Happy-Sadness in Adoption by Kim
What do you say when people ask you how you’re doing? Fifteen years ago my standard response would have been, “fine” – no matter what was really happening. But then I “randomly” sat down next to a boy I didn’t know at all and asked him how he was doing…and he actually told me! He told me that he just broke up with his girlfriend and he was trying to figure out if they could still be friends, and on, and on, and on…and after I picked up my jaw off the floor I actually shared my experience. And we had a real conversation. It felt awkward at first because he was sharing so much, but his honesty gave me permission to share my experience. And it was refreshing to feel like I got a glimpse of who someone really was!
And since then, I’ve been ruined to pat answers. (I suppose that might also be because I went on to marry that boy). I’ve been trying to figure out how to tell others what I’m feeling these days. Honestly, I’m a little all over the place emotionally. I’m happy, anxious, excited, fearful, sad. Sometimes all within minutes of each other. I promise I’m emotionally stable. Not because I don’t feel these things – but because I don’t act on these things.
But, this mingling of emotions reminds me of a reality that has become increasingly more prevalent now that I’m an adult. It’s the concept of “happy-sadness.”
The reality is that joy and sadness often mix within the adult life. The dichotomy of living with both is prevalent constantly. I didn’t intend to look for instances of happy-sad. In fact, I rather naively believed that you could avoid sadness if you made all the right choices. I thought if I worked hard and did what was best I could control my life. Whatever sadness would come – would be of my own doing. Whatever happiness I experienced – I suppose was my decision too. It was a naive opinion. And a prideful one. And then life happened. Uncontrollable. Broken. Unexpected. And somewhere along the way I learned that my circumstances and my emotions weren’t always compatible. Whether by wisdom or fear, I tended to spend a significant amount of time sitting in the tension of happy-sad. Excited and happy one moment and fearful and sad the next – sometimes both at once.
I’ve been thinking about this because it is my dominant emotion in this season of waiting. In the adoption process there’s a lot of waiting. Sometimes you wait patiently, sometimes you wait busily, and sometimes you wait emotionally. This waiting season is the emotional one…because, we are matched! A brave woman saw something in us that connected with someone in her. And she decided to journey through life with us. It’s super exciting – but it’s also really hard.
Journeying through this stage means trying to form an instant and deep bond with someone we live far away from and naturally have little in common with. Our life experiences have been wildly different and our current circumstances make it seem like we come from different worlds. We try to empathize and therefore we feel deeply with her as she faces her own uncertainty, sadness and fears.
This is the view from the natural world. It’s sad. It’s hard. It’s broken. But journeying through this stage also means honoring someone exactly where he or she is while praying and hoping through their potential. It means seeing your life through the eyes of someone else’s experience. It means committing to love while love grows. It’s being joyful about new life, because new life is a miracle. This is the view from the spiritual world. It’s exciting. It’s important. It’s hopeful. And this is the filter we strive to exist in. Keeping in mind both the pain and the peace. Allowing ourselves to feel the fear and the hope.
There is a time for mourning and a time for dancing. There are seasons when one emotion may monopolize most of your days. But more often, I believe there’s a reality that exists only in this present world. Sadness and joy. Brokenness and wholeness. All intertwined in to a surprising and beautiful reality. The sadness brings completion to the joy. The brokenness helps you to deeply appreciate when things are made whole.
It’s important to remember these are earthly lessons. Worldly trials. It’s an opportunity to know the heart of a Father that will one day express love in a different way. We won’t need to trust him in brokenness when all is made whole. We won’t have to love him in sadness when he wipes every tear from our eyes. One day all will be healed. There will be no more brokenness. No need for hope. No prideful views. No stubborn will that needs to submit.
But today – and probably tomorrow – I will live in the tension of happy-sadness. Content to take the hard with the easy. And hopeful to lean in and learn more about the heart of my Father, while the opportunity to experience him in this way is still possible.
Cry and laugh today friends. Both are good!