If you’ve been around the blog or followed me for any length of time, you’ll know my husband and I are on an adoption journey.
We’ve been pursuing adoption for over five years now.
In November of 2019, we felt like we should take a big step of faith in regard to our adoption journey, and we bought a Doona Stroller & Carseat.
I even wrote a blog post about it, called Exercise Your Faith, Buy the Carseat! I shared other stories of people doing something in faith while they waited on God to open a door or deliver on His promise.
In June 2020, we were finally matched with an expectant mom who had decided to make an adoption plan. We were so excited she chose us and started getting ready to welcome a baby girl in September that year.
We bought onesies, and swaddles, and bottles, and packed everything up. Then, when the time came, we got our "faith stroller" and set out across the country, intending to fill it with a beautiful little baby.
I remember pushing that empty stroller through the airport feeling so giddy! There was such an expectation of what was to come that I didn’t mind standing out. A part of me actually wanted people to notice so I could share the exciting news!
We got to our hotel and began the agonizing wait for the call that notified us we could head to the hospital.
We waited, and waited, and waited…
And things started slowly unraveling.
After four or five days of waiting, we got the news that Baby Girl’s mom had changed her mind and decided to parent.
I can honestly say I don’t blame her, but there were still very real feelings of loss, hurt, grief, and disappointment. Our life was supposed to be changing in a frightening and wonderful way! We were supposed to be heading home as a family of three. Life was never going to be the same, right?
Only, that’s not how it worked out.
We were heading home the same, at least in some ways. We ended up back at the airport, pushing that empty stroller through security, only this time it had a completely different feeling.
This time, I didn’t want people to notice.
And, of course, they did.
We got comments like, “looks like you forgot something” and it was really hard to return the smiles. At one point, a little girl loudly asked her mother, “Where’s the baby?” as we walked by.
When we reached our gate, we decided to gate-check the stroller. This turned out to be a bad idea.
When we landed in Seattle and picked it up, our brand new stroller, which had never even held a baby, was scratched and banged up.
It seemed to be the final little slap in the faith.
Yes, faith. ;)
Here was my "faith stroller," empty and looking worn out, which reflected exactly how I felt in that moment.
Walking into our apartment was the worst part. Pushing the empty stroller back into the empty nursery and closing the door.
At that moment, the faith stroller wasn’t the only thing that was banged up. My faith had taken a beating, too.
So what do you do when your faith gets banged up?
I don’t claim to have all the answers, and I still work through the grief and emotions that crop up from time to time. But there are three things I’ve found to be true:
1. Acknowledge Your Feelings
He’s not surprised by our disappointment or hurt feelings.
As a matter of fact, I believe He wants us to bring the feelings and thoughts and pour it all out before him. Let Him share the burden and grief. As my Aunt Penny says, “God’s got big shoulders.”
It doesn’t mean you have less faith because you’re hurt by the outcome of a situation.
Having faith doesn’t mean suppressing your feelings of disappointment and hurt. You don’t have to paste a smile on your face and pretend that you’re not grieving or that your heart isn’t broken.
God created us, emotions and all.
Faith doesn’t say, I don’t feel anything.
Faith says that I’m going to keep holding on to Jesus and His Word, even when I do feel hurt and disappointed. Even when I don’t understand what possible good could come from my experience.
Faith says, "He’s still good, and He’s still good to me, even when I’m hurting."
Acknowledge the pain, then acknowledge the truth.
He is God.
His ways are perfect.
He still loves me.
And I can trust Him.
2. Praise the Lord
One of the most impacting things that came from this failed adoption was when we got the call with the bad news. We hung up the phone and my husband grabbed my hands and said, "Let’s pray."
With tears rolling down his face, he began to thank God.
He had already determined that no matter how this ended up, he would not give place to bitterness. So he focused on praising and thanking God in that moment. It took me a moment longer to join in, but I am so thankful for a godly spouse who was willing to lead his family to a place of praise and thanksgiving.
When we praise the Lord, we are reminded of His goodness and faithfulness.
When our faith is being shaken, we must remind ourselves who God is and refocus our hearts and eyes on Him.
3. Keep Going
There’s a story in Judges 20 that has always stood out to me. The Israelites were going to battle the children of Benjamin. They asked God for direction, and He told them to go. But, when they went to fight, they were single-handedly destroyed by the Benjamites.
The Israelites sought God again, and again, God told them to go fight.
So they went a second time, and were devastated and defeated once again.
This time, all the people went to the house of God where they prayed and fasted and asked God again if they should go and fight.
For the third time, God said go.
Do you know what they did? They went out to fight for a third time.
Because God said go.
And even if it hurts me, even if I don’t understand, even if it doesn’t go my way, if God says keep going, I have to keep going.
It’s not my will, but I want God’s will to be done.
This isn’t a decision that’s made spur of the moment. I made up my mind a long time ago that I would trust Him and obey. It’s a decision that must be made long before the heart is broken by hurt and disappointment.
We have to determine now that, no matter what happens, we are going to get up the next day and keep doing the right thing. We are going to keep living for God, keep trusting, keep believing, and keep going no matter what.
When my faith gets a little banged up, it’s a made-up mind that allows me to put one foot in front of the other.
It’s been about six months since we came home with that banged up, empty stroller.
It’s still empty.
But I know it won’t be forever.
My faith might have taken a beating, but I’m still standing.
I’m still believing.
In fact, that scratched-up stroller is still a faith stroller. But now it’s a faith stroller with a story. And when the time is right, our faith stroller will be filled with a testimony of God’s faithfulness.