By Krystal Ribble
My journey to adoption was not one I ever planned.
God showed me the face of a little girl in the hallway of a church in Wisconsin, and I was forever changed.
Had I known that day my whole life would flip upside down—that I would chase her, and then lose her, and then lose two more adoptions after her, only to end up on an island in the Caribbean holding a 3-year-old boy who needed me—I would have done it all over again.
It’s amazing how even when God drags you through many raging storms, you can look at the sunshine after them and be willing to walk through it all over again just to see that sunrise one more time.
I realized after completing our adoption with our oldest son, I was no longer the same girl I was in the church hallway that Sunday morning. That day was the beginning of a whole barrel of lessons God had yet to show me.
These are three of the lessons I learned (and have now been able to apply to every other situation in my life).
1. My heart was never intended to be my own
The Lord gives us a heart (not the actual life-giving organ, but the emotions that propel us to relationships and implementing His loving plan to this world) for a reason. I always knew I had a big heart and a large capacity for whatever God would call me to. However, until the moment God introduced me to the first orphan I would fight for, I didn’t know what it would be like for my heart to be given away in such a manner.
I was a newlywed at the time, and of course my husband had my heart, but this was different.
This was love attached to a longing for a child to know the safety of a family—to be able to understand humanly what I have with my heavenly Father spiritually.
I was never meant to hold onto the love God has created in me. I was always meant to give it away. For you see, this love is not mine to begin with. This type of love is the Lord’s, and He has a plan for how His love is distributed to His creation. I am a vessel for the pouring out of His love.
“My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways” (Proverbs 23:26).
Can you give Him your heart? Can you let Him love the world through you?
2. My neighbors are more than acquaintances
I’ve seen through adoption how connected we are as a human race. One man’s vulnerability is deeply connected to our own shortcomings and insecurities. I believe this is because we’re all created in the same image, and that is the image of God.
Thus, when I understand my neighbor’s hurts and struggles, I feel the connection we all have with one another.
My son, though he does not biologically share my blood, is deeply connected to me and who I am, as I am to him and who he is.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is, Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these” (Mark 12: 30-31).
Can you look at your neighbor today and know their life is connected to yours? Can you then enter their life when the opportunity allows and be life-giving to all of their hurts and fears and struggles?
3. Jesus wouldn’t be sitting with me if He were physically here on this earth right now
I’m not sure about you, but when I try to picture Jesus here on the earth right now, I picture Him worshiping in church while standing right beside me.
However, the first time I stepped foot inside the courtyard of an orphanage in Ukraine, I knew exactly where He would be; He would have been there.
If we go back and read all the stories about Jesus in the Bible, He seldom spent His time with a girl like me, who has the world at her fingertips. He was often with those hurting the most, those needing Him the most.
While I have times in my life that I need Him in exponential ways, all of the orphans I come in contact with show me who His heart has always been for.
Now, when I see a homeless person, or a single mom, or a person who has lost their way morally, or a widow/widower who has lost their love, or (insert any other person here), I see in their eyes a side of the Kingdom where Jesus has just barely drawn the curtains back for me.
“But you yourself have seen trouble and grief, observing it in order to take the matter into your hands. The helpless one entrusts himself to you; you are a helper of the fatherless” (Psalm 10:14).
“Provide justice for the needy and the fatherless; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute” (Psalm 82:3).
If Jesus would be with the poor, the oppressed, the grief stricken, the fatherless, so then, where should we be?
My call to adopt has challenged my normal everyday life in ways I could have never imagined; and every moment of it has made me better for it. What will you let God do with your most challenging circumstances?
Krystal is a college minister, a freelance writer, and speaker living in Nashville, Tennessee. She is a wife, a #boymom of two, and spends her free time on both domestic and international adoption advocacy.