Love, Unnaturally

It happened.

I knew it would.

I’d been here before.

The most beautiful part of waiting is receiving His response after your heart chose expectation instead of fear. I’ve been in both shoes, frequently, and choosing the former always makes the bitter taste sweet.

She was in the middle of her contribution to our dinnertime banter, tentatively trying her hand at directing what she had, once, only just observed. Her “how about, Daddy, we …” wasn’t our typical fare but we jumped on board with her suggestion. She scootched herself against the back of her chair and sat up, tall. She wore ownership.

And as the quickened chatter (which happens when life just produced a day with oh-so-much to recount) continued, time stood still for me. Her eyes found mine in that moment, fire-sparks underneath their dark shades. What once were hollow sockets which held yellow-stained symbols of a life lived bare and broken, were now magnetic.

And that moment produced the feeling for which I’d been waiting and praying and expecting. She is mine.

I saw Hagerty in her, as if I were staring at her nascent flesh and searching out what my womb had hidden for nearly a year. She is all mine.

***

The myth about adoptive parents is that they come born with a gene which loves that which is not from them — instantaneously — or, they’ve simply settled for a lesser love, one which couldn’t possibly match the love sown when one life produces another of its own kind.

To the contrary, adoption is one of many opportunities to try on another kingdom’s love, the love we were made to breathe.

Love which changes those that it brushes up against, the healing love that can happen as one life makes an imprint onto another, has only one source.

And it is in no way natural.

He is in no way natural, normal — at least not in this world.

I can’t yet fully trust that what feels normal and natural, to me, is a sign of His kingdom and His nature. To love her, I don’t — first — look to what I feel. I can’t. I’ve spent several decades in an inertia-of-life which is natural to man, but unfamiliar with the ways of God. I live embedded in a world that, although created by Him, is not His world. And His-speak is not yet my-speak.

His ways are not my ways. 

To tune into the fullest expression of this love, the fullest expression of His love, requires more than just a natural feeling or desire. My heart needs to be trained to desire, to love.

So I ask Him to dress me up in love, for her.

I practice.

I position. I wrap my arms around what feels foreign (and, well, is foreign) and exhale prayers that what He sowed — familiar to me and into her before she knew me — would come forth. I act the part, not out of falsehood but as one who is learning that I am keeping beat with a rhythm which this world can’t produce.

God knew her frame before I held it and He knew that she would be mine.

And after I’ve reached deeply into Him and He has spilled out over me to move muscles I’ve barely ever stretched, love starts to take shape. His love, in me, for her.

Then, what’s been simmering in my prayers and stirring in the heavens, surfaces.  She flashes her almond eyes at me beneath long, black eyelashes she inherited from another mother and my heart drops into my stomach. Hours logged praying that her skin would smell like my skin and she would wear my life’s shape, receive a response.

His kingdom comes down in the moment I feel what He’s been training me to do. This is Love’s nexus.

And, because my heart is being stretched to lift eyes up — not out or in, the receiving that happens in this moment is more than just for her. Love implodes and I grow. Further from the world’s metric of love that’s leaving me starved, and an inch closer to an understanding of Him as He really is.

He teaches us a love that’s not natural, but it is astounding.

In her early days under our roof, when bedtime arrived, this particular little one wiggled uncomfortably under love’s expression. She giggled and screeched and squirmed when her daddy went to kiss her goodnight. But, night after night, unrelenting, he draped each one of her untrained arms around his neck and cupped her chin in his hands. “This is what Daddys and daughters do,” he coached, as he held her.

She, too, needed to be trained to love.

Until one night, those arms found their home wrapped around his neck. No coaching required.

So, when I get an email from a friend who voices what I’ve been feeling: adoration prayer is not natural, I don’t feel very good at it, I return to that baby-book moment when I finally felt the kind of love for her that He had me practicing. That one moment I saw my heart grow, after a thousand moments before then, where the real training happened.

Living His love, not just talking about it or sitting under sermons about it, is unnatural to what we know. I have dozens of thoughts a day that seek to oppose His love, and even more circumstances which plead for me to believe He isn’t who His word says He is. They are subtle, but toxic, and all around me.

Moving in a direction where my thoughts are His thoughts and my inclinations are His leading is — at first — training in a resistance pool. When I expect it to be easy, to come naturally, I’ve bought into the lie of the world that love costs pennies and not a life. 

Enter adoration, into the thick sludge of life.

It is looking up — saying, singing, praying God’s Word back to Him, in my own words — when my feet seem stuck in another direction.

It’s asking Him to dress me up in love, before I feel it.

It’s practicing.

It’s paving a way for feeling and creating a lifestyle of breathing — first from His Word — what true Love is in the meantime.

And because this week, my Monday happens to be on Wednesday (yes, it’s one of those weeks), this was “just a little” precursor to my Monday Morning Chai adoration post. If you haven’t been here before and are interested in this concept of adoration prayer, read “Why I Adore” and “Showing Up” before stopping here tomorrow for the continuation of this post.

 

First and second photo compliments of Mandie Joy. Third photo compliments 
of Cherish Andrea Photography.
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