How do I go on?
That is the question that keeps rattling around in my mind and burning on my heart.
How do I go on?
I feel like I should be treated with the care of a trauma victim, not like a returning adventurer. I feel like I need prayers to be able to just function again on a day-to-day level. I don't know how to even begin a response when I am asked, "How was your trip?" It is always asked with a smile on the person's face - I am sure thinking I have some grand stories to tell.
As I try to summon a response, I start to gulp back the tears. A few people have said at that point, "Life changing, huh?" That doesn't even begin to scratch the surface - it sounds too cliche. Almost like it is a good thing. I trust that my loving Savior will bring good from this, but it will be truly beauty from ashes. It will be a beautifying of ugly, blood red scabs. Not a majestic "life-changing" event....like the birth of a baby or saying "I do" to the love of your life. In the end, I just don't answer.
When I first got home, I was able to calmly discuss the trip with Handsome and my mom. I was able to describe what I saw and how it made me feel. I was able to sleep the first night. I thought I was okay. Now, I know I was just in shock....that I just hadn't gotten out of the numbness of the shock.
On the second full day home, it really hit me. I really started thinking about what I had seen and where I had left my precious little girls. I was frantic with pain, trying to find some form of relief. The only thing I can think to compare it to is trying to escape the grief when I found out my grandmother died. My frantic pain took Handsome completely by surprise. He thought - just like I did - that I was okay. I am not okay. I am still not okay.
I have read other blogs of other families - the intense desire for my daughters is "normal" - if you can call anything in the world of special needs adoption "normal". There is an absolute understanding of the neglect of institutionalism. So, why I am struggling so badly? All I can think is that I saw behind the magic curtain. If I had just seen Hope the way I had...in a sterilized room with only tiny accidental glimpses of the other children...I would have absolutely known it was bad. I would have seen my tiny girl, all her trauma, her black eye, her weak body and known it was very, very bad. It would have still been "life-changing", I would still have grief. I would still long for my babies. But, I would sleep at night without nightmares. I would eventually be able to draw in a full breath. I would be able to eat.
But with the setting with Serenity, I LIVED with it. I saw all the children without the careful "posing" and carefully constructed pictures. I saw those children who made international headlines years ago for the indescribable neglect and conditions. I saw the near "end" result of a life of institutionalism. (I know seeing the actual end - the adult mental institutions - would have been even worse. I cannot imagine...even with all that I have now seen.) I saw their eyes. I saw their contorted bodies. I heard their screams. I was -and am- completely helpless to save them or reduce their suffering beyond a few moments for those 2 1/2 days.
I see R. when I close my eyes. Only blind. She was ONLY BLIND. And yet now she is severely disabled. Not able to do a single thing for herself. She does not even feed herself. She was only blind. She will eventually go home to her loving Savior after who knows how many horrific years in an adult mental institution. I. cannot. save. her. There is nothing I can do beyond prayers. Two others who were only autistic. I cannot say even that they would have been severely autistic if they would have been in a home that loved them. Now, they are trapped in their own nightmares.
I reach for peace the only place I know where to find it - in His Word. I know it to be true - every word of it. He still reigns. He sees all things. He loves each of these children. He has a purpose for my pain. He is my Rock and my salvation. My comforter and my Redeemer. It is the only thing that is keeping me sane. He has shaped this path I am on in His perfect wisdom. He will carry me. He will give me grace and mercy.
Yet, now I struggle with "The joy of the Lord is my strength." I have great joy that this is not the end. That He has saved me and is preparing a place for all He calls His own. I take great joy in knowing each of these precious lives will be with Him for eternity. That they will have rest and love. That He will wipe away each tear with His own Hand - in fact, He has collected the tears they have cried here in a bottle. They were not unseen even in a lonely crib in an orphanage.
But how do I find the joy for each day here? I cannot sleep at night due to the nightmares. I cannot see the blessings God has poured out on me without thinking of those that have nothing. I cannot snuggle Mimi and Grace without thinking of those who have no one to hold them. I cannot find the balance I need. I cannot meet the eyes of my friends who ask how I am doing. I am searching for any kind of peace - rather than clinging to the Prince of Peace.
I know we will try to redeem more, God willing. But what if we save 2 more...and then even 2 more...there are countless others. Staggering numbers. Unfathomable pain. How to find joy with that drowning each breath I try to take.
My children need me to be "complete" mom - ready to laugh with them, to tease, to find joy in each of their lives. Handsome needs me to be a wife full of love and joy. To be full of energy and the strength that comes from the joy of my Savior.
It is now that I need to believe that He is more than enough. He is enough for my pain. He is enough for their pain. He is enough to carry me through the nightmares. He is enough to heal my soul. He is enough to turn beauty from complete destruction. That it is enough to do what He asks me to do with my own little life and trust Him to save the world. That I am only responsible to do with excellence what He has placed lovingly in my Hands. That He has shaped this cross I carry perfectly for what He created me to be.
So I will try to breathe deeply of the fresh air that surrounds me. I will kiss my children and Handsome with abandon. I will serve with everything I have. I will strive to follow Him and pray for peace, patience, and wisdom. I will delight in each gift, in each day. I cannot save the world - only He can - but I can save as many as He chooses to give me. Even then, it is not me, but His grace.
It does not erase the pain and despair. But focusing on His face keeps me from sinking beneath the waves.
Until He comes....To Him be all glory, honor, and power.