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Choosing Patience

July 28th we received an email from our adoption agency with the subject line “Approval Letter.”

I would have preferred a man with white gloves hand deliver a wax-sealed envelope that showered confetti onto the floor as we removed a gold-embossed piece of card stock declaring the Hency’s worthy of display to potential birth mothers. Oh yeah, he’d bring champagne. And cake.

I guess you could say downloading an attachment felt a little anti-climactic.

And maybe a little (unintentionally) misleading. When I think of being approved it feels like a journey has finally reached it’s destination. But this isn’t the case in adoption.

I am considering sending along a few suggestions for a new subject line to help future “Approval Letter” email recipients:

  • And Now You Wait
  • Remember, Patience is a Virtue
  • Enclosed Is Good News! P.S. Don’t Buy A Crib Yet
  • You’ve just finished The Fellowship of the Ring, Read on For Information On Your Personal Version of The Two Towers
  • You May Now Adopt Someday! (Please Don’t Ask Us Which Day).

There was no getting around the consistent doing that filled our time (and minds) during the seven months prior to receiving that email. Paperwork and doctors appointments and emails and fund raising…couldn’t stop wouldn’t stop.

Then, with a single uptick in our gmail inbox counter, it all stopped.

Now the temptation is to feel simply like those who are acquiescent, instead those who accomplish. That our waiting is inactive, passive, and uninvolved. It’s time to channel a lounging house cat unengaged from the inner workings of her habitat.

But that is a lie.

A seemingly harmless one, really. What does it matter if I believe waiting is the absence of action? Who does it hurt if I write time spent waiting off as useless? How do I change me or my world when I chose to sip coffee and stare forcefully at my cell phone willing it to ring into existence the newest Hency?

It matters very much, actually.

In the opening words of Colossians, Paul summarizes his prayer for the Colossians.  

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. (emphasis mine)

In the face of trying people, unfavorable circumstances, and (for Colossae at the time) heretical teaching, one thing Paul asks is that the church be given power for patience with joy.

If waiting well didn’t matter we certainly would need God’s power for it.

Paul’s prayer began by asking for right thinking–”wisdom and understanding”—that would result in right living. We want to wait for the news that a birth mother has chosen our family in a way that proves our desire to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord”. I want to refuse anxiousness about the distance between the ages of Faye and her sibling as a means of being “fully pleasing to him.” I don’t want to lose out on “bearing fruit” in the good work of adoption because I can’t see past my own ache for a baby I don’t want to forgo a facet of “increasing in the knowledge of God” because I am smitten with the facets of my own hopes for our family.

If waiting well wasn’t work we certainly wouldn’t need God’s power for it.

I want so badly to think of waiting as emptiness or stillness. I want that because it lets me off the hook. Yet it’s work to wait well. It’s a different kind of doing, no doubt, but it’s work none-the-less. We have to be on guard for anxiety, laziness, prayerlessness, worry, frustration, distrust, and arrogance. When they show up demanding a right to my heart and my head I must remind myself of what the cross requires of me, whose power it gives me, and see that their demands are refused.

Persistent patience is the requirement of waiting well. And waiting well is how we will love this little person before they every show up. Paul also told us that “Love is patient” (1 Cor 13:4).

So patience it is. Or at least patience we hope it will be.

Maybe this is why an email takes the place of cake and confetti. Because the real work has just begun.



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