Part 2 of my focus on faith series from 2007. As I read back over this post, I realized that the title "Forcing Faith" may be a bit misleading. The focus here is really on how we sometimes force our own wants and desires to fit into our faith. We often convince ourselves that what we want is God's plan. Often, we are wrong.
As I have mentioned before, we started off the adoption process by finding the picture of an adorable baby boy on the internet. What I haven't mentioned is how that photo would lead me down the path toward finding faith. It was not an easy path to travel and I would stumble several times along the way. My first stumble was when I tried to force faith into my life.
It started with that photolisting. The photo of LP was near the bottom of the page. It was taken when he was 2 months old, and according to his DOB he would have been six months old at the moment I first saw his picture. He was very thin and dressed in ragged clothes that were way too large. His hair was very patchy as though it had been cut in places or perhaps he had a skin condition on his scalp. However, the only thing I noticed when I first looked at that picture was his eyes. The biggest, brightest eyes I had ever seen seemed to be staring directly at me. I knew in that instant that this was my son. Later that day when my husband got home form work, I showed him the list without mentioning the baby I had seen. He looked over the list. When he was done he looked at me and said "this is the one". It was the photo of the same pitiful looking baby boy who had already taken a place in my heart.
I told myself at that moment that God had led us to that child. I wanted it to be true. For some reason I needed to believe that it was God's plan for us to adopt this child. I felt as if things would work out better if it were His plan. I wanted to believe and so I did.
Meanwhile, there was still the adoption process to go through. The paperwork was piling up and we received the package including all the costs involved. We had no idea that it would be so much. The stress of it all was beginning to affect us both. We toiled away at all of the paperwork. It took all of our free time, but still we kept positive. Then we got word that we had been denied the loan we were hoping to get to help with the adoption expenses. This really seemed to break our spirits. The piles of paperwork began to feel tedious. The costs seemed impossible. All the stress was taking a toll on us. We were both so discouraged that it was even affecting how we were acting with each other.
One day I felt the weight of it all crushing me down. I began to pray. I had convinced myself that adopting LP was God's plan for me. With that in my mind I prayed for things to get better, to get easier. I made myself believe that The Lord would help us get through it all because He had led us to adopt this child.
Things continued to be tough for us. The financial end of things were just not working out. As for our paperwork, the USCIS had lost our paperwork TWICE. What should have been about a 6 week process was approaching 4 months. It didn't make sense why it should be so hard.
Again, I began to pray. As I began to ask again for help, I suddenly had a realization. I had not prayed in years, had not even been to church in years. I asked myself then, why should God help me. I had left him out of my life for so long. It hit me hard when I realized this. Instead of praying for help, I prayed for forgiveness. I vowed to let The Lord back into my life. I dug my bible out of the box it had been packed away in since we had moved six months before. I opened it a few times, but was not really sure where to start. It made me feel sad and lost. I made the decision then that I needed to go to church that weekend. My spirit needed healing more than my body needed the rest of sleeping in as I usually did on Sunday mornings.
I had worked in a daycare at a church several years ago and I decided that I would attend their service and see if it felt right. The people there always seemed so happy and had wonderful relationships with each other. I walked in to church a little nervous and feeling out of place. I sat down in the pew, closed my eyes and prayed "Lord, please let me know if I am doing the right thing." The service opened with a few songs and then the pastor began to speak. He spoke of how we must not only let the Lord into our life, but strive to keep him there. It is not enough to accept the Lord as our savior, we must continue to live by his word. He told us that letting The Lord into our lives is the easy part, keeping him there is the part that takes work. The challenge was put to us to live life with The Lord as a part of it every single day.
As the pastor spoke I believed my prayer had been answered. I had asked The Lord to let me know if i was doing the right thing, and here was a man in front of me speaking of just the things that had been concerning me. The very things I had only days before realized I had not been doing, were the things that he was speaking to me about. If ever I had proof that The Lord listens to our prayers and guides us along the way, this was it.
If that had been the only thing I had taken from that sermon I would have been very fortunate. Instead, I also saw it as proof that LP was meant to be our son. Proof that God was planning to place that boy in our home and make him our son. I saw it as proof that things would get easier. I saw it as proof of these things, because I wanted it to be proof.
I went home and wrote the following words in my journal:
I look now at the photo of the baby boy that we are trying to adopt and I notice again that bright light in his eyes. I know now why this baby was brought into our lives. It was not just to fill the empty void in our family and our hearts, but also the one in my soul. I believe that God brought this very special baby boy into my life so that I might realize that I had forsaken him. My love for this baby has reminded me of my love for God and for the importance of his presence in my life.
I know now that I was forcing the things I wanted into this ideal I had. This desire to believe God had a hand in my life. Later I would learn that He did have a plan, it just wasn't the one I had made.
I wonder how often people force themselves to believe something they want is God's plan for them. How many of us try to force this sense of faith in our own wants and dreams? Do we look for signs that aren't there? Do we make ourselves believe?
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives sleep to his beloved. (Psalm 127:1-2)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)