The day after Christmas, Ryan and I began running again. The transition to life with three children (one who entered our family at 2 1/2 years old) had been challenging to say the least. Christmas itself had turned out to be one of our most difficult days since coming home from China, and I remember sitting on the couch talking to Ryan about what a low point we were experiencing. Physically, I was exhausted, and spiritually, I was thirsting for more. We made the decision to start running three days a week on our treadmill in the basement. While I ran, Ryan would read The Story: The Bible as One Continuing Story of God and His People, and while he ran, I would do the same. Oftentimes, I would listen to sermons by Francis Chan to help fill my spiritual hunger.
About six weeks earlier, Ryan and I experienced something painful. Life had been difficult enough in our transition having Tucker home when a new kind of pain entered our lives. I am ashamed to say that I let this pain consume me. This issue consumed my thoughts and was often the topic of conversation in our house. Anger, sadness, bitterness, and shock filled my heart. Finally, one day in early January, I made a committment to myself to stop replaying the events that had taken place - to stop rehashing words said - and to start praying every time the situation came to my mind. Amazing how anger, bitterness, and sadness dissipate when you set your eyes on God and trust that He is in control.
I can't tell you how many times I have read a devotion from Jesus Calling, watched a sermon online, or read a portion of The Story, and I knew it was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment. God was using those experiences to help me refocus my attention on Him and less attention on what had happened. I kept reminding myself of one of my favorite truths that "...for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). I chose to believe that God was using this difficult situation for our good.
Forgiving someone is so much easier when that person is remorseful, sincere, and apologetic. When that person works to make right his/her wrong, forgiveness comes easily. Forgiveness is much more difficult when those things do not take place. I keep telling myself that Christ died for me, and He forgives my sins every single day. How can I not feel forgiveness for this person? It goes against everything that I know to be essential to my faith. Saturday night, we found ourselves talking about the situation again, Ryan said to me, "Amy, at some point, we have to forgive regardless of an apology." He is so right.
Nearly two months have passed since we began running again. Another mom who is working with our adoption agency posted a video of a woman speaking at Liberty University. While watching it, the speaker quoted Hebrews 12:1-2 saying, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." The entire talk was amazing, but I shouted this verse out to Ryan as a reminder to talk about it after we finished running. I was crying in the middle of her talk and again at the end.
When Ryan began running, I opened up Jesus Calling and turned to February 23rd. The first words I read were, "Be on guard against the pit of self pity." My heart was instantly convicted, as I had definitely felt that emotion Saturday night. Later in the devotion, it read, "When you are occupied with praising and thanking Me, it is impossible to feel sorry for yourself. And the closer you live to Me, the more distance there is between you and the pit [of self pity]. Live in the light of My presence by fixing your eyes on Me. Then you will be able to run with endurance the race that is set before you, without stumbling or falling."
After reading those words, I threw my arms in the air and yelled out because I knew God was using that video and that devotion to launch me out of this pit. When I focus on praising Him and thanking Him, I am less consumed with grief. We have already begun to see how God is using this situation for good, even though it has been wrought with a lot of pain and hurt. God is still in control, and He is leading us to what He wants for our lives. We are fixing our eyes on Him and dreaming about what He might have in store next. My heart felt encouraged tonight, and I know as we praise God, forgiveness will come. This person has not taken anything from our family as I once believed, but rather God is giving us a new direction and focus. We have asked Him to show us the way He wants us to go, and in the meantime, we have peace with the doors He has allowed to close. I'm so excited to run with endurance the race that is set before us, laying aside all that has weighed us down.
And so we move on.