"Are you excited?" Since getting travel dates set for going to China, I have probably been asked this question the most. It is a very natural question, and if I were on the other end of the conversation, I would probably be asking it of someone else as well. I always appreciated when I got this question because I knew the person asking it was expressing interest and joy in the journey of adoption we were on. Yet despite understanding this about the question, when it was posed, I never quite knew how to answer it.
Am I excited? Well, yes, of course. Who wouldn't be excited about adopting a little girl whom the Lord has called you to? Following Jesus is an exciting way to live life.
For over a year now, I've stared at a few small pictures of a little girl from China who I never met but already loved. For over a year now, she has been a picture on my screen and a person that I talked about. However, right now I am on a plane 36,000 feet in the air and a mere 3,930 miles away from all of that changing. Some say I am flying to China. But in my mind, I am flying into that picture. In a few short days, Liliana will go from being a picture to being a reality. She will go from being a person I talk about to being a person I talk to. The hopes and dreams of adoption will soon become the reality of adoption. What an exciting and wild idea!
Yet at the same time, excited does not begin to capture the emotions going on right now. The reality of adoption is often far less pretty than the dream of adoption. The reality includes a child who has experienced pain, hurt, abandonment, and who does not know what it means to be a family. It includes times of laughter and joy, and times of weeping and struggle. It includes so much more than I can imagine. So "excited" just touches upon one piece of it. However, this reality of adoption, as easy or difficult as it may be at times, is ultimately more rewarding than any dream of adoption can be ... for it is filled with relationships.
Relationships are so important in life, and yet they are often the first thing ignored. God Himself demonstrated how much relationships matter not by just telling us about Himself but by taking the time to come in the flesh and live life with us. Even now, thousands of years after Jesus lived, we can still have a relationship with Him. In many ways, Jesus' journey to earth and sacrifice is a picture of adoption ... for because of it, we can be adopted into God's family.
Speaking of family, that's another aspect of this journey that is difficult ... leaving behind all those whom you love, even for just 17 days, to go to China and bring Liliana home. Yes, it is only a short time, but somehow that does not stop the tears from coming when you kiss your wife good bye, snuggle with your four kids one last time, and head off to catch a train to the airport. Skype and email will help, but again, it is not the same as being there. I also am missing extended family, friends, church, and colleagues at school. Yet that longing, that missing of people, is only a testimony to how richly God has blessed me with wonderful relationships.
I am reminded of a quote from C.S. Lewis. When Mr. Beaver is asked by the children who have just arrived in Narnia if Aslan the lion is dangerous, Mr. Beaver replies, "Dangerous? Well of course He's dangerous. But He's good." Perhaps that quote best captures how I could have answered the question "Are you excited?". Perhaps it best captures the reality of this journey, of this experience, and of following Jesus wherever He may call you. Thankfully, when He calls you, He walks the journey with you no matter what.