July 2, 2013

yes you can. no you aren't. (guest post)

friends, i am so so grateful the internet has brought me so many sweet/new friends & this dear lady is a jewel! thank you for sharing your beautiful words with us adrienne! I LOVE THE WAY YOU WRITE! 


for allison
I have this thing I do. The thing I always do.  
I stand on the sands of my soul and I look out to the furthest spot I can see in the water. Then I dive in and I swim. I swim with every bit of strength I can muster and I plow through the water with confidence because I know that I can do this task. I am showing myself I can. I am showing everyone. I am showing Him. 
And I think, “I can do this. You made me for this. You have called me to this.” But pretty soon, I have my face in the water so long that I have forgotten He’s even there. I have forgotten Him. And He watches. He waits quietly until I’ve finished my race and He watches as I climb back up on shore, feeling strong and able, and then I look up to see Him there. 
This February, I stood on the sands of my soul with my hands on my hips and my chin lifted up, looking out at the horizon as my phone rang. “We’ve got a match! This is it!” The voice says. Unexpectedly, I am a little afraid, but I look out at the water and say, “I can do this.” I say it to myself. To Him. To anyone that is listening. I choose the spot I will swim to, but God begins to speak. He points to a place far beyond the one I have chosen, and He says. “Here. This is where you’re going.” 
I shake my head. “Too far,” I think. 
But He insists.
I take a deep breath and I dive in. 
The day I met Finley was like the day I learned that Earth was only a tiny planet in a vast universe. I became so utterly aware of how small I was. There in the Sacramento Children’s Receiving Home, I was a only a tiny person standing before a towering eighteen month old baby girl, looking up at her and shaking, overwhelmed by the gravity of what I had just said yes to. And I had. I had said yes. 
I swim harder than I ever have, and I don’t look up. I don’t dare look up. It is a long time before I can admit that I will never make it. It is too far and I am too weak. Still, He is quiet. He watches me swim. I gasp for air, choking on the water. I kick as hard as I can. And I don’t look up until I am sure that my head is going to sink beneath the surface and never come up again. 
And there He is.
He reaches down and takes my hand and I hold on. I hold on for dear life. 
“I will never make it!” I scream. “Take me back to the shore!”
And I am absolutely sure that He doesn’t smile. I am sure that there is water in my eyes, that He couldn’t have possibly smiled as I am drowning. But I blink and look again, and I am wrong. He is smiling.
“I cannot make it back.” I plead, looking behind me to the shore that is further from me than it has ever been.
“We are not going back.” He says.
I look up at Him, holding on tighter. “Then where are we going!?”
“Somewhere new.” He whispers, over the sound of the water. Then he points to the horizon, where I can barely see an island floating. 
A new shore. 
“I cannot do it. I am going to fail.” I am begging now.
“Yes you can. No you aren’t.” He answers.
And there is nothing else I can do, so I put my face back into the water and swim.  But this time I have no choice but to remember He is there, because I have to stop again and again and let Him hold me. I have to let Him save me. 
Over and over and over again.
I thought the day my daughter finally came home would be the most euphoric experience of my life. I was right and I was so very, very wrong. Angels didn’t start singing. The roof of my house didn’t open up to the beams of light shooting down from heaven. I was right because the world started spinning the moment she stepped through that door clinging to her little purple stuffed monkey. I was wrong because the story didn’t end there. 
We had only just begun. 
And there are no doctors and nurses qualified to handle this delivery. There is no anesthesiologist in the world that can numb these labor pains. Adoption is a scalpel to the heart. It is an internal bleeding of the most precious wound—one that gives you no choice but to change into the person you were meant to be. 
My heart is hard, and I am consumed with fears. Why does this little person scare me so much? How can I be so intimidated by something two and a half feet tall with the loveliest brown eyes I have ever seen? “Absurd. I am so selfish. I am failing. I am so very afraid.” I say beneath my breath, when no one is listening.
But someone is listening. He is.
I catch her dancing in the middle of the living room by herself and singing and I press myself against the wall so I can peek around the corner and watch her and hot tears fall down my face. They trail down my neck as I try to swallow the painful lump in my throat. Because I can see that I am that little girl. And that is why I am so scared and unsure and needy. Because when out of nowhere, she freezes and balls up her fists and looks around the room, perfectly still, listening and watching, wondering if she is safe—that is me. 
Inside, that is me. 
And I feel so completely inadequate. I feel like there is no way I can meet the needs of this baby girl that will one day be a woman like me. So I find myself battening down the hatches to weather this storm with a protected heart. “Just until it’s safe.” I think. “Just until it’s easier.”
Unfortunately—fortunately—there is no shelter from this terrifyingly beautiful storm. And it is the same for any great quest the Lord sends us on. If I want to give up, my daughter and I will both end up at the bottom of this ocean. There is no more room for self preservation. Frankly, there is no time for it. Finley and I have embarked on something so unnatural, so un-instinctual, that I have no choice but to trust Him to guide me. Because in a perfect world, Finley wouldn’t need me. And my heart would not need to be big enough to love her. But this world is not perfect, and she does need me. So, this heart has to grow bigger and stronger to hold her. 
So, I keep swimming. I slowly learn to trust in a completely new way and give up on my silly schemes to show myself how strong I am. It is almost laughable now, to think of how strong I used to feel. I let the feelings of being lost come over me—because I can control nothing. I am in charge of nothing. Then I bundle her up in her blanket and take her in my arms and we rock in the rocking chair in the dark and I feel her little hand come up and touch my face. I feel her fingers trace the outline of my lips and listen to her sleepy breaths. My eyes rise up over the surface, and I swim for the place I am headed to with my daughter in tow. With my patient, loving Father watching us. Waiting to save us. 
It will take time to get there, but I imagine it is beautiful. I imagine that there, on that island, I am a different person altogether. 

Adrienne Sandvos, is a native Texan that lives in Northern California with her husband, their two sons, and a daughter they are in the process of adopting. Adrienne is a freelance writer and works with her husband who is a documentary filmmaker. She is passionate about women’s and human rights issues and culture, and is a regular contributor online and in print for Darling Magazine.


Shanna Mallon said...

Crying over here. I need Him I need Him I need Him, too.

Shannon said...

What a beautiful post! I love the comparison to swimming. Even when we go under or forget about Him. He never forgets about us and is ALWAYS still there.

Steph Krier said...

So lovely!

Tiffany Valdez said...

Tears. Love you and your journey and love to learn fr those going before me. Bless you Adrienne!

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