My husband and I are currently in the process of growing our family through adoption. This has been a long time coming. In fact, our discussion about adoption began before we were even dating. I remember it well. Ryan was on tour with Kiros, and we had started texting with each other quite regularly. At this point he was aware that I had feelings for him, but he was still figuring out whether or not he wanted to consider the possibility of a relationship.
One afternoon, I remember getting a text from him that said, “Why do you want to date me?” Shocked at his candidness, I stared at my phone, utterly speechless. I don’t remember how I responded, but I remember what he said next. He informed me that I shouldn’t want to date him. “Why not?” I asked defiantly. His response to my question came in the form of an organized list of five reasons why pursuing a relationship with him would be really hard and complicated.
One of those reasons was that, because he was on the road so much with his band, he wasn’t sure if he would ever want to have children. Touring with kids would be logistically difficult, and being away from your kids for nine months out of the year seemed unfair. It’s not that he never wanted to be a parent—he knew that he would love to be a father. It was just that he had chosen to pursue a different calling in his life, and he questioned the wisdom in trying to do both. So this was the conclusion he had come to. Children simply might not be in the cards for him, and he wanted me to know that upfront. He also wanted me to know that if he ever decided that it did make sense to start a family, he would want to do so through the avenue of adoption. He had thought long and hard about the number of children in the world that grow up without parents, and he felt strongly in favor of adoption for that reason.
I could understand why he thought that this might have been a deterrent for a girl, or at least something to give serious consideration to, but it wasn’t one for me. While I hadn’t given much thought to having children at this point in my life, I loved Ryan’s passion for orphan-care and genuinely believed that this was something I could get behind.
Two years after that conversation happened, Ryan and I got married. Three years into our marriage, Ryan felt it was time to give up touring in Kiros in order to pursue a different kind of ministry here in Lloydminster. And then, in the fall of 2015, we decided that it was time to start processing our application to become adoptive parents. And now here we are, waiting.
This has been an interesting process for us because it is full of so many unknowns. We don’t know how long we will have to wait for a match (we have now been waiting just over one year). We don’t know who our child’s birth family will be and what it will look like to develop and maintain a relationship with them over the course of our child’s life—or even if the birth family will want that. We don’t know what our child’s birth mother will have been through, and we will never understand how painful it will be for her to make this adoption plan for her baby. We don’t know if we will have weeks or months to prepare ourselves and our home for a baby after the match has been made, or if we will just receive a call one day for an instant placement. We don’t know what changes will have to be made in regards to our jobs and ministries in order to accommodate parenthood. We don’t know what it will be like to help our child navigate the tensions and emotions that come along with adoption. We don’t know. We don’t know. We don’t know. There are so many what ifs. So many possibilities. So many opportunities for fear.
But I am learning that uncertainty in life does not have to generate fear. It is an easy trap to fall into—thinking that since we don’t know what is going to happen next, we must fear the possibilities to somehow protect ourselves. But here’s the thing. Living in fear doesn’t protect us. It impairs us.
Now let me clarify that. There is a small place for fear in life. Sometimes fear can be our best friend, if it shows up in the right moment to get us out of a dangerous situation. It lights up that fight or flight response in our brains to notify us of peril and to urge us to find safety. That being said, I believe that as a society we have, by and large, become slaves to our fear response! When fear kicks in to get us out of danger, we aren’t breathing that sigh of relief once we find safety. Instead we cling to the fear and we take it with us everywhere. And in doing so, we find our every move, our every decision, now influenced by that fearful incident.
When it comes to a fear of the unknown, our imaginations can begin to run wild. We take our fearful experiences from the past and start to paint pictures in our minds of the worst possible outcomes. And it cripples us. We become unable to move forward or unable to move at all.
But uncertainty does not have to generate fear. What if, instead of painting mental pictures of the worst possible outcomes, we started to paint pictures of hope, and joy, and satisfaction? What if, instead of worrying what tomorrow will bring, we started to believe that tomorrow will be an opportunity to accomplish something great? What if, instead of fearing the uncertainties on the road before us, we chose courage and took a leap of faith to cling to a higher power that could get us through any storm we might face?
I think if we did that, we would realize that we don’t need fear. I think if we did that, we would walk a little bit taller and feel a little bit lighter. I think if we did that, we could make those scary decisions without feeling burdened by the dread of the unknown.
My life is full of what ifs. I’m sure yours is to. While you may not be in the long process of adoption, you may be looking for a new job. You may be trying to decide what to do after you graduate from high school, or college, or graduate school. You may be trying to figure out what life looks like after the death of a loved one, or how to move on after the divorce is final. We all face what ifs. And we all have to choose whether or not we will allow the uncertainty to generate fear. Today, let’s all decide together to start painting better pictures for our futures. And let’s decide today to say no to fear.
What situations are causing you uncertainty today? Have you allowed the uncertainty to generate fear in your life? Leave me a comment, and let’s talk about how we can overcome the fear of the unknown together.