors told the community it had been our choice.
We were sent reeling. New Years Eve we cried in each other's arms and kicked the door closed on a season we thought held so much promise. Within a week, we crashed into another church community and felt fed. Connected. Healed.
We got involved with inner city youth ministry. We moved into the neighborhood our church focused on for restoration. We went to Africa with ten teenagers.
We took in an 18 year old senior who'd stolen our hearts.
And in the fall, when we looked at him and told him we were adopting from Ethiopia, he broke into a pop and lock and smiled.
"I don't care where you guys adopt from, moms. I just want to be in charge of my little brother or sister's wardrobe."
We laughed and agreed.
Six months after that, the romantic notions we held about moving nto an area for the intent of redemption fell flat. We moved out of the home we thought we'd one day purchase and into an apartment with another couple. Our surrogate son went home with his biological mother in Arkansas. We dropped out of the Ethiopian program and found a home at a domestic agency out of Houston.
Sharp left. Sharp left. Sharp left.
And now? Three years later?
I thought I'd have a book deal. Or rather, I thought the book deal I did have would have led to other offers. I thought I would have written another book by now. I thought we'd be parents by now.
I thought a lot of things, but I wouldn't change anything.
These sharp lefts leave me breathless and sometimes produce an ache in my bones that lasts for days. But, there's not many other moments in which I feel more alive—more human. I spend my hours looking inward and relying on the Spirit to show me where to go. Where I often stumble? When I go too far. When I suppose. When I say tomorrow I will do this or ten years will mean this.
I mean, these past few years have just about sent me over the edge with when we'd become parents. I spent every waking moment not making decisions because "one day, and surely before that time, we'll have a kid." I can't think about the opportunities I said no to out of fear or expectation. It suffocates me.
But now? Now I know: I can hope. I can dream, even. But the only thing I can do is the next step He's given me.
Sometimes, this just means a whole lotta sharp lefts.