A 5-year old cart-wheeling, prank-pulling, heart-stealing ninja-boy just closed his sparkly eyes to pray, gave me a kiss, and fell asleep on my chest.
This afternoon, he stomped out a new shopping cart song with every new aisle in the grocery store. The cilantro spilled everywhere, and the paper napkins went flying as he sang his own lyrics: “Jesus is my family. I love you Jesus.”
He calls me Mama.
More than two years ago, I heard God speak.
He said, “You will adopt Lifa. He is your son.”
Before the grocery store, Lifa and I sat in the hallway of a hospital, passing out chocolate chip cookies. Three-year old Given has been there since before Christmas due to extensive burns.
I watched Given’s siblings and cousin watch Given. They were together for the first time in months because we got special permission. I watched the shock, the toll of separation, and felt every heart strain as twins, Kevin and Given, were afraid to look at each other.
While I watched this family stumble to love, the nurses asked me to take one of the other children home for the weekend. “He’s so lonely. And he’s so naughty. Maybe you can talk to the manager.” Elton came to the hospital months and months ago for injuries related to abuse. Now he just lives there because it’s not safe to go home. He doesn’t even have his own bed or anything that’s his. He just lives in a hospital. He’s five.
While Given shied away from his own family…
While Elton clamored for my attention and more cookies…
While Lifa made really uncomfortable and uncanny observations a little too loudly…
While Chantelle, with the oozing, reeking bandages hid quietly beside me…
While we still sat on the floor in the hallway of a hospital…
Given’s cousin, Thami, curled up against me and said, only loud enough for me to hear, that he wanted to live with his sister, Nandi, in foster care. He didn’t want to live with his mom anymore. He was scared to go home. He’s six, and he asked to go to foster care.
I’ve read the red-letter words of Jesus.
He said, “I come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
All of this was today.
And I know it’s all out of order, and it probably doesn’t make much sense.
Welcome to the inside of my head and my heart. Everything scrambled. Especially the words in red.
God said those words.
Jesus died for those words.
So what is this?
Since the time God spoke about Lifa, that perfect little man-child has most-definitely become my son. But literal, legal, physical adoption, as adoption is defined by this world, seems further and further away. Have I gotten it all wrong?
And where exactly is the abundance in stranger twins, giveaway kids, and secret pleads for foster care? Families who are scared to be family, kids who don’t have a family anymore, and kids who would rather live in someone else’s family just to be safe? Is this what You died for? Was the cross worth it for this?
My heart got shook up, and I felt something heavy and dark in that hospital hallway today.
And on this day many years ago, the earth shook and the sky went dark.
I can’t imagine the disappointment when the guy who called Himself “king”, the One who said He was there to fulfill all the super-hero messianic prophesies and overcome it all, died the most mortifying death. The words the people read didn’t look like what they thought it would when it played out before them.
What was supposed to be “adoption” and “abundance” looked like a torn piece of cloth, a dead carpenter, and shaking darkness.
For three days.
And on the third day, I don’t think it looks like what we thought it would either.
Which means maybe we need to adjust our vision and our definitions.
Because it’s here.
Lifa now has a mom and a dad. In a really unconventional sort of way.
His father re-entered his life two years ago, wants to learn family, and wants me to be a part of Lifa’s life.
Lifa’s grocery cart song was, “Jesus is my family.”
Lifa sings adoption’s song.
And I release and remember: Jesus laid down his life, hoping that I would sing about His family with cilantro, and longing for me to fall asleep on His chest. When He said I was adopted, when He called me family, it never had to do with whose house I’d live in, what school I’d go to, or what language I speak to Him in.
In hospital hallways, I hear pitter-pattering feet and giggles spewing, “Mama Kacy! Mama Kacy!” before I even set foot in the children’s ward. Oozing bandages and all, Chantelle hides under a bed to surprise me, and then I twirl her down the entire length of the ward. Twins don’t know what to do, but at least they know the other one is ok.
And I cling to hallway hope: Maybe I’ve been understanding adoption and measuring abundance wrong all along. Abundance has nothing to do with how many cookies or even how many parents you have in those hallways.
Abundance is still squealing, still giggling and still twirling when you haven’t seen anything but fluorescent lighting in 6 months… because Abundant’s light is brighter and is burning in you.
It’s Easter y’all.
He rose, and He is shining in a ninja-boy’s eyes and singing in hospital pitter-patters.
There is darkness in his story and pain in those hallways.
Just like my story and my hallways.
But adoption and abundance are louder and more beautiful… and live forever.
And I’d rather be in the cheering section of eternity’s empty tomb than the jeering section of today’s demanding murder tool.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men, yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”