Over the last several weeks, I have had many well-intended people question my decision to visit Sweet Mama in prison. I know the concern is for the protection of our family. I understand their unease. I, too, have sought the Lord multiple times, this week.
How did we get, here?!?!
With each question, the Holy Spirit would answer with Matthew 25:35-36.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
My friend and I made the long drive together. She gripped my hand, tightly, and prayed for God's presence, before I walked in. I didn't have the slightest bubble of nerves.
I had to wait in a holding room for two hours before I could see her. I didn't have my phone or a book. I just sat there and prayed. I listened to the sad stories around me. There were many family members visiting prisoners that day and the mood was heavy.
The air was so thick, I pushed through tears, all afternoon.
I had called the facility earlier to make sure I would be able to see her after making the long drive. The officer on duty said, "You must be Rebekah? You're the only person on her list."
Those few words broke my heart and set the tone for the hours before our visit.
I made eye contact with her from across the room while I was stopped at the third security station. When I passed the final inspection, I nearly ran to her and grabbed her as tight as I could. She sobbed and hugged me back with all her strength.
She kept apologizing for her tears, but I told her I wasn't in a hurry. She could cry for as long as she needed. She asked me a hundred questions in rapid succession. We started with Cisco and exhausted every topic on all three kids. I was happy to share our life with her, as I can only imagine the loneliness that eats through her days.
She asked me if it was hard to say yes to bringing home another baby when the agency called about Baby Brother. I only know how to be genuine, so I shared my heart and the emotions that came before our "yes".
She interrupted me halfway through and said, "I'm glad you brought this up."
"This is what I have been wanting to talk to you about."
I braced myself for one of the many questions Ben and I imagined she would ask.
"I would like to have him back...what I mean to say is, I am going to fight to take him back."
I was shocked speechless. We, literally, sat staring at each other for a minute without a word.
When my life - turned TV movie - started playing, again, a thousand thoughts rushed through my head. I am a confident girl who is not afraid of silence - uncomfortable or otherwise. So, I just sat there. I really didn't know what to say. Mama started in about the attorney she is meeting with, her hopes for a strong case, the brokenness in her heart, and the guilt she fights.
I never took my eyes from her.
After her ten minute monologue she looked at my face and said, "How does this make you feel?"
It took everything in me not to laugh. The humor was not in the seriousness of the conversation. I had to push down the giggles because of all the many questions Ben and I prayed and prepared answers for, THIS WAS NOT ONE OF THEM.
I took a breath and very lovingly and kindly said this. "My mama heart understands exactly why you want to do this and even respects your desire to fight. But, I am his mother, too. And as hard as you are going to fight, I am going to fight harder. Your kids have experienced trauma, but they find security in each other. If you saw the love that exists between them - the rolling, belly laughs that only Edie can get from Baby Brother - you would never try to pursue this."
Tears started streaming her face.
"You asked me to always be honest with you, even if the truth would hurt your heart. Baby Brother's adoption will be final in a few weeks. There is nothing you are going to be able to say or do to have the judge reverse his decision. If you follow your heart on this, you are only giving yourself false hope and I don't want to see you even more devastated on the other side."
I took her through the judge's instructions at the end of the termination trial to help her remember that her decision was irrevocable. That she agreed she was not impaired or coerced in any way to sign over her rights. I asked her if she remembered when the judge told her that "changing your mind" is not grounds for an appeal and that the time for filing an appeal has long since lapsed.
She buried her face in her hands and sobbed. I just sat, quietly, and waited.
After several minutes, she calmed. With puffy eyes, she said, "Okay. I won't fight. Hearing you say that you would fight harder, reminds me that you love him as much as I do. I won't fight. You can be his mom."
Looking back, I understand that this is EXACTLY the scenario that keeps adoptive parents bound to fear. But, if I gave in to all of the [completely] rational fears I have had over the last several years, I would have limited God's ability to move in my life. I, certainly, wouldn't be mother to five, and I would have been settling for a pretty mediocre supply of blessing.
I want to live in overflow - every day.
There was absolutely a part of me that wanted to get up from our meeting, walk out on Sweet Mama, and never look back. It would be easy (and justifiable) to convince myself that she is not worth the energy.
But....if I had done that....how would I reconcile Matthew 25? How would I make an account that the Lord asked me to go to him in prison, but I was too uncomfortable?
Our [admittedly] crazy conversation strengthened our friendship. If I had turned my back on Mama, I would have missed my reward. I wouldn't have been able to offer her hope or stomp on the lies of the enemy or hear her parting words, when we hugged:
"Thank you....Thank you for being the only person that treats me like a human being."
I hope this challenges you to increase the depth of your love.
Shove your fears into a closest.
Pray for wisdom.
And invite someone in.
Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did for me.