- Denial - It is NOT December. It isn't. Someone made a mistake with the cosmic calendar system. I am quite sure that 2011 is some sort of backward leap year and it is still September. So, who wants to tailgate before the high school football game? (And no, high school football is NOT over! Sheesh!)
- Anger - Seriously? December? This is so unfair! Who fast-forwarded October and November? Whose fault is this? I will CUT you.
- Bargaining - Listen, if we could just postpone Christmas this year for a teeny tiny bit...just a couple of months...I swear I'll be the holliest, jolliest, carol singingest, do-unto-others doingest Christmas celebrant ever in the history of the world! I promise!
- Depression - I cry over pictures. I cry over emails. I cry at Christmas commercials. A 30-second elf-on-the-shelf video, with an adorable brown-eyed, mischievous looking sprite sent me into paroxysms of grief.
- Acceptance - This I'm still working on. But it is Christmas. And it's not about me.
The feelings I have this Christmas remind me, in some ways, of our first Christmas without Trent's father. The holidays snuck up on us that year, too, as missing him rent a hole in the holiday celebrations. This year we are missing someone we don't even know except through pictures, but whom we've come to love, and whom we had hoped would be with us.
When we began the adoption process last Christmas, I knew the time frame varied anywhere from six months to two years (or more). But somehow I got it in my head that our son would be with us by November. I didn't tell anyone but Trent, but this idea was confirmed by the comments of others who innocently enabled my delusions. Every well-meaning "Maybe he'll be with you by Thanksgiving" turned into some sort of sign from God that yes, in fact, he would.
When, despite my denial, November came and went without the necessary processing of the adoption paperwork, I questioned God. I questioned myself. Had He fallen asleep on the job? Had I misunderstood? What does it mean that we must celebrate Christmas without our little boy, that he must celebrate Christmas without his new family? Where do we stand now? What is God trying to tell me?
While crying over the idea of sending out Christmas cards without the smiling face of a particular brown-eyed, mischievous looking sprite I ran into a Bible verse from the Christmas story I'm sure I'd read before, but to which I'd never paid much attention. It's in Luke, when newly pregnant Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth. Elizabeth says, "Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her," Luke 1:45.
Who has believed... This adoption journey has allowed me to confront many weaknesses. Not an especially fun process, let me tell you. Until we began seriously to discuss adopting, I hadn't realized I harbored so much doubt. But, for me, this adoption journey has been filled with doubt. I won't go into all the details, but here's a link to a great post about the many stages of doubt, disillusionment, worry, angst, joy, outrage, exhilaration that I, too, have experienced. (I think the author may have been spying on me). Still, in the midst of this doubt, there is one promise I know to be true: My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).
God didn't promise an easy road. He didn't promise quick governmental processing or sympathetic bureaucratic officials or clear communication. He didn't promise to work the timetable around softball season or the national sales conference or the deadline to register for school. He didn't promise November.
But He does promise that he will be with us (Joshua 1:9) and that he will overcome (" John 16:33).
Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her.