Sunlight threaded its way through the wood blinds drawing lines across the kitchen table. The mug, recently filled with hot water from the whistling kettle, held an Earl Gray tea bag with its tag wound around its handle. On it were the words, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” Perfect words for a morning where I felt so weary, not the kind of weary that needs a long nap, although I wouldn’t have turned that down, but the kind of weary that burrows deep into your marrow. Weary from the fight. Weary from begging God for justice for the fatherless and homes for orphan children. Weary from fighting with the enemy while he hurls darts at my girl stealing her dreams and replacing them with nightmares. Weary from fighting myself and the voices that love to scream in my ear, “You failed again. You might as well give up.” Weary.
Tuesday afternoon, I got an email from our adoption coordinator telling us the news we’ve been begging to hear. Ethiopia is not shutting down international adoption. I saw the email and the levee split wide open. Surely this fight is far from finished, but this round was over. The adrenaline that had kept me going suddenly crashed, and I was emotionally exhausted. My friend who has walked this international adoption journey reminded me the fight doesn’t end when my child comes home. Her words are truth. Parenting is a fight, and and it’s a hard fight. My best friend Liz and I were talking and crying together this morning, angry at the enemy for his attacks on our children and how they hurt even worse than his attacks on us, infinitely worse. Every parent knows this fight. From the moment you first see your child, you’re fighting. Fighting fear, fighting sleeplessness, fighting sin and all its ugliness, fighting messages from a broken culture, fighting a very real enemy who has absolutely no mercy. I have dear friends who are fighting fights I can’t even fathom, fighting for medical answers and diagnoses, fighting for health and a “normal” life.
But this is the reminder I’m clinging to… we don’t fight alone. Exodus 14:14 invigorates my weary soul, “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Silent, that’s another topic for another day, a word I’m learning to love, as painful as that learning may be. But the Lord will fight for me. I don’t fight alone. And when the weariness creeps into my bones, I can rest in Him and in His Word. I can also lean on the people He’s given me, my home team, my tribe. The old African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child” is feeling more and more true these days. Glennon Doyle Melton said, “People who need help sometimes look a lot like people who don’t need help.” We moms are especially good at this. But this mom is weakly uttering a confession: I need help.
A while ago, I wrote a note in my journal, “Find a tribe for each of my girls.” During one of my runs back in the fall, I listened to a podcast where a mom and ministry leader shared how she sought out a tribe for each of her kids, a small band of adults who would pray for, write to and speak into each of her children. Last week, I saw that note in my journal, and I knew it was time to get started.
I don’t know exactly what it will look like, but I am fervently praying for a tribe of adults who will join Matt and me in our prayers for our girls. I will ask them to commit to pray for each of my girls every week. I will ask them to write a letter each year for their birthdays in which they speak into them life and truth, shining a light on the particular gifts God has given them. And when we celebrate their entering the teenage years, I will ask this tribe to speak into them words they will hopefully carry with them for the rest of their lives, words that will give them courage and set a fire ablaze in their souls.
As parents, we are in a fight, a brutal fight. Not with our kids, but for our kids. The enemy is throwing his punches. This week he’s bloodied my brow and bruised my cheek, but I won’t quit fighting. There will be knock-outs and there will be victories. There will be blows that feel close to lethal, and there will be moments I shout in victory. And just outside the ring, the faces of my tribe urge me onward. The ones who take a towel to my busted lip and pick me back up. The ones who tell me, “Keep fighting. Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.”
The fight is vicious, but the Sword is strong. The warrior may be weary, but she’s linked arm in arm. Onward, dear friend, onward we go…