Day 12

Solitude and Community

from the Mourning and Dancing reading plan

Psalm 46:10, Lamentations 3:25-28, Mark 6:30-32, Matthew 11:25-30, Hebrews 10:23-25, Psalm 133:1, Matthew 18:20, Romans 12:4-5, Romans 12:15-19

BY Rebecca Faires

I didn’t adopt because I wanted to make orphans miserable. But in the bumpy jostle of daily family life, between Don’t wake the baby! and Everyone get in bed!, I feel like I’m failing. We pursued adoption because we wanted to help—we wanted to make the world a better place, to shine the light of the gospel. But I didn’t know I would need to shine the light of the gospel at 5am, every day, for so many years. In the process, my flashlight has grown dull and weak.

Every day, my husband and I feel the pendulum swing between the tension of Christ’s invitation to “come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while,” and His admonition to “meet together” in fellowship (Mark 6:31; Hebrews 10:25). After one too many family activities ending in disaster, we’ve learned to let our wounds heal in private and decline the next dinner invitation.

Adoptive parenting has been the most difficult task of my life. It’s been astonishingly isolating, because from the outside, we look like an adorable, bustling, young family. But underneath, I’m clenching my teeth, waiting for the shoe to drop and the next terrible thing to happen. During this season, we’ve felt the tension of pulling out of community activities, playdates, dinners, and visits with family. And I fear that folks won’t understand we are dealing with more than just a case of the wiggles.

But in pulling away from community, we miss out on the real, loving, encouragement and affirmation we need from our people. We imagine disapproval in their eyes and judgment on their brows. Again and again, I have wanted to hide our messy family life because I am sure no one will understand.

One May day just a few years ago, my very, very cute adopted son was singing—with perfect pitch—a Christmas song, while I stood in the checkout line at Goodwill. He has a face like a chipmunk and a voice like a chorister, and he knows it. He’d been singing that song for weeks, and now he was shining his face around to draw the attention and approval of the other adults standing nearby. His endless fishing for applause from strangers touches on my fear that he’s still not quite settled on us as his parents; he’s still interviewing for the position.

Although we can never erase the brokenness that led to his birth parents’ inability to raise him, we are the parents that God has given him. In spite of my commitment to love him, his singing was exhausting and painful at the end of a draining day—on top of six wearying years. For me, his song felt like a jarring syncopation, rattling out the death of my dreams. I asked him to stop singing.

At my left elbow, a woman snorted and leaned away from me. “That sweet little boy wasn’t hurting anything. You should know better than to stop him from singing!” she admonished, shaking her head and looking away. I felt my tired shoulders slump lower, even more resolved to hide our troubled story.

And we have found relief and safety in solitude. We’ve been able to rally our forces and find heart for the next fight. But pulling away from community robs us of its gifts, and neglecting solitude robs us of its replenishing powers.

So we live in the in-between tension of the two. We live like a child on a swing, swaying out a little further and retreating a little further, learning to trust our community and learning to accept the peace of solitude.The further we venture out, the deeper we need to retreat afterward. We don’t have an easy solution, but I am sure about which direction to look for hope. “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” Jesus says (Matthew 11:28). But in this in-between, our hearts are broken every single day. We are rejected and we are befriended. We are lonely and we are loved.

Post Comments (120)

120 thoughts on "Solitude and Community"

  1. Katherine Morgan says:

    As I was reading tonight my sister texted me to let me know that her niece had attempted suicide. P was furious at the situation. I had no idea what to say. I’m a nurse and have worked with parents of children who’ve struggled in this way and immediately went nurse mode (remove emotion, stick to the facts, fake compassion without getting hurt) which may not have been the best solution. I’m thankful for the words of Paul in his letter to the romans “ 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. … Never be wise in your own sight.” Good timing Jesus. Thank you for your nudge into the light.
    If anyone is reading, could you pray for this child, her family and my sister as they stuffed to carry the heavier moments of life.

    1. Rebecca McKisic says:

      I prayed for this tonight. I was a suicidal teen once. The LORD sustained me and still does.

  2. bracciale cartier copia says:

    cartierlovejesduas Wow, number 7!!! – People can be cruel, and sometimes they will be. People can hurt you and break your heart, and sometimes they will. But only YOU can allow them to continuously hurt you. Value yourself enough to choose to spend time with people who treat you the way you treat them. Know your worth. Know when you have had enough.
    bracciale cartier copia

  3. Mishel says:

    I was so encouraged to see you did not end this devo on a note that said “and it is all so much better now that I am trusting in his word”. I find that within the realities and truth of the gospel there are still very hard times that don’t resolve well and God has not pulled me out of those but in the hardship I am working on seeing Him .

  4. Moriah says:

    This is my life right now and was so encouraging to read…adoption is the absolute hardest thing I’ve ever done and most do not understand. We adopted twins and I have two biological as well and life is so exhausting ever day! Helping kids that come from trauma heal is the most intense and humbling thing we have ever done…whoever you are that wrote this, thank you!!!!!!! It was so comforting to just know someone else feels this way about their adoption situation too! It can be so isolating! I just want to hug you and have a good cry together about how unexpectedly hard this journey is!

  5. Tina says:

    Thank you. This word ministered to my soul…

  6. Untidy says:

    This spoke to me as it reflects the pain and joy of my own life. I’ve appreciated exploring the bible this past while in a way that recognises the complexity of human beings. I often feel that Hod is much more emotionally complex than we even realise and I’m so thankful for that.

    1. Untidy says:

      That was *God* not *Hod*…oops!

  7. I’m an adoptive mama with two RAD kids. I get it, and thanks for sharing your heart. ❤️

  8. Simone McKelvey says:

    I’m so grateful for this study and for this woman who is able to share the struggle. None of us are super woman but it is hard not to try to live like that. My busy is not that of a wife or mother since I am single. I was recently promoted and while I search for an Assistant Director, I do two jobs. I also own a small home-based business which I hope will grow. I sing on our church worship team too. I haven’t been to our mid-week service in a month and have not signed up to help with an outreach happening in two days. I am in recovery from people pleasing so in knowing that I need to care for myself, I struggle with the perceived judgment of people who don’t know that I am on overload. I know that God has kept me healthy during this temporary craziness. There are moments where I feel like I am drowning. At the same time, I feel like God is with me and know that I am choosing to move closer to him. I know that I won’t make it otherwise. So I cry during my times alone and rest in the fact that this overwhelming time is not permanent. I also am grateful for the blessing of a job I enjoy, a business and a church where Christ is preached.

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