Thursday, March 3, 2011

Books for the Wait: Calm My Anxious Heart

I LOVE this book. Let me set up this review by sharing a little more about where I was at when God put a copy in my hand.

I am not naturally anxious. I tend to be the glass-half full. But half-way through our first adoption I found my self in the deep end of the anxiety pool. It was our first adoption and I had no idea the story might end any other way than bringing our baby home.

We lost our referral eight months into our wait. After a few weeks of much prayer and taking stock, we concluded God was still calling us to adopt. So we started waiting again and brought home Mercy four months later.

That first adoption was one of the most deeply spiritual times of my life. I have never felt God so tangibly near, so Immanuel. I was in Korea at the time without my husband, who was at home with our daughter. I had a mental image of Moses coming down off Mount Sanai aglow with God and looked around the room in Korea, thinking surely God's presence was so powerful that others were seeing what I was seeing. But nobody apparently sensed God with us. Nobody was worshipping. Except me, in my heart, through buckets of tears.

The experience did not shake my faith; it proved it. But experientially finding what my mind already knew to be true, that God is faithful, did not exempt my heart from from human emotions like anxiety, grief, and depression. Instead, God taught me what he meant when he promised, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you..." (Isaiah 43:2) When you pass through the waters. When is part of the promise.

It is no exaggeration to say I approached our next adoption with fear and trembling. The emotional template set for "adoption" in my mind and heart the first time was what my grandmother would have called "a doozy."

God must have laughed at my plan for the second wait: I'd let the time tick away on the calendar. But I wasn't going to mark time in my heart until four weeks before we were told to expect our travel call. Four weeks was plenty of time to let myself fall in love with my baby and if I saved my to-do list until then I'd have lots to keep me busy in those last few hardest weeks of the wait.

But as I said, God laughed. With no warning, he sent Hope's travel call ten weeks earlier than we were expecting it.

I can say one thing: I experienced zero situational anxiety during that wait. I wasn't even "waiting" yet. (Although I can't recommend that tactic for reasons I share in another post someday.)

After Hope came home, for several years we felt very sure our call to adopt was a time-limited thing that God had allowed to naturally expire. The rules for Koran adoption said so and our family life said so. Our hands were full. That was the point at which I really began to connect with other moms who had, or who were in the process of adopting from Korea. At that same time, I first heard the idea that there might be an adoption-specific form of Situational Anxiety.

So when God surprised us with the news that Joy would  be joining our family, I was forewarned about the emotional road my heart was likely to head down and how impossible it would be to find myself there with three, soon to be four, children and a husband dependent upon me. But I was also armed with new information: the word "anxiety."

I knew I was looking for a scriptually sound, theologically meaty book that was also --given the fact I was raising three children --easy to read. Linda Dillow's Calm My Anxious Heart is that book. I'll tell you about the book in the next post.

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