The 12-pound black-haired baby had ridden all night on a train through the vast Chinese countryside. She was giddy with exhaustion and passed serenely into my arms. I stared into her familiar eyes—eyes I had stared at for countless hours in grainy orphanage photographs.
Who are you? I wondered. Of course, she was my daughter, but I knew little beyond that—not her preferences, nor her sleep schedule, or the parents who came together to create her and then loved her enough to give her up. This precious girl was a complete mystery to me, but I loved her already.
Two years later we waited in another Chinese government building as our two-year-old son, a new walker on unsteady legs, was led uncertainly to us. It was not a beautiful moment of smiles and hugs, but a heart-breaking confusion of strangers and goodbyes. Tears were shed on both sides when he and his orphanage nanny parted. I whispered a prayer of thanksgiving because my mama-heart could see that my prayers had been answered—my son had been loved, and I was so grateful, for I loved him already.
People often ask what caused Caleb and I to want to adopt and I never know how to answer except with the supernatural truth: The Spirit led us and the Love of Christ compelled us. This may be perplexing to the unbelieving, but I think it is the answer for every believer’s act of love. There is no way to account for it, except that it is an overflow of Christ’s love for us. One of the hardest things to hear as an adoptive parent is, “You’re so amazing.” I know people mean it kindly, but no, we really aren’t. However, Jesus is, and he loves you already
What is this love— this love that wells up and overflows in inexplicable ways? How exactly does Jesus love us and why does it change us? Jesus Christ, eternal, and present at creation, was beloved of the father, but left heaven and embodied humanity in all its frailty. He arrived as a helpless baby, and as a man experienced exhaustion, hunger, thirst, physical weakness, temptation, betrayal, and grief. Yet He lived a perfect, sinless life, and willingly endured an agonizing death so that I (and you!), sinners falling short of God’s holy and perfect standard, could be reconciled to Him and live with Him forever in heaven. (John 1:3, Matthew 17:5, John 6:38, Luke 2, John 4:6, Matthew 4:2, John 11:35; John 19;28, Luke 23.26, Luke 4, 1 Peter 2:22, Matthew 27, Romans 6:23, Luke 22:48, Colossians 1:22)
I accept and believe these truths (though the depth and breadth and selflessness and sacrifice boggle my mind), and it tells me that I am loved. Deeply. And what can my response be, but to love? Deeply.
In Ephesians 5:17-18, Paul writes,
“…And I pray that you, being rooted and
established in love, may have power,
together with all the Lord’s holy people,
to grasp how wide and long and high
and deep is the love of Christ…”
When we grasp it, we are compelled to share it. One of the ways Christ’s love has manifested in my life is through adoption, but adoption is only one of a million ways to love. Each of us is uniquely created and our opportunities and inclinations to manifest the love of Christ will be as varied as we are. I imagine believers’ lives like a mosaic that catches and reflects different angles of Jesus, who is love perfect and complete.
Sound asleep in my bed the other night, my daughter, the malnourished baby we brought home from China, now a healthy, vibrant 7-year old, awoke me to say there was a stink bug in her room. Its silhouette illuminated eerily by the light of her fish aquarium. I told her to go back to bed and we’d get it in the morning. She returned hesitantly as I laid awake and thought about how much she loathed stink bugs and how she was probably having trouble going back to sleep with it still on the loose. Eventually, I crawled out of my warm bed. She was still awake and worried and very surprised to see me. I quickly took care of the stinkbug, and her sweet, effusive thank-yous made me grateful that I had taken the opportunity to offer up this small act of love, which to her felt huge.
Mother Teresa said, “Do small things with great love.” And really, compared to the love of Christ, aren’t all our acts of love small? As I yawned through that day (for I never did go back to sleep), I was reminded of the love that prompted me to kill a stink bug in the wee hours of the morning, and I prayed that perhaps my daughter caught just a small glimpse of Jesus’ great love for her.
Therefore be imitators of God,
as beloved children. And walk in love,
as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us,
a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.Ephesians 5:1-2
Kara is the wife of 20+ years to Caleb and the mother of 5, including 2 through the miracle of adoption. She and her family live on 8 acres, raising cows, goats, chickens, and turkeys, as well as a large garden. She is passionate about hospitality, mothering, the intersection of farm-life and faith, and finding beauty in the commonplace. She enjoys her classics bookclub, walking her country road, and traveling with her large family. She occasionally blogs at goodgiftsfarm.com, but you can keep up with her more regularly on Instagram @good_gifts_farm.