Mind you, I haven't completed either, but from my modest experience with both, there are some shocking similarities.
For those of you who haven't had the pleasure, hiking the Grand Canyon is wondrous. Yes, the canyon looks beautiful from above. Truly, one of the great wonders of our world. A masterpiece of God's creation. Definitely should be on your bucket list if it isn't already.
My husband and I hiked a few miles of the Bright Angel Trail ~ past the 3 Mile Resthouse but not all the way to the Indian Gardens (which had been our goal), and it was the most memorable hike of my life. It was also the hardest. Of course, we were there in June and if you weren't already aware, the temperature goes up as you go down into the canyon. At one of the thermometers we saw it was 117 degrees! To sum it all up, we turned around early and were more exhausted than I ever remember being in my life. Interestingly, we had seen many signs warning us of the hazards of the canyon and advertising the deaths that had occurred in the last year. The very real danger was something the locals wanted us visitors to appreciate. But it was weird to read, and unbelievable to us ~ a young invincible feeling couple ~ but of course it was true. However, we believed it when we reached our nadir in the canyon (who knew going down could be so hard?!). It was even more believable when we reached the top at last... and that night as I struggled to walk to dinner. But, it was worth it because the view of the canyon from below is even more fantastic than it is from above. I don't have many pictures, but here is one where you can appreciate how different the vantage point of depth is from below. Here, we were only a mile down or less. I can only imagine what it looks like from the Colorado River! It's got to be glorious! (That is on my bucket list for some time in the very distant future.)
So... What's this got in common with adoption?
Well, adoption looks beautiful from the top, right? Particularly from my family's vantage point, it's a generous solution to an otherwise unsolvable problem. It seems to be part of God's design; however hard to understand.
But then you actually go on the sweaty, gritty, hike of adoption. Although the challenges of adoption are written up in pretty good detail, not too dissimilar from the sign above from the Bright Angel Trail, the exhaustion that incurs on this hike is just as unbelievable from an adoption's onset as it was at the canyon's rim. Much the same as before our trek down the canyon, we just didn't believe it would be that hard.
We (deliriously!) thought we'd be somehow more visibly worthy of a miracle child than the next couple. We thought, correctly, that the challenges of adoption would be easier than the threat of a sixth miscarriage. But, of course, we haven't forgotten the parts of our journey that happened before we signed the adoption contract. Although some might say we haven't been on the "list" for that long, in my book, the time spent longing for another child includes both the consecutive miscarriages as well as the wait of the perfect adoption match. I can't really separate those waits. And while Isaiah 40:31 encourages me, "But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength... they shall run and not be weary..." I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I've been growing weary.
Unscathed, we press on. (Yes, the analogy falls apart with the reported deaths on the Trail, there are certainly no reports of death by adoption... although I'd bet there is some marital strife for many... and I'm thankful we haven't had many major struggles there...)
Adoption continues to ask of us an inner endurance that tests my heart. My daily prayer has been, "I trust You... but I want it now!" And I laugh at myself, but I pray it again.
Today, I pray that I'm in the third trimester of adoption. I pray it's "any day now." I remember fondly, how my labor with my son began - two days after my due date - with utter surprise, and I long for that day again. I dream about 'match day' or 'gotcha day' and hope they're not far off.
Truly, the view from this vantage point along the hike is beautiful. I'm dependent on God in a way I probably have never been before. The bond with my husband is stronger than ever, and I'm reminded of the sermon preached at my wedding regarding Ecclesiastes 4:12, "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."
The Great Wait, as one blogger I know calls it, is exhausting. It rivals medical school in the delayed gratification category. But I know, it will be worth it.
When that day comes, I suspect none of this will even matter. I bet I won't even really remember how it feels. Which is part of why I wanted to write this today. Because (hopefully soon) I will be one of those (annoying) people who can't remember how tiring this is ~ in very intangible, yet real ways. And I don't write this to secretly snip at friends who haven't been attentive enough, there is no subtext here. I just want to share, not so much for those of you out there who know and love me, but for those of you who might be struggling like me, that this is hard... you're not crazy... I feel it too.
Lately, I've gathered strength from Philippians 1:6. I took this picture at sunset over the Grand Canyon and I love the shadows through the expanse of the canyon. Yes, adoption may be the longest hike of our lives, through unpredictable challenges and exhaustion that drags on, but I'm confident God has a plan for us and that it'll be worth it.