I held him the other night as tears ran down his face.
He's the only son I've been able to know and love from before he was born. I got the privilege of watching him grow from inside of me, and as he grew it caused me to grow as well. The physical growing was just the beginning of the personal and spiritual growth that was to come.
Like most moms I have felt the crippling desire to protect, but I've learned in my helplessness where true protection lies, and it wasn't in the safe places I would have initially chosen for him.
So while he was still tiny we chose a different path for him. We chose for him to know pain and suffering intimately because somewhere along the way we decided that it was scarier for us to live blind to the darkness then it was for us to live amidst it.
As I held all seven years of him against my chest, I was scared to ask him why he was crying, I was scared to hear the sources of his pain...
"I'm just so sad that he was alone."
I felt the wave of emotion steal my breath as tears began to fall down my cheeks too. In that moment me and this son who I once guarded on the inside cried together because it hurts to be hurt by those you love, but more than anything, our tears came from knowing that hurts don't come from people who aren't hurting themselves.
I knew the tears on my son's face were the result of empathy.
I had just gotten done explaining to him why his brother does some of the things he does, that he isn't doing them to be mean, he does them because sometimes his body remembers when he was alone and that makes him scared and he can't control what he does when he's in that scared place (read: trauma). We don't talk about this often, but we're in a season of struggle right now where the darkness we took our adopted son out of seems to overshadow him again at times. We are desperately praying and seeking for the best way to help him through this, but it's required a lot of time, energy, and tears and it's affected our whole family.
"What can we do to help him?" he asked
We love him like Jesus, I replied. Remember when Jesus was on the cross and the people around Him were being so mean. Remember how they spit on Him and shouted terrible things... do you remember what Jesus did? He looked up to Heaven and said "Father forgive them, for they don't know what they're doing."
"He doesn't know what he's doing."
"We love him like Jesus, honey. We respond to his hurt and his hurting with love."
"Even though those people hurt Jesus he still gave everything for them."
When I looked down at Landon I saw a little boy who is coming to understand this God of such radical love.
When we were in the process to adopt there were a lot of people who thought we were crazy for pursuing it when Landon was so young. They told us to think about his best interest, but what they couldn't understand was that... we were. God had brought us to a place where we had realized that we couldn't just tell Landon about the love of Christ if we were unwilling to walk out that love in the way God was asking us to. We knew that above all, we wanted Landon to know Jesus, the One who washes dirty feet and turns the other cheek and we knew that knowledge wouldn't come pain-free.
I looked into the face of my seven year old the other night and I saw a child who was more saddened by the pain of his brother than his own.
I looked into the face of my seven year old and I saw an answered prayer.
I looked into the face of my seven year old, with his toothless grin and his tear streaked face and I saw the reflection of Jesus.
Maybe it's because it's so personal to me now, but when I read the gospel I can't help but read it through the lens of adoption. Jesus was the epitome of mission minded and his birth was the Father announcing, "I choose you." I choose you just as you are with all of your hurts, in all of your sin, with all of your scars, I choose you. I choose you before you ever tell me you love me or accept what I have done for you. I choose you knowing that you may never choose me back. I choose you knowing the pain and anguish it will cause me.
Jesus' birth was God in flesh entering the world we had broken by not choosing him, and making our wrongs right, by choosing us. Taking all of our brokenness on himself, feeling all of our feelings, and in the end overcoming all the sin, darkness, and brokenness so we could have a new future and a living hope. Whether you're adopted or have adopted or not, that's your story too.
I hope each of us takes the time to ponder that this Christmas season.
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:4-5