I told a friend the other day that I won't be sad to see the back end of 2011. The obvious reason is that it will mean we are much, much closer to bringing H. home. The other reason is that it has been a very uneventfully eventful year. That probably doesn't make a lot of sense. Let me explain.
On one hand, not much really happened. We did a lot of paperwork, the children all grew and learned new things, we did have one go off to college, but we still see her quite a bit. It was pretty much just a normal year. Except that it wasn't. Ever since we signed that first paper which would begin the process to bring H. home, there have been other things going on. I have been made aware that we live in a spiritual realm like never before. It is so difficult to explain without seeming to have gone loony. I don't know what God has in store for us or for H., but clearly the devil does not want her to join our family.
It has mainly been myself who has been affected, but not always. The level of oppression I have felt off and on all year long has been astonishing. It has been a battle to complete each and every piece of adoption paperwork. The whole FedEx lock-box example is just a small taste. But mostly it has been an overwhelming sense of oppression which I have to battle to complete each step. It feels different from just 'the blues'. This is more an inaudible voice telling me over and over what I've done wrong, pointing out everything I haven't done, how I'm failing the children I have and asking how can I expect to raise yet another child, etc., etc. I am usually a fairly positive person who has a realistic sense of my abilities and worth. This is not my normal mode of operation and it comes in waves. By the end of the year, I could tell the difference between a not-great day and this spiritual darkness and it became somewhat predictable. Whenever we were reaching a turning point in the adoption process.. a new approval to be gained... it would escalate in the preceding days. Of course, at first, I had no idea that we would be hearing good news soon, but later, the 'off' feeling was so definite that I knew we would be hearing something. The last two approvals are a case in point. The day before hearing that we had our LOA and before hearing about our I-800 approval were brutal. Well out of the ordinary. I was not surprised at all when the news of each approval came. And the moment the approval came, the oppression was gone. Vanished. It was as if it was never there.
This has been my emotional life for the past year. I wish I could say that I have learned to recognize it for what it is and have learned to do battle with it. I don't always recognize it and am too willing to listen to the lies being whispered. I also forget to be prepared. The Ephesians passage about putting on the full armor of God has new meaning to me these days. But I confess there are days that I do not think about arming myself for battle. But a battle it is, and as a result I am more wounded than usual. I also can't help thinking these days about the story in 2 Kings 6:15-17. Elisha prays that his servant's eyes will be opened so that he can see the forces of God and the servant opens his eyes and sees that they are surrounded by chariots of fire. I sometimes wish that I could see the forces fighting for me, but then think twice because then I could probably also see the forces fighting against me. I'm sure with one you get the other.
But every so often, I do succeed a little better in the battle. When I can muster up the strength, reading Scripture and listening to praise music do help. There is also one other thing that I have found helpful in the battle: caring for my family and home. Our God is a God of order. He does not want us to live in chaos, but wants us to live in peace. Disorder in the home does not bring peace. It was one of the biggest lies I would hear, that I can't keep my home orderly, so sometimes I would give up. I can guarantee that not doing anything will bring chaos. If I just started doing something to bring order, I found myself stronger and more peaceful. No doubt helped by the fact that some of the chaos was kept at bay. Reading stories to my children helped me to remember that I do take care of them. I had to remind myself of the truth by doing it.
And so ends what is probably one of the odder posts I have written. I don't really understand everything that goes on, but give thanks to God for protecting our family through it.