Real Love

Picture of Keegan

My Keegan,

Yesterday, as our family walked down Disney’s Boardwalk, you wrapped your arm around Mez and pulled her close. And she let you remain with her. If only onlookers knew the price you paid for that gift.

You couldn’t wait for the arrival of your new sisters. For 15 months, you waited. Anticipation growing. You’d seen their pictures. A short video. Been told their father needed to relinquish his rights as their father because he wasn’t able to care and provide for them. They lost their birth mom as two and four-year old little girls. They had two other mothers helping care for them. Step-moms in a polygamist family. That was all you knew. And you couldn’t wait to receive them.

We finally brought them home. January 27, 2012. And you surprised me. Your pursuit so purposeful. I don’t know what I expected from a 14 year-old teenage young man, but it wasn’t close to the reality you lived. I must’ve thought you wouldn’t be so interested in them. That their arrival would be novel, but your lives would remain somewhat separate. How small was my vision.

I remember vividly the day I was schooling Cole a few weeks after their arrival. I heard a low murmur coming from the Meseret and Kamise’s bedroom. Five minutes. 10 minutes. 15 minutes. 30 minutes later your voice still carried across the house. Terribly curious, I peeked through the doorway. You’d been reading to Meseret Defeating Darwinism, a school textbook. She didn’t understand a word, still only fluent in her native tongue. But you were “with” her. Pouring your presence into her. And I don’t know that she’d ever known that kind of withness.

For she didn’t know how to receive you. Neither of your sisters knew how to receive you, your tenderness, your strength. Weeks grew into months. You longing to connect with them. Moving toward them with determination. And you were rejected. Again and again and again. Your big heart met with a straight arm. We assumed they’d have issues with boys. Yet nothing can prepare the heart for how self-protection will manifest its fierce, determined fist. And your heart was unprepared. Our hearts were unprepared.

Over weeks and months, your determination morphed into anger. Rejection penetrating deep. Powerless. Hurt. Frustrated. Hope of connection fading. Anger was less costly to the heart. As I wrestled alongside you, I painted vision of a larger story our Father could be writing…in all of us. Sharing with you that you have the opportunity to love like few ever embrace. To continue to move toward sisters and seek to pour life into them when you’re unwanted, unloved, rejected. To love selflessly. To move into mystery. To pour into them life when the fierce, determined fist is your reward.

You wrestled. You raged. You withdrew.

Who could blame you. I know the wrestle too well. I prayed. My heart ached for your loss.

After seven long months, something shifted in you. Something only the Jesus who lives in you could produce. From the desolate space within, watered by rejection, flowed Living Water. Your withdrawal flowed into movement once again, this time with a strength which no longer feared rejection. With humor and determination, you found the cracks in the wall. Relentlessly you pursued, unafraid of the clenched fist. I watched in awe. To love without demanding a return. Most never choose “in” to love like that.

For the past eight months, you have playfully, relentlessly moved into the cracks. And the wall has not been able to withstand the filling of your love. Brick and mortar crumbling. We don’t yet know the stories of each brick. Someday we might. The miracle is that as your sisters are ready to share the stories, the bigger story will be how our Father, through your love, crumbled that wall, freeing them to enjoy spacious places of connection rather than the lonely isolation of brick and mortar.

Yesterday, as our family walked down Disney’s Boardwalk, you wrapped your arm around Mez and pulled her close. And she let you remain with her. It seems the only fist remaining clenched is the one you are holding in the face of Satan, who seeks to kill, steal and destroy. The one whose slimy grip has been loosed because you’ve chosen to love.