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An Invitation to Hurt is an Invitation to Trust

There was no way we could hide it from him.

We’d brought a baby home with every intention of adopting him, but the entire process was being derailed. Our seven-year-old was with us from the moment the plan began to unravel, and I knew I couldn’t hide it. He was watching and asking valid questions. “Will we get to keep the baby? Will you be sad if we don’t? Will we get another baby if we have to give this one back?”

Those questions sent splintering cracks through my already fragile heart. On the one hand I was trying to love and bond with a baby I may lose; on the other hand I had a son who was trying to find security in the shakiest of situations. I wanted to shield him from all that was falling apart.

I’m the adult, I told a friend one day. I can take the blow of loss, but I’m worried about what this will do to my son. If we lose the baby, I can’t pretend like it never happened. Court dates, phone calls—I can’t shield him from everything.

In the middle of my panicked tears, my friend spoke these wise words to me: “Invite him into your pain. He will learn to trust the Lord in crisis by watching you do it.”

There’s a lot that’s foggy about the seven months we lived in uncertain territory. But those words stand strong and clear in my mind. I took them in, wringing out the reality that could appear side-by-side with the chronic ambiguity we found ourselves living in. I could talk with my son honestly, and I could cry in front of him. I could also take this painful experience and point him to Jesus as our Hope and Comforter. Instead of whispering or pretending our faces weren’t strained by concern and fear, we talked openly about how God would take care of both us and the baby if our lives threaded out in different directions.

Yes, it would hurt.

Yes, we would be sad.

But oh yes, God would be with us in our sadness and would one day heal our hurt.

I don’t know if we handled it all right. As a mom I question pretty much everything about my parenting. But I can look back and see that my son was confident through the ups and downs of that unruly adoption process. And though his little heart is still learning about who God is and what it might mean to follow Him, he didn’t doubt that God would be with us in whatever way our story ended.

A few weeks ago, my mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and while tears streaked my face for days at a time, my now-eight-year-old watches me with serious eyes as I once again invite both him and his baby brother into my pain. He’s not alarmed by my tears, and I hope that he is learning it’s okay to feel uncertain sometimes. It’s okay to feel sad and unsure--because underneath it all is the steady beat of hope in Christ and the unbroken faithfulness of God who is always with us.

Find Glenna Marshall by clicking on the links below.

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