The Slow Grace of Time

Last night I snuggled cozily into an overstuffed chair with my seven-year-old son on my lap while watching a show about Australian crocodiles. This ordinary moment reminded me how far we’d come – he and I – and how as Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, God really does make everything beautiful in its time. 

In 2013 my husband and I adopted a precious baby girl from China and I soon discovered my expectations for instant attachment and bonding on both sides were completely unrealistic. This led to guilt and feelings of failure. God taught me so much about my own limitations, but also, His limitless capacity for love.

 He also taught me that there is no substitute for time. If the mother-child bond could be easily and quickly replicated, it would not be as beautiful and powerful as it is. Attachment takes time. Deep, abiding love takes time. There are no shortcuts; it cannot be expedited. But when it comes, it is rich and wonderful and miraculous because it was fought hard for. I sometimes stare at Rosie and am in awe that she’s mine. 

These truths were fresh in my mind, two years later, when we brought our son home from China. Thankfully, my expectations were appropriate and my heart was open to God’s timing because Graham was fairly neutral on me for two whole years. He didn’t seek me out or prefer me over anyone else, despite my persistent mothering. But eventually, trust was built and hearts were tended, and here we are five years later, snuggling on the couch. I don’t take it for granted. 

So many times in my life I have longed for, or even expected, an immediate end-goal. I have often fallen prey to coveting the end results I see in others while laziness or discouragement keeps me from pressing on or even beginning. I have wanted to jump ahead, bypass the slog of hard work or painful processing and just arrive at some glorious ending. 

Over the past few years I have realized how powerfully God uses the slow grace of time to accomplish His will, to grow us, to strengthen us, and to make us trustworthy stewards of the good gifts he’s given us. Philippians 1:6 says, “…being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Until we are united with Christ, time will continue to move us forward and God will not stop using it to sanctify us. What a comfort and joy! 

God doesn’t ask us to know everything or do everything perfectly right now, but rather He meets us right where we are at in all our frail humanity. What He does ask is that we rely on His strength and grace to do the thing that He has placed right in front of us, and over time, those most ordinary moments create the unique tapestry of our lives. As the old English poem popularized by Elisabeth Elliott says: 

Many a questioning, many a fear, Many a

doubt, hath its quieting here. Moment by

moment, let down from Heaven, Time,

opportunity, and guidance are given. Fear

not tomorrows, child of the King, Trust them

with Jesus, do the next thing 

The “next thing” in my attachment journey with my children was to daily meet basic needs, to look deep into eyes, to stay near, and to allow God through the medium of time to knit our hearts together. He was faithful to do so. 

I wish someone long ago would have told me that there are no shortcuts for any of life’s most meaningful journeys. God does indeed make all things beautiful in its time. No rushing, just faithfully pressing on and allowing Him to do his good work unto completion. But if I’d had the wisdom to listen, would I have understood? Probably not, for it’s almost as though that piece of information is a shortcut in itself and something that only God can reveal through time.


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.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. I love this. And the lesson is universal, applying not only to adoption and building a mother-child bond, but to any endeavor that takes time and trust.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beth Vice says:

    I love the picture of you sharing this sweet “ordinary” moment with your son, and realizing it was the fruit of time. Doing the next right thing has kind of been my mantra for a while now and I love the way you framed it. Thank you.

    Like

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