Job 42:10-17 (NASB)
10 The Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the Lord increased all that Job had twofold.11 Then all his brothers and all his sisters and all who had known him before came to him, and they ate bread with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversities that the Lord had brought on him. And each one gave him one piece of money, and each a ring of gold. 12 The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; and he had 14,000 sheep and 6,000 camels and 1,000 yoke of oxen and 1,000 female donkeys. 13 He had seven sons and three daughters. 14 He named the first Jemimah, and the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch.15 In all the land no women were found so fair as Job’s daughters; and their father gave them inheritance among their brothers. 16 After this, Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons and his grandsons, four generations. 17 And Job died, an old man and full of days.
After all was said and reconciled, Job’s deliverance from life’s great storm came to pass. It was a deliverance arriving in abundance. Still, I wish we had more insight into Job’s heart in those post-storm days. The final words in the book say Job died an old man and full of days. “Full of days.” In the Hebrew, the word used for “full” is ““sabea” – meaning sated, satisfied, abounding. He died satisfied, abounding with a life lived, once again Job thrived. Does this mean Job had reconciled the experience, the battle, the injustice? And if so, how long did that take? Was it an instant healing as soon as repentance came, or was it a gradual process back to fullness over his next 140 years of life? Were those early years of restoration still a battle of their own merit? I wonder, if handed a mirror in the months following his deliverance from attack, would Job have recognized himself? Or had the battle altered him so deeply he was left someone unknown even to his own heart?
“Am I a man when I feel like a ghost?
The stranger in the mirror is wearing my clothes”
Friday marked two months home with our Lulu. Two months beyond the greatest storm of our lives to this point. Two months of gratitude and celebration for our own deliverance and restoration. But also two months of reality heaped upon me, deferring those days of “sabea” I naively expected. I am left in a place far less than thriving, a place I scarcely recognize and dare I say, a place feeling more foreign than the brutal conditions from inside the storm we lived for months. In the storm, my helplessness was palpable, my desperation for God’s sustaining presence as constant as each breath I took. It was there, I felt Him near and heard His constant voice, carrying me through. Is it possible it was there, in the storm, where I thrived?
“I come alive when I hear you singing
But lately I haven’t been hearing a thing and
I get the feeling that I’m in between
A machine and a man who only looks like me”
I know enough to know God hasn’t gone anywhere. He is as close now as He was in the darkest of nights I experienced in getting Lu home to us. If God is still right here, then where have I gone? What is blocking the path between His voice and my heart? And how is it I can be myself one beautiful day in Ethiopia, board a plane only to step foot back home someone altogether unrecognizable?
“Been fighting things that I can’t see
Like voices coming from the inside of me and
Like doing things I find hard to believe in
Am I myself or am I dreaming?
I try and hide it and not let it show
But deep down inside me I just don’t know
Am I a man when I feel like a hoax?
The stranger in the mirror is wearing my clothes”
Maybe I am going too far for the sake of honesty, as not many talk about the aftermath of battle. Specifically in adoption, I think we fear ever admitting it is not complete heaven 24/7, because God did answer our prayers after all, our baby is home. Our prayer was answered when so many friends remain in agony of wait, or even harder yet, find themselves facing answers far from what they had prayed and believed for. How dare I not be oozing smiles? How dare I? There is shame in the lackluster. We fear letting our community down when thoughts are not full of rainbows and puffy hearts. And if I have let you down by my absence of unicorns, I get it. I have let myself down, so believe me, I get it. Good grief, what I wouldn’t give for some dang unicorns.
“No, I’m not alright
I know that I’m not right
Feel like I travel but I never arrive
I wanna thrive not just survive”
The hope of a future of thriving lies in past experience of such. Again, I am curious if Job held on to his hope, his integrity because of the days of thriving he had once experienced prior to the storm of testing wreaked havoc on his world. I, too have once been washed in days that thrived. I have felt the difference of life asleep and life alive, and now finding myself in a place less than, I know I’m not alright. This is another time, another place I know I cannot set up camp in. I know I won’t be staying long. I just don’t know exactly how to find my way out, or when that door may open up. And so here I stand, staring at that stranger in the mirror, praying for some glimpse of someone known, clinging to the Truth I know will surface if I stay open to hear the words. It is the same Truth I clung to here and here, only now I have to find a way to make it real to me here.
“I get so down, but I won’t give up
I get so down, but I won’t give up”*
I won’t give up. And on the very off-chance this post hasn’t left you hitting “unsubscribe” and off in search of rainbows on some other well-adjusted person’s blog, I hope you won’t give up either. In whatever aftermath you may be facing, don’t give up. We may not know how or when or even why, but one day we will again thrive.*lyric excerpts from “Thrive” by Switchfoot