So much of life is humdrum. Just the basics-- eat, work, poop, sleep. Repeat. We do it with a level of proficiency that makes us feel powerful. Competent. But rarely does the humdrum make us feel alive. It usually takes some sort of shaking up a bit by God for you to see that something larger than ourselves is at work in the world. And so we get our earthquakes--the shifts in our lives that shake us, forever changing our landscape. We leave our parents' house and go off to school--probably a 3 for most of us. We feel the rattle, but no major breakage. Our heart gets broken by someone we love--a 5, but we are better for it. We learn to love less selfishly. We get married--a 6. The landscape of singledom is torn down and something stronger is built in its place, complete with green spaces of peace, a harbor, and oh yeah, a couple of intersections that could stand to have a stoplight.
But most of the time, once the dust settles, we get back into eating, sleeping, working, and pooping. And we forget any lessons learned from past Earthquakes. Particularly when things have been calm for awhile. And then, BAM! The earth rattles, and though it is only a 3, we're looking for the number for Guinness, because certainly this is an 8. We dust off our platitudes that make us feel better.
My personal cliche mantra to chant during times of crisis is "God is in control." The fact that it is cliche does not make it less true. And to be sure, I chant it because it seems that I have trouble remembering this fact. I also like to add the tag line "and that's a good thing" because that is also something I tend to doubt. Another popular mantra during times of crisis is "These things happen for a reason." Also true. (Around churchy types, this mantra gets said as "What was intended for harm, God uses for good." We may be quoting Scripture, but basically we're saying, "Bad things happen for a reason.)
The classic example of this is the story of Joseph (and his amazing technicolor dreamcoat). Bratty little brother is hated by his brothers. (Bad thing.) They sell him into slavery. (Bad, bad thing.) While being a slave, he gets thrown into jail for sexual harassment, despite being innocent. (Really bad thing.) While in jail, he catches the eye of the Pharaoh and gets a job. (Good thing.) Famine takes over the land of his family--remember the ones who sold him into slavery--and so they come to Egypt to ask for food. Joseph saves them, thereby ensuring that certainly God's promise to Abraham, that his descendants would be as the stars in the sky, can come true. (Freakishly awesome thing.)
The reason saying "bad things happen for a reason" is not really helpful is because rarely in life are we ever allowed to see that reason. We see it in Joseph's life because it is written down and God point blank tells us--"Hey, you, yeah, you! What other people meant to be for your harm, I used it to save you. And them. That's my job; I redeem things."
But going through adoption has given me at least one tiny chance to see a reason. A tiny chance to see God's redeeming the yuck in my life this side of Heaven. Last August, on our anniversary no less, Sloan was laid off from his job (along with everyone else in the company who had his position). Earthquake for people who've only had 4 months to replenish their savings accounts from buying a house. Without the help of our friends and family, it could have been an 8. As it was, I'd say it was a 6. It was definitely a time when I had to remind myself that God loved us. It was also a time when, on several occasions, I'd literally look to the sky and say, "Dude, God, what are you doing? You've gotta be kidding me."
Our only comfort during this time was the knowledge that we'd seen God single handly save Henry's life when the doctors said all hope was lost. We figured that saving a kids life (not to mention creating the world or rising from the dead) is a heck of a lot harder than finding a job. God finding Sloan a job would be small potatoes for God, right? (And yet, for some reason, SunTrust did not accept this great knowledge as a mortgage payment.)
And yet. God wasn't just shaking things up to show us who's boss. He was moving things around. He was securing Sloan a job with greater career potential. He was planning a salary increase. And he was preparing for our adoption.
You see, Bethany operates on a sliding scale fee schedule. And they base this fee schedule on your tax return from the previous year. So not having an income for three months actually worked in our favor. To the tune of $7,000. (Freakishly awesome thing.)
Okay, maybe saying that it is a freakishly awesome thing--$7000--cheapens the grace of God. Not maybe, it definitely does. But it is a tangible thing. One of the few times in my life I'd had the pleasure to know one of God's reasons for doing something. He didn't have to let me in on His plans. And yet, He did. He loves me that much that He takes care of the details. And then shows me how He's taken care of the details.
And that knowledge, that relearning, that hearing Him whisper in my ear how much He adores me--that's a freakin' 9 people.
I pray the dust never settles.