Friday, March 4, 2011

A Ticket to "The End of Myself"

I have been meditating again on the sense of control that was stripped away by our first adoption experience, and continues to be affirmed by the experience of raising  children. All of them! Not just our adopted ones :).

I was led to ponder this anew rereading an old favorite book, Linda Dillow's Calm My Anxious Heart.

That issue of control was at the root of my struggle with situational anxiety during our adoptions. You probably recall the statistics: that families who adopt Internationally tend to be more highly educated and more highly employed than average. On the whole, I think that means we moms are accustomed to spending the majority of our time in realms where we are highly competent, and without realizing it, derive a lot of comfort, a sense of stability, a sense of "all's right with the world" from functioning in our areas of giftedness.

Adoption is a radically different world. We have much more control in the beginning phases: we choose to adopt; we choose when to adopt; we choose how to adopt (domestic infant? kinship? foster care? Internationally?); we research and choose an agency to facilitate our adoption; we choose when and  how we complete the initial application.

In these early phases of adoption, we tend not to understand the sign posts along the way pointing to where this road is headed: the required preadoption class is full, requiring us to wait another month; the Walsh Law fingerprints take their own sweet time clearing; our references find no urgency attached to writing their letters; it takes a while to be assigned to a social worker; then we have to wait again until the SW is free for home study visits; then we're temporarily out of control again while the home study gets written up and approved. Along the way we find Federal holidays and "out of office" days for the professionals we have hired to be pesky nuisances.

I'm smiling ruefully, remembering how we chafed at those speed bumps, how eager we were to get through the early phases of adoption and get on to part we so keenly anticipated: the wait for our child. Oh how naive was the control-freak in me not to savor every moment of the early days of our adoptions, the time in which I could maintain the illusion that my husband and I were in control!

The realities of the wait come as rude shock. I learned the hard way that despite my love for God, despite the quarter century I've spent in a church that loves and preaches the Word, despite the years I spent on staff of said church where you'd think I would have learned better :), my inner sense of equilibrium was still largely derived from my daily circumstances and those circumstances were relatively under my control.

Living in a first world country, well above the poverty line, with a solid education, a relatively intact family, friends, employment opportunities and undreamed of  (in most places of the world) leisure time, I was I able to unconsciously manipulate (control) my circumstances until my inner content-o-meter registered "just right."

Want a ticket to that place called "The End of Yourself"? Adoption will take you there.

The difference between being content or not, --no matter the journey --is perspective. Anxiety rises as control plummets --if we perceive the lack of control as threatening.

In the olden days, the brakes on trains occasionally failed on steep grades, giving rise to the Americanism, "like being on a runaway train." Feeling that helpless, my fate literally riding on tons of out-of-control iron would naturally produce anxiety.

But what if I could see the bigger picture? What if I knew the train was under the control of a Master Engineer who was gathering steam and momentum in order to plow through a snow drift blocking the tracks?

My sense of self (self-control, self-confidence, self-worth, self-sufficiency) is like a towering drift blocking the narrow passes of my life, obscuring the path and the view ahead:

"These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are looking for a homeland. If they had been thinking about that land from which they  have gone out, they would have had the opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city." (Hebrews 11:13-16)

It is kind and loving of God to demolish my sense of self and leave me wholly dependent on Him to lead the way.

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