So much can change in a year.
I am on vacation with my husband’s family this week, a Fields family tradition that I have participated in since Dave and I started dating. As I soak in the calmness of the beach and watch my son play in the waves, I am struck with a deep sense of gratitude and awe. “One year ago, could I ever have imagined this?”
So much can change in a year.
A year ago, we first heard the name Joshua and allowed our hearts to be open to exploring possibility, but it still seemed so unlikely, so far-fetched. I had gotten so used to “not being a parent” that the idea of actually becoming a parent seemed like a cruel joke. I remember thinking to myself, “If only I could be sure this would work out.” I wished for a Back to the Future situation where Future Karin would come to me and tell me how happy I was with my son and how all the struggle and waiting and uncertainty was worth it because, in the end, everything worked out. But I knew that I couldn’t have that kind of assurance. We never really can. That’s where faith comes in.
Often, as a counselor, I work with people who are desperately seeking that kind of assurance from me. “Just tell me my daughter will turn out okay” or “Promise me things will get better”. We just want to know; we want certainty. And the older I get and the more difficult things I live through, the less certainty I have in anything other than God. And I find when I am not trying to control my circumstances or grasp things with a tight fist, I feel free- free to be reckless and free to explore life and its possibilities.
Present-Day Karin understands that if I had known a year ago what I know now, I would have missed out on so many opportunities to take risks and to be forced out of my comfort zone. I wouldn’t have had to fight so hard, emotionally, physically and spiritually, to push through my fears and really experience faith, vulnerability and community. If I had known 3 years ago that I not only would be a mother, but that my child had already been born, I could have spent the next two years just coasting. I could have avoided doctor’s appointments and medication and heartbreak and a substantial amount of time and energy as I waited for the right time to pick up my son. But that wasn’t the plan.
I know that I needed to go through all of the experiences I went through on my journey to motherhood. My personal and spiritual growth the past few years reinforces this, but more than anything, I am humbled by the connections that I have been able to make with so many others through my own experiences. When everything comes easily, it is difficult to truly empathize with the plight of others. My struggles may look different than someone else’s, but there is a comfort and an understanding in knowing that we all have to fight.
In some battles, we may never feel victorious. Some people who yearn to find their life partner never do. Some people strive every day to move beyond desolate living conditions, but it never happens. Some people fight a daily battle against mental illness and past trauma, and eventually become fallen soldiers. We don’t know that everything will turn out okay, but we also don’t know that it won’t. I have come to appreciate this uncertainty and use it as a motivator. Although I can’t control most things, there are some things I do have a say in. I couldn’t control tons of variables in the process of adopting Josh, but I could make the calls. I could get the paperwork done. I could pray. I could surround myself with a loving, supportive community. I could get his room ready and allow myself to hope because I would rather hope than be hopeless.
A year ago, I heard about Josh. I saw his picture (see below) while I was at the beach with my husband’s family, and I sensed that I was supposed to pursue him. When I felt like giving up at one point, I asked God while running on a treadmill at the gym, “How hard am I supposed to fight for this?” What seemed like a rhetorical question became a genuine plea for direction and hope. And on that treadmill with my headphones in, surrounded by people, I heard a voice say, “Harder.” So I did.
When things feel discouraging, or even hopeless, give it a year. It is amazing how much can change in a year.