Caught by Surprise

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A letter I journaled to Meseret this morning (my 10 year-old girl)...

My Mez,

Two weeks ago I opened the file in my computer which houses the pictures we received of you and Kamise before we brought you into our home. You were kneeling over the arm of the chair on my right, Kamise kneeling on my left. Innocently looking for a picture of Kamise and her friend from 4 years ago in Kamashi sent by Sue (our agent), I happened onto the photo stream of your birth father, telling you goodbye. We were both caught off guard. Holy ground scrolled before us.

The photo stream which paints a vivid picture of a story being written, yet words had not yet met the page. I’d not shared them with you since you arrived 5 months ago. I wanted you to have some time to bond with us. I wanted you to have words to express yourself to me, if needed.

Suddenly, you, Kamise and your birthfather were up on the screen. Talking. A father’s last words to his daughters. How I’ve longed to hear those carefully chosen morsels over the past six months. The moment the pics showed on my 13-inch screen, you became silent. You are our pensive one. A deep well of thoughts brews within you. And you retreated to an inward space, surprised by the sudden onset of emotion, while Kamise jabbered away.

One jolted. The other unfazed.

How vastly different stories the Author of Life writes upon our lives….two sisters from the same family in Kamashi, Ethiopia, adopted into our family, yet the story our Father is writing on the pages of their lives was vastly different at that moment, though in the same place at the same moment, one is jolted, the other is unfazed.

I asked Kamise what her tear-stained father was telling her in different shots. “He’s saying, ‘Don’t eat dirty food off the ground’ right dare (there)’. “ How unexpected. I don’t know what I was expecting but it wasn’t that. What would I be telling my child in my last moment before relinquishing them to the care of an unknown family in a far-off land? There are no words I can fathom to bring wholeness to that broken place. His attempt to offer them one last taste of protection left me speechless. In another photo, Kamise shared, “He said he lost his work and couldn’t pay for us.” And as Kamise glided along, retelling the morsels….

I glanced at you, whose eyes were glassy and nose was sniffling. I knew this day would come, but had not planned for it then. I was reminded of the Father’s voice whispering to my fearful heart the day I first laid eyes on these photos, “I have prepared you for this as inadequate as you feel, I’ve taught you to be “with” those who are grieving and hurting. To incarnate my Son.” I placed my hand on your back, stroking gently.

And the dam inside of us broke. Through your softening veneer of control, floodwaters burst forth and your deep heaves of grief filled the space. I wrapped my arm around you and together we wept over the loss in your life. Pain and loss spilled forth from the space within you, each tear being captured by our Father, who will remember the story of each tear and retell you the stories when you are fully “with” him one day. Not one will be lost.

For 15 long minutes, you heaved out sorrow. All I could say is, “He loves you and loved you so much. I know you love him.”

So much loss will fill the tapestry of your life. I have no capacity to wrap my mind around the losses you’ve lived each time a story is told. The beauty I see before me is that, through your birthfather, your Creator deposited within you a love for the One who Redeems. And there is no greater gift He could have given you. You will be a living picture to the world of one who was broken, blessed, given and received because you love the One who was broken, blessed, given and received.