That is what someone told me when in her enthusiasm for adopting I felt compelled to exhort her to have a community of support readily available to her family. Any child who has suffered the trauma of separation from his or her mama is already in need of special attention and care, and some children struggle more than others in attaching to their new families, even if they were infants at adoption. This is experiential knowledge to any adoptive parent, and several I personally know. She readily agreed about the potential hardships, and enthused, “But it’s worth it!”
I remember wishing I had this rare joy in potential (or even probable) tribulation. But even with advance notice, nothing really prepares you for the actual journey through most of marriage (or not), fertility (or not), motherhood, homemaking, and more. There are plenty of moments where you do wonder if “it” is “worth it”.
Two of our children have Down syndrome. Some of you remember Ruby’s birth and my subsequent disappearance from blogging. Down syndrome is challenging. From the birth itself, to overcoming health problems, to trying to get a handle on what to do, when, why, and how. Of course, my girls are “worth it”…they’re my daughters. But sometimes it’s hard when people send news of other kids with Down syndrome for “encouragement”: one is Homecoming Queen, one speaks four languages, one owns his own business, one models. Our celebrations are more humble: Ruby stopped pooping her pants, doesn’t throw her dishes off the table anymore, and can pump her own legs on a swing.
I succumb to only showing the happy moments, too. It’s precious to see her smile or starting to read…but no one wants to hear her grind her teeth or throw a tantrum. Other “normal family” moments are rare. We can’t take long walks or nature hikes. We hardly go to restaurants. She needs to be monitored all of the time with a GPS tracker because she likes to run off. Reading aloud (including devotionals) to everyone is difficult, if not impossible. And so on.
There’s a reason we’re quick to gloss over the troubles of any kind. Because sometimes people actually say things like you brought it upon yourself, or you’re being punished by God. Because enough friends have quietly disappeared. Because other people who have become practical PhD’s on your child’s condition or discipline problems or marital issues make you feel small. Because, and especially because, life is a precious gift no matter what challenges our children may have, and we don’t want to discourage baring or loving them. Every child, indeed all of US, have “special” needs. Furthermore, every marriage goes through those “for worse” or “in sickness” times that were accurately predicted even on the wedding day. There must be something transcendent to foresee these things, experience them, and still say wholeheartedly, “It’s worth it!” We don’t need to gloss over the troubles, but we do need to maintain a steadfast faith that the end of all things are somehow for our good in Christ Jesus no matter how difficult things may look.
We need to define what “worth it” really means, because sometimes it’s the antithesis of humility and trust, of looking away from the cross, in order to behave selfishly. Self-love leads inevitably to compulsive self-serving, instead of looking after the things of Christ. Every difficulty is “worth it” when knowing God is faithful and kind. He doesn’t expect us to have our ducks in a row ahead of time, to know what is coming tomorrow. Even on the hardest days, God is working in His children all for His glory, and we will not be unchanged in the process of becoming more like Christ. This enthusiastic adoptive parent was far from being selfish; she knew where real treasure lay and was setting about the journey by faith in the joy to come, whether in her lifetime or beyond the veil.
How could there be such joy in the hard things? It seems other-worldly, and I suppose it is. I am weak, I do not know all of the answers or the why’s. But I know my Redeemer lives, and I know Whom I have believed, and so every new challenge in my life is, truly, “worth it”. So I will look forward to the paths to come–including our newest baby due this December, our ninth. I know in my heart of hearts the continued journey through motherhood WILL be worth it, Christ be praised.