We were out on a boat one day doing a coastal tour of lighthouses. Our guide drew our attention to some amazing private houses built into the cliffs. As you can imagine, the houses themselves were magnificent, but when you include the amazing ocean views from these private homes, describing them as "idyllic" would be an understatement. The guide also pointed out some empty concrete slabs among the houses along the coast. He explained that these were foundations of houses that had been completely destroyed by hurricanes through the years. They had simply slipped off the cliff into the depths of the ocean below when met with the mighty waves and punishing winds of a hurricane. Many of the houses had been rebuilt on the same site, but a few of the homeowners had rebuilt farther back from the cliff, diminishing their views, but increasing their home's chance for survival in the occasional hurricane. And in that boat Wes and I had a conversation about the fact that the most beautiful places to live were so often the most dangerous places to live.
My dreams over the past several weeks have been filled with these beautiful dangerous places. I dream of open air houses built on stilts hundreds of feet in the air. I dream of houses built into rocky mountain cliffs with sharp drop offs. I dream of glass bottomed houses built into the middle of a raging ocean. And in my dreams I'm in love with these places, and terrified to be there all at the same time. Yesterday I was alone with Wes in the car, both of us deeply lost in thought. I suddenly burst out, "It's a metaphor." Wes is, by now, used to the fact that I often start him in the middle of a conversation that I've been having in my head for some time. So he patiently asked me, "what's a metaphor?"
"For life. For living." I said. "The most beautiful places to live are often some of the most risky."
It's how I've come to think of this adoption process. We are adopting two beautiful children who I've never met. I don't know what their strengths and weaknesses are, or what challenges we will face as we work to become a family. It's risky. But it's oh so beautiful. And I believe the beauty is worth the risk.
This week I came across the story of an adoptive family whose house slid off the proverbial cliff. (Actually I heard about several, because in the same way that people love to tell pregnant women horror birth stories, people love to tell prospective adoptive moms horror adoption stories.) But this particular story was earth-shattering to me because this was a family I had followed closely. I don't know them personally, but I had read many of the things they had written a few years ago and they had been influential in our decision to adopt from Ethiopia. I don't know any of the details of what they went through, but it's safe to say that somewhere along the way, something went horribly wrong. And for a time, it was terrifying for me.
In the late stages of pregnancy, every woman is filled with questions, and self doubt. There is worry about the child and what they will be like, about your new life and what it will be like. Worries that you won't be up to the challenges. I can tell you that the final stages of adoption are no different. Worries and self-doubt are constantly sneaking into my thoughts. And I wrestle these thoughts around, and up, and down, and inside, and out.
And I come back to this one. simple. conclusion. God has called us to this beautiful place. Is there risk? Yes. There are no guarantees in life. But in the end I'd rather live in this beautiful place that God has called us to, than to sit back afraid and stagnant in the ordinary. And like my recent dreams, I'm so excited to be here, but not completely without fear. I'm well aware of all the things that could go wrong. But rejoicing in the fact that there's so much more that could go beautifully right!
And that family I was writing of earlier? The one whose house fell off the cliff? They are rebuilding their house. Finding the peace, and healing, and redemption, and grace that only the reckless raging fury of God's love can provide.
Again, I'll close with a wonderful passage from Jesus Calling:
If you live your life too safely, you will never know the thrill of seeing ME work through you. When I gave you MY spirit, I empowered you to live beyond your own natural ability and strength. That’s why it is so wrong to measure your energy level against the challenges ahead of you. The issue is not your strength but MINE, which is limitless. By walking close to ME, you can accomplish MY purpose in MY strength.