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 (121)

121 thoughts on "Solitude and Community"

  1. Michelle says:

    We tried to adopt for 3 years and never got matched. Finally after our home study expired we were matched with a little girl. It all looked perfect on paper, but the reality in our home was the complete opposite: chaos and stress for all of us, including her. And we were lacking in support from our agency. After 3 months, we had to stop moving forward with the adoption. It was heartbreaking, and we still don’t understand why we weren’t the right fit. I had to pull away from community for a little while because it was just too hard to keep answering the question of where is she? How’s it going? But in other ways our church family has rallied around us, praying for us and even someone dropping by my house last week with flowers and a card. Jesus knows so well: we need community, but sometimes we just need solitude and Him.

  2. Meghan Wilson says:

    Well said! As an adoptive parent of 4 kids, I can relate to this.

  3. Melissa Graves says:

    Churchmouse, if you’re ever in my neck of the woods, please come over for a cup of tea, some quiet conversation and a few deep belly laughs. You are always welcome here.

  4. sara says:

    as an adoptive parent of 3 and four bios this sang to my soul. We are ever on the pendulum saying back in forth in an effort to grab hold on one side to stay for awhile only to be pulled in the other direction. Thank you thank you thank for this affirmation of love. I am thankful that this world is not our home and life Is but a vapor, one day we will rest and hear well done my good and faithful servant.

  5. Amber says:

    After an especially hard day with one of our four adopted children, this devotion spoke right to me. We too, struggle with looking like we have it together on the outside, but oh so many challenges do we face in our home. I am so grateful that I can give it all to Jesus and trust in His Sovereign plan even when I can’t see the outcome of my current trials. I also trust that He is doing a redeeming work in my daughter.

  6. SC says:

    As a foster parent and now adoptive parent, I have felt this way so many times. Three years after adoption, we are finally stretching our wings and inviting others into our new crazy. We’ve learned who our real friends are and beginning to make new friends. It’s so hard to open our hearts to invite others in. Not only are we trying to protect ourselves, we have three not-so-little ones that we are trying to protect as well. Thank you for your transparency.

  7. Ashley Thomas says:

    Parenthood is no joke. It is a constant barrage of frustration and failure. We must remember you can’t learn anything without first failing. If you get it right the first time, you aren’t learning. I’ve learned to give myself more grace in regards to parenting. While some things were easier with my second child, other things (i.e. sibling fights) are still difficult to handle. I know God doesn’t expect me to be perfect. I know the best thing I can do for my kids is show them the love of Jesus, and let them know how much they are loved by God. When you put Christ in the center of your household, it makes life seem easier because you are not alone.

  8. DG says:

    Thank you for the reminder that all the happy looking families out there are not as perfect as they seem. Sometimes it seems like everyone else is doing so well when actually most of us struggle with something.We definitely don’t need to isolate ourselves.

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