It happened again this morning. I walked into our bathroom, and the smell was overwhelming. Not overwhelming in the sense of not being able to escape the scent. Overwhelming more in the sense that somewhere tucked away in our tiny bathroom was the smell that tugged on my heart strings more than anything Bath & BodyWorks has done before. So why would “Butterfly Flower” cause me to pause in such a way?
It was a soap I’d given to my wife as a gift, the week before our trip to the DRC. We used it every day while in Kinshasa, and it was the soap we used when giving our daughter her baths that week. To read more on why smell is such a powerful connection to our brains and memory, check this out.
Most of us have heard that the brains of men are much better-suited for compartmentalization. Meaning, we can set aside emotions and thoughts about something in order to focus primarily on the task at hand. For most of our adoption journey, this has been true. While my wife has been carrying the burdens and emotions of a 3+ year adoption journey through every mountain and valley we’ve naturally traveled through, I’ve been able to choose when and where I wanted to access the emotional part of it all. Which is to say, not often. In fact, it usually only happened when her burden of carrying the adoption on top of a particularly stressful week became too much – that she reminded me of our struggle. Which is not to say I’d forgotten we were adopting. Simply that, with my incredibly talented masculine neurological skills, I’d compartmentalized.
My brain knew there was no benefit to keeping that emotional door open until it was necessary, and so it was often kept closed. Loving my wife came in the form of learning how and when to open that door to share the burden with her for a bit. I’m thankful for her grace, and loving patience for when I had a hard time keeping that door open.
For better or for worse (I’d say better in most moments, even the hard ones.), I’ve lost some of my ability to close that door. Especially when assaulted by the scents of our time together in Africa. I miss her smile, and her laugh. I miss holding her while she slept. I miss her skinny little finger trying to tickle me deep inside my ear canal. I miss my daughter.
And there it is.
Throughout difficult times, I’m confident in God’s ability to bring a redemptive aspect even in pain. I do not believe He caused the brokenness involved in our adoption journey, but I know He can transform it as we offer it to Him.
In the past couple weeks I’ve gained a new appreciation for a sliver of God’s Love for us. Jesus was called “Immanuel” which means “God with us”. It was God’s first time being physically embodied and present as never before. Humanity had changed a lot, since the days in the garden. We were broken. We were weak. We were fragile and hungry. He held us. He fed us. He smelled us. He planted seeds of what was to be someday. Then His embodied form went to be with the Father – away from us once again.
I don’t understand God’s heart and how it breaks, by any means. But I do understand just a little more these days, how desperate He must be to bring us all that we need. To rescue us from what sin is doing. To pour out His presence fully, making all things new. To be with us, physically, forever.
Every laugh He hears. Every smell of broken bread that comes His way. His heart is breaking to be near to us…
Thankful for light in the darkness. Praying we can draw her near soon. Praying He draws us near even now.
I’m not sure this door can ever close again…and it may wreck me, but I’m okay with that.