We adopted, again.
Early in October our family grew by two. This time we didn’t need to travel to Ethiopia. Instead, we drove 20 minutes down the road to a local animal shelter.
Soon after the sibling pair of 8-week old kittens set paws in our home we realized we had not adequately prepared ourselves, nor our home, for the onslaught of frenzied play and prolific use of tiny claws. The jumping and climbing and racing about brought us joy, laughter, and a few disciplinary actions. Those moments also served as a reminder of what it’s like to have “children” in the home once again. Before adopting it may have been helpful to reorient ourselves to the demands of pet ownership since it has been almost a dozen years since welcoming our last young pet (we still miss you, Nacho!).
While our acclimation to the kittens has been swift and enjoyable, the same cannot be said about the circumstances of this year. The unexpected and unwelcome have been unsettling and disorienting. My response to the pandemic, the US election, disrupted holiday plans and general upheaval in most things has generated a blend of anxiety, fear, discontent, and at times, anger. I’ve wrestled deep in my soul with the unmooring of predictable things that provide a sense of security. It seems nothing is as it was, and I wonder if it ever will be again.
Several weeks ago, the Spirit led me to meditate on Psalm 146. In the succinct beauty of those ten verses are comfort, encouragement, and perspective. Through those inspired words we’re reminded that God lifts us when we’re discouraged. He takes notice and cares for the needy, forgotten, and marginalized. He is our help and our hope. The psalmist also implores us to orient ourselves not to the people and plans of this world, but to the One who made heaven and earth. Our God, who in this moment–and in every moment during this disorienting year–has remained faithful as He rules and reigns in perfect goodness and love.
As we enter the Advent season, now is a good time for reorientation–not to pet ownership, but to God. Advent offers an opportunity to quiet myself in prayerful, intentional reflection on my past and present situation. As I ponder my anxieties and disappointments of the past several months, I find this perspective from David Benner helpful:
“Jesus is the antidote to fear. His love—not our believing certain things about him or trying to do as he commands—is what holds the promise of releasing us from the bondage of our inner conflicts, guilt and terror. Jesus comes to show us what God is like. Knowing how we would react to a god who suddenly turned up on the human scene, God becomes human, to meet us where we are and minimize our fears. The incarnation is God reaching out across the chasm caused by our sin and starting the relationship all over again. The incarnation reveals true Love reaching out to dispel fear.”David Benner, Surrender to Love, p.50.
During this first week of Advent, join me in reorienting to Love. Let’s acknowledge what’s real and true through honest moments of personal examination, confession, repentance, and forgiveness. Together let’s proclaim, “I will sing praise to my God as long as I live” (Psalm 146:2) as we align ourselves to the King who reigns yesterday, and this day, and forever. He is our only hope, and He is worthy of our praise.
A Prayer for Reorientation
Father in Heaven, my welcoming King,
I’ve wanted and wandered, longing for more;
Attune my affections to You alone,
and help me surrender to Love.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”
(1 John 4:18a ESV)