The word “vulnerable” is defined as, “susceptible to attack; susceptible to criticism or persuasion or temptation; capable of being wounded or hurt; susceptible to physical or emotional injury.”
Being vulnerable. This is the lesson God wants me to learn. To my surprise, on October 9, 2011, everything in my life pointed to vulnerability. Brennan Manning told me to be vulnerable, Melody Beattie (another author) told me to be vulnerable, even the devotion in my Bible spoke of releasing my “tight-fisted control” and surrendering everything to God.
The October 9 devotional in the book, Reflections for Ragamuffins by Brennan Manning reads:
The inner child is capable of a spontaneous breakthrough of emotions, but the Pharisee within represses them. This is not a question of being an emotional person or a subdued one. The issue is, Do I express or repress my authentic feelings? John Powell once said with sadness that if he had to write an epitaph for his parents’ tombstone, he would have to write: “Here lie two people who never knew one another.” His father could never share his feelings, so his mother never got to know him. To open yourself to another person, to stop lying about your loneliness, to stop lying about your fears and hurts, to be open about your affection, and to tell others how much they mean to you—this is the triumph of the child over the Pharisee and the dynamic presence of the Holy Spirit at work.
Like a turtle, I have spent most of my life thoroughly protected by my hard outer shell. And, like a turtle, there has been on occasion, a soft, seldom-exposed underbelly. I have been a good turtle, rarely experiencing bites at my underbelly because of my fierceness at protecting it. Every time something attacked that underbelly, my defense grew greater…so great in fact, that in time, I have forgotten what it means to be vulnerable.
In their book Captivating, John and Stasi Eldridge write:
But we don’t get to wait to offer our lives until we have our acts together. We don’t get that luxury. If we did, would anyone ever feel like offering anything? God asks us to be vulnerable. He invites us to share and give in our weaknesses. He wants us to offer the beauty that he has given us even when we are keenly aware that it is not all that we wish it were. He wants us to trust him. How it turns out is no longer the point (pg. 215).
So, on October 9, 2011, God told me to just give it all up—the protection, the “safety,” and even the turtle shell! I screamed and cried, “But what if I look like a fool and this doesn’t happen?” God’s response, “It’s not about you.”
So, here I am, being completely vulnerable because it’s what I feel God wants me to do. For most of my life, I have wanted to adopt a child from Asia. Because of endometriosis, I was told early in my life that by the time I was old enough to have children, I probably wouldn’t be able to, so I should be prepared to explore other options. I literally gave up any ideas about having my own biological children, and resigned myself to adopting any children God would allow me to have. Ironically, getting pregnant was not a problem for me, and Simon and I have been blessed with three precious boys. But, the longing to adopt has not gone away, and in the past few years, it has been accompanied by the ache for a daughter. For a while now, I have felt strongly that God wants us to adopt, but Simon did not share my feeling. It was very scary for him, but I prayed that if it was truly God’s will for us to adopt a daughter, that God would bring Simon around first. I have had dreams about my daughter — vivid, painful dreams that I would try not to think about because it hurt too much. This summer, after such a dream, in that time between sleep and wakefulness, I asked God to stop tormenting me with such images, and he gave me a name — Sonja Ruth. Sonja is the Slavic or Scandinavian form of the Greek Sonya which means “wisdom;” Ruth is Hebrew for “friend”. I had always planned on naming my daughter Ruth after my favorite book and heroine in the Bible, but Sonja was a name I never would have chosen without God’s intervention. Frankly, I had never really liked the name and never knew what it meant—boy, was I blown away when I looked it up online at 5am.
So, here I was on October 9, reading my devotions and getting hit over the head with “be vulnerable” bricks. Sitting in church that day, Pastor Bill Boylan referenced a passage from Scripture that mentioned our adoption by Christ. At this point, the thoughts in my head went something like, “Now you’re going crazy, looking for meaning where there is none, so let it go.” And, I managed to for a short while, but it kept creeping back. The rest of the morning continued in that manner, to the point that I looked at Simon in the car on the way home and said “I think God’s getting ready to shake the snow globe.” Simon responded something to the effect that the snow globe was already shaken enough and we didn’t need it shaken anymore. I said that I wasn’t sure that it was going to be a bad thing.
My poor husband never saw it coming. (Ok, well maybe he suspected.) We went to a Steven Curtis Chapman/Andrew Peterson/Josh Wilson concert that night to celebrate our 11th anniversary. I love Steven Curtis Chapman, and I’m always teasing Simon about his “man-crush” on Andrew Peterson. While we waited for the concert to start, Simon milled about the church narthex while I sat in our seats. I looked up at the pre-concert slideshow to see a picture of an orphan named “Ruth” who was waiting to be adopted. Ok, God, enough bricks. Anyway, the concert was awesome, and on the way home Simon told me that he was now on board and we could start the adoption process. I wanted to throw up. It was not the crying, laughing celebration of victory I had imagined. It was the scariest thing I had experienced in a long time. But it’s right. Then God reminded me, “be vulnerable.”
So, here I am, being vulnerable. We are asking you to please pray for us, for our boys, and especially for Sonja Ruth. There are a lot of reasons why this won’t work, but God is bigger than any of them, and this is about God. Our house is small, just over 1100 square feet, but we have one room that can be emptied and made into a bedroom. We do not have the money to pay for all of the adoption fees, but I know God will provide. He has already provided the two most important things I needed—my husband and my boys want to do this. So, please pray for Sonja Ruth, that she would know she has a heavenly Father who loves her and who is watching over her. Pray that she would know that she has a mom and dad and three awesome brothers who love her and can’t wait to meet her. Pray that her biological mom would be healthy and would come to know Jesus. Pray that Sonja Ruth shines with the light of Christ, so that all who know her know will know her King. Pray that God would be glorified in a huge way through every step of this adoption. Pray that all the obstacles would be removed. And finally, pray that I would continue to be vulnerable. Thanks.