Some times you don't make it to church on Sunday. Some times grief sneaks up on your child and comes seeping down her face. Some times you put everyone else in the car and you sit that little girl down and you talk to her about the hard things. You hold her face and you look in her eyes and you tell her how sorry you are that she has to do such hard things. You tell her how valued and worthy she is. You talk about the grief and her biological momma and your chest will ache from the pain she carries. Your tears fall with hers and your shirt will cling to your shoulder where her tears and snot have settled. You talk to her about the good and you carefully and honestly discuss the not so good and you paint a picture of a life before you, a life she no longer remembers. You show her the picture, the one of her first mom and her beautiful smile. You point out the similarities and the ends of her sweet mouth turn up at the sight and the blank look in her eyes of not recognizing her mom's face catches in your throat in a mass of the things missed. And you don't even try to wipe the tears anymore. Hers or yours. You just simply say, when things get hard, I will never leave you. When you are sad, I will be here with you in it and we will talk it through. While you miss and love your first momma, it doesn't push your forever momma away. There is enough room here for that love and longing. It's okay here. I am so sorry you are hurting. You tell her it is completely understandable and normal that she feels like this and that there are other sons and daughters all over the world feeling just like she does right now. You tell her she is not alone. You tell here that sometimes it makes you angry and that's okay if she ever feels that too. You tell her about Jesus and His love for her. You tell her He was adopted. You tell her your love for her is unconditional. You tell her that love often looks like service and sacrifice. You sit her on the couch and you grab her little feet and you wash them and you put lotion on them and you paint those little toes and you have church right there while you do it. Church right there with the little brown feet and the snot and the tears.
You serve her with the best of you. You sing praise songs and the tears slow and she will look at you with that sweet look that shows you just how important you are to her. And your heart...your heart can barely take it. This sweet girl struggling to share her grief with you and not hurt your feelings at the same time. This sweet girl in this sacred time trying to balance all of that. You hug her with a fierceness that says we are in this together. You show her your love for her in the simple task of painting her toes. You feel God's presence there...in this space...in your family room surrounded by a dozen little bottles of bright spring nail polish and tear stained faces because church is wherever we bring it.