Christmas season is a time of reflection and anticipation. Like the wise men searching for a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths in the manger, we search for peace in our hearts and in the world. Christmas is about children in awe of twinkling lights and presents under our tree. In the hustle and bustle, we seek quiet moments and it is in those moments that I feel the heaviness of my empty arms. My child is in China unaware of me, but my heart is deeply connected with her already. I study her pictures and the brief videos. I can imagine her here, enjoying our traditions and maybe we will create some new ones too. As my children participate in choir concerts and classroom parties, I can already see her here. As they bring little presents and quietly tuck them under our tree, I think maybe next year there will be one present more. My heart longs for all my children to be here as Moms generations before and generations to come have been created to feel. But we are still months away from meeting each other so this is a season of waiting.
This is my third Christmas waiting. In 2011, we waited for Kofi and Joy and in 2012 we waited for Eve. Today, we wait for Josie. While it doesn’t get easier, I do have peace that hasn’t always been there. Anxiety can take over and wreck the heart of its peace. Sadness can rob joy from our presence. Discontent will replace contentment in a hurry if we let it. Well meaning people gently suggest that God’s timing is best, and it is. But in the moment, it doesn’t feel right that a child is without their family a day longer than absolutely necessary. Whatever event transpired that brought our child to an orphanage seems unfair enough and now they are waiting, or worse, settled into a life without a family. We are not good at waiting, we are ready for healing to begin. Today.
As I have done before, one of the ways that I acknowledge this time of wait is by purchasing a special ornament. As I hung a recycled glass cross, I remembered the year I was so close to welcoming my children from Ghana home. This year, a delicate lantern ornament is going to be hung on a branch of our tree and it helps me remember that this too shall pass.
Waiting prepares us for what’s to come. Waiting is not passive, but our hearts are connecting to a little heart so far away. Waiting helps us when we work through grief and sleepless nights and long travels across oceans. In hard times, we remember the days and weeks and months we would have done anything to have our little (or big) one home with us. In good times, we appreciate every recital, every soccer game and every new word learned that much more. It’s all because of the longing that waiting brings that we get to witness the moments we would otherwise take for granted.
Dear Waiting Mom, your wait is hard work. Your cry, you pray, you plead. You refresh your email inbox gazillion times and you call your agency “just in case”. Your wait is heart’s work and stretching your love across oceans (or states or neighborhoods) is your labor. Moms before you have done this and can share stories of Christmases past. And while the empty arms never feel quite right, we can settle into a wait this season that includes peace, joy and even contentment knowing this is part of the journey.