This post is by Noelle Juday, our May Pilgrim in Residence. Noelle writes at nbrynn.com and has a passion for storytelling. When she contacted me about the possibility of sharing about her own spiritual journey here at A Sacred Journey, I immediately said yes. The story she’ll be sharing all month is exactly the type of journey I want to share with and awaken in others—one which moves us toward mystery, and, consequently, draws us closer to our true selves and the Divine. Tune in each Wednesday in May for Noelle’s series and read the first post in the series here and the second post here. Noelle will finish sharing her story in her final post next week.
In July of 2009, we welcomed an eight-month-old baby boy into our home from the orphanage where he had been since birth.
At the time, we had been living in Chiang Mai, Thailand for a year and had already experienced betrayal in friendship, disappointment in ministry and depression from cultural isolation. We received our new foster son, Makham, as a much needed answer to prayer and a sign of good things to come.
We watched as Makham turned from a chubby, dull baby into a handsome, spirited little boy in our home. We watched the miracle of language acquisition unfolding in a young mind, learned the grueling schedule of caring for an infant 24 hours a day and discovered the joy of being called mommy and daddy—all at the hands of Makham. We watched him learn to crawl, threw him his first birthday party and caught him after he took his first steps.
Needless to say, we fell in love with Makham. Shortly after welcoming him as a foster child, we began pursuing permanent adoption. Although we hit road blocks every step of the way—largely in the form of overly bureaucratic, unbending systems—we still kept faith in God’s love for orphans and our own commitment to adopting Makham. We were sure he would be our forever son.
And so when it became obvious it was time for us to move back to the U.S., we packed for three and planned travel for three. And we prayed. And prayed. And prayed.
Every day we waited for those final pieces of paper that would make our adoption of Makham official. Every day we paced until the phone rang, only to be sent around another bureaucratic loop, to be asked to pay more fees and, then, to land right back in a place of uncertainty and waiting again.
All the while our hearts were suffocating from all the wondering and waiting, hoping and praying. Because of the severe ministry and relational disappointments we had already experienced since moving to Thailand, we were depressed, depleted, desperate. We no longer had the energy to force ourselves into belief or to cling to certain answers. The foundations of our lives and our faith were cracking…
And then, they shattered.
Just weeks before our intended departure, we received what we expected to be a phone call finally bearing the good news we, and so many others, had been hoping and praying for. Instead, we were told Makham would be moved to a new foster family within the week. Shattered hardly seems sufficient to describe the loss we felt. We dropped him off and drove back home, numb, bewildered, crushed.
When we waved goodbye to our son that day, we waived goodbye to our idealistic visions of the future and to our narrow visions of God.
Up until the day that we received that heart-breaking phone call, we and those from our faith community believed God had given specific promises in Scripture that nearly guaranteed Makham would come home with us. In a broader sense, we certainly believed God “working for good” somehow meant tragedy and loss would never knock at our doors, not when we were sacrificing so much and doing such good “for Him.”
We had allowed the Light of Scripture to become a Law and the Sacred Guide to become a Guaranteer.
We moved back to the U.S. with shards of faith in our hands and grief heavy in our hearts.
What disappointments have you experienced in prayer or in faith? What have they shown you about yourself? What have those disappointments taught you about the Divine?
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