Last week, we applied the truth and insight found in Proverbs to cultivating wisdom and kindness. As we continue our Wise and Kind 31-day Proverbs Reading Challenge, we take a look at how the fullness of God’s word can help us grow emotionally healthy. We hope that you are not only making time to read the Word, but apply the truth to your life with intention.
Remember, you can share what you’re learning with us by commenting on the blog or interacting with our posts on Instagram and Facebook. We love growing spiritually wise together, and we love hearing from YOU!
“Where do you see us in five years? What is one thing we said we were going to do that we probably won’t?” My husband and I had planned our lives out pretty much entirely. We are that couple…or at least we were. I was nine months pregnant when he asked me those questions.
I cringed at my answer. I didn’t even want to say it out loud. “I know we always said we would adopt later, but I just don’t see it.”
We had bought into a lifestyle that was depicted by where we lived.
Two kids, two cars, two incomes, too much! We were both thriving in our careers, had just bought our first house, and were expecting our first child. I knew adoption was expensive, time-consuming, and emotional. It didn’t seem to fit this lifestyle we had purchased.
“I feel the same way,” was my husband’s response.
We realized that our lifestyle was not in line with what God had called us to do. We felt that calling to adopt very strongly, and we were letting the life we had made get in the way. We made a promise right then and there that our next child would join our family through adoption.
It wasn’t our plan, but it was our calling.
Things moved fairly fast after that. Our daughter was born, and it was the greatest joy we had experienced. We kept trying to push the adoption back. We told ourselves we would start the process when she was a year old because of finances, closeness in age, and overall fear of the unknowns. But God kept pushing and knocking. So we let Him in on His timing. We let Him provide. When our daughter was four months old we began the process of adopting from South Korea.
And it was a process!
Paperwork, a home study, fingerprints, doctor appointments, financial statements, notarized everything, employment verification. Basically everything in your life is put into words to show that you are a capable, loving family. Then everything stops. You wait. You pray. And the waiting for me, was unbearable.
To me, being emotionally healthy means being real with myself,
knowing what diverts my focus, and facing emotions head on without hiding them.
But during the adoption process I forgot it all. I couldn’t stand not knowing what was going to happen, not being in control, and not being able to plan it. Our adoption took over two years to complete.
I watched friends have biological children in that time. I saw other adoptions move at lightning speed, and I questioned why our son’s process took so much longer. I saw my faith tested month after month with no word. I wiped tears from my eyes day after day for weeks at a time. I saw my marriage have ups and downs because these were new waters for us. I felt insane jealousy like none other that made me feel weak.
I felt absent and distant from God because I didn’t hear Him anymore. All I heard was the empty silence that no news brings when you are adopting.
“Laughter can conceal a heavy heart,
but when the laughter ends, the grief remains.”
Proverbs 14:13 NLT
I was not okay, but to everyone on the outside I was. I didn’t let anyone in to see my pain or the ugliness I felt from jealousy to regret. But I realized rather suddenly (and after a complete melt down one day) that God’s silence was really His patience with me.
God was waiting for me to listen so that I would hear Him.
He was teaching me and leading me back to Him.
He has the best intentions for my son.
He has the best intentions for our family.
God has the best intentions for me.
I told my husband, my mom, and close family members how I felt. We prayed together, focused on optimism and hope, and I joined an adoption support group. Once we let God in, He radically changed our lifestyle. We moved closer to family. I am now a stay-at-home-mom. We don’t feel the pressures of the lifestyle we had before to act, look, or be a certain way.
We seek to imitate God rather than others.
Thinking back to the adoption process still brings every emotion and hurt to the surface. But being emotionally healthy for me is recognizing the hurt and facing it rather than masking it.
God has given me opportunities to share my story with other adoptive parents to help fully equip them for the journey. I may not be emotionally ready to say, “I would do it all over again,” but if I can see my weaknesses from the past, I know God will help me use them to move forward in the future. He will help you move forward too.
LET’S DIG DEEPER…
- What does being emotionally healthy mean to you?
- Read Proverbs 14:13. The first step is being real. Are you masking your real emotions (grief, fear, worry)? What can you cultivate instead (peace, truth, community) to pursue emotional health?
- Does the pressure to act, look or be a certain way keep you from being real? Who in your life allows you to be honest about your emotions? If you don’t have this kind of community, know that we at Sandals Church care about you. Learn more about joining a community group or speaking to our Soul Care team.
As you continue your study of Proverbs, consider these other verses on cultivating emotional health. Choose the one that most speaks to you, and be intentional about applying it to your life and allowing it to change who you are.
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23
Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up. Proverbs 12:25
A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones. Proverbs 14:30
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. Proverbs 17:22
Meghan Benson is a Sandals Ministry Partner, serving alongside the women of Cultivate by supporting social media design and outreach. She is married to Nick and they are working together to raise their three kiddos, Natalie (4.5 years), Jameson (4 years), and Hadley (5 months). A mom first, Meghan spends “nap time” creating handmade jewelry and expanding her knowledge on all things tech related. She enjoys white mochas and local coffee shops, but with three little ones at home she is grateful for a re-heated cup of homemade coffee and this irreplaceable time in their lives.