Wednesday, April 25, 2018

I Can Only Imagine

This past week, Angela treated me to the movies, a first for just she and I to go together.  Giggling in line, we decided we ought to do this more often as we are the only two in the family who have similar taste in films, as Olesya tends to lean towards the more action oriented flicks that all the boys (and yes, Dominick too!) enjoy.  In our town we have an old fashioned theater with three screens including one above the two lower ones, called The Penthouse.  There, with our drinks and snacks in hand, we settled into our seats and quietly whispered to one another through the previews, noting upcoming films we might want to make certain to catch.

The main feature finally began, and there we sat, side by side, silently taking it in.  The film was the relatively new release, I Can Only Imagine, which tells the life story of Brett Millard, the young man who penned the lyrics to the MercyMe hit song of the same name, which went on to be the #1 best selling Christian song of all time. 

The powerful story of brokenness, child abuse, alcohol abuse, and ultimate forgiveness and redemption was one that for different reasons resonated deeply with both Angie and I.  Sadly, we have both had to deal with these issues in our lives in various ways, and yet it is also what binds us together, an unspoken tether tying our empathetic and perceptive hearts to one another.  It is this "knowing", I feel, that helped us to move beyond Angie's fear of letting go and trusting me as her mom.  Despite the turmoil and grief such experiences caused each of us, I am personally thankful that God allowed me to have intimate knowledge of addiction, neglect, and great loss, without which I might not have had the wisdom and understanding to allow a bridge to be built that each of us walked to the middle of to find one another.

Leaving the theater, we were quiet, and  gentle conversation came up on the way home, tears were shed, love was shared. 

I can't quite shake a different message from Brett Millard's story, however.  While his lyrics were about meeting Jesus in heaven for the first time, my mind moves in a very different direction when I think of the title.

I Can Only Imagine...what my childrens' lives might have been like had they been born into better circumstances.

I Can Only Imagine...what Dominick and I might be like today had we not stepped on that first flight to Kazakhstan that led us to the orphanage doorstep, where we found 11 month old Matt terribly malnourished, in isolation for days, and already trained by circumstance that crying out was a useless endeavor, for no one was coming. 

I Can Only Imagine...what futures might have held for some of our kids whose brains have been damaged, whose souls have been so carelessly disregarded, had they had a different beginning.

I Can Only Imagine...the grief...or lack thereof (for I never presume to know) of birth parents who either selflessly placed their children in orphanages, were confused and had no idea what to do, or who simply went on to casually live lives unhindered by the burden of caring for their child.

I Can Only Imagine...a world where all children are nurtured and lovingly cared for, even if living in poverty, for love matters most.

I Can Only Imagine...the fears that accompanied being adopted, for it is still leaving behind all that is familiar and relatively safe. 

I Can Only Imagine...what our own birth children would look like, and yet their visages never fully formed in my own mind, almost as if some part of me knew that was unnecessary for there would one day be five precious ones whose eyes I would stare deeply into, whose smiles would light up my life, and whose hearts would be wrapped up in my own.

I Can Only Imagine...the life ahead for each and every one of us, bound by love and commitment, gingerly moving forward toward new loves, and new lives, but always firmly rooted in Family.

We celebrated Angie's 20th birthday shortly afterward, and as I look at the photos I see resilience of the sort many would never guess at, and a joy reflected that has just a smidgen of sorrow beneath the surface that will likely always remain.  But, when one thinks about it, don't we all have that same little pocket of sorrow buried deep within, barely perceptible by others, emptied only in rare moments of private contemplation?  We all carry our secrets, our sacred sorrows shared only with the most trusted and intimate companions in our lives.

We are all broken, and if blessed, mended as well.  Some will walk around unhealed their entire lives, hardened, unwilling to trust or move away from harmful relationships, slowly sinking.  Some though, will remind us all that forgiveness changes us perhaps far more than the forgiven.  Some will remind us that even the most shattered lives can be made whole.  Some will model for us how we can be restored.

There once was a time, as we waited 5 long heartbreaking years to bring Angela and Olesya home, when I said to myself I Can Only Imagine...

That night this past week, sitting side by side in the car, looking into the eyes of one of my beautiful daughters who I longed for desperately, prayed for unceasingly, and worked to bring home endlessly, my heart heaved an enormous sigh of relief that I no longer had to imagine, but could reach out and comfort her, hold her, and wipe away her tears.

I Can Only Imagine...Angela 20 years from now...confident, caring, and kind.  In fact,  maybe I don't have to imagine it, because that version is already right before me.  She may eventually be more of all she is now, but she has all she needs and is indeed that model of how we all can be restored through faith, through love, through forgiveness of others.

I love you forever, I like you for always, 
as long as I'm living, 
my baby you'll be.    
Love, Mom

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