The gift of a knock-down, drag-out fight with God

I’m gonna take you back to my state of mind back in May, just before we heard of our Ugandan court date and imminent travel to get Josie. At the time this happened, I knew that if we didn’t hear of a court date in the next week or so, we would be waiting until fall. It was now or wait 5 more months.

I was desperate. Broken. Angry. I was deep in the pit of my trust issues with God, scared out of my mind that because I wanted this so much, He wouldn’t give it to me. And then I finally arrived at my breaking point.


There was this situation that I wanted to control. This particular one has to do with adoption, but I’m an equal-opportunity controller, really. I do this in all arenas of my life. Adoption just has a special way of turning me inside out.

That could be a spiritual development advertisement of sorts: “Think you have your control issues all sorted out? Try adoption!” (maniacal laughter)


It was just after I got unwelcome news about our second adoption — information that just confirmed that this one was beyond my reach.

It was my move. Would I acknowledge my disappointment and then let go, trust, surrender? Or, would I tighten my grip, consider the craziest alternatives and use all my spare energy to try influencing that which I have no influence over?

If you don’t know the answer, you don’t know me very well.

I’m so grateful that God does, because he could probably see what was about to happen.


I could see it, too. I’ve lived through this pattern so many times I know the beginning, middle and end. But so far, there is no skipping around. Although I can see it all, I still have to walk through it.

First, I death-grip and crank on a steering wheel that’s not even attached to the vehicle I’m in. This is irrational, and so are my thoughts about how to control the uncontrollable: If I can just use all my mental energy to will reality into existence, it should happen. If I don’t acknowledge that what’s happening will happen, I can somehow prevent it.

These are the mornings I wake up with a jaw-ache because I’ve been clenching my teeth so hard all night.

The mid-point comes when I simply notice how frantic I feel. How out of control, how desperate. How I’m taking deep breaths every 10 minutes because my heart is racing, chasing after the un-gettable.

From here, I can see the end: The acceptance, the surrender. I remember how good it feels to get there. But I’m not ready to go there yet. I still want what I want and I’m not letting it go.

Let go, let go, let go, the Counselor whispers to me.

No, I say. I can’t. I dig in my heels.



And then sometimes it comes down to this: A solo drive, 90 minutes to myself, and I immediately switch off the radio because my head and heart are loud enough, and I have some words to share with God.

I lay into Him.

Not in surrender, not in exhaustion. It’s adrenaline. I come out swinging.

Why do I have to do this? I demand. Why ask me to do this if I’m so terrible at it? What’s the point? And another thing…

For a long time, he just sits there, absorbing the blows. He knew all these questions were inside. When I take a breath in between questions, I feel his compassion — and maybe even his pleasure? — that I was finally coming out with it. That I was saying it all out loud. Loudly. Finally.


When I started wearying from the crying and the questions, He caught me. He held me. And then, He started telling me stories. He asked me to remember. He called to mind where I’ve been and where He’s brought me. And He did it so lovingly and it knocked the fight right out of me.

When I finally asked Why do I have to carry this burden?  He whispered it then.

Because, my sweet girl, you asked me for it.

He brings a long-forgotten song to my memory, and along with it the feeling, the desperate promise I’d made. How I had sung, with tears streaming down my face, before we even started down this road:

Heal my heart and make me clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like you have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks yours
Everything I am for Your kingdom’s cause

As I walk from earth into eternity

And that’s when I finally surrender. When I see that he’s carried me and will carry me.

The promises come flooding into my mind then.

I will give you the strength you need.
I will carry you.
I won’t leave you alone in this.
I love you and I love Josie and no matter what happens, that won’t change.

He stayed with me while I took the same worn road I take every time — all the way to the end of myself. And there, He showers grace, mercy, rest, compassion, love, love, love.

And I can finally rest.

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3 comments on “The gift of a knock-down, drag-out fight with God

  1. Jules says:

    Yes. Always, yes. My heart aches with yours, my breath catches with yours, because of the real and raw writing you share with us. Thank you.

  2. Christin says:

    I can’t even begin to tell you how much this is me. Oh my goodness — the wait — the uncertainties — and I couldn’t relate more to this, “If I can just use all my mental energy to will reality into existence, it should happen. If I don’t acknowledge that what’s happening will happen, I can somehow prevent it.”

    I’ve written a couple of posts on the pain of waiting:

    Even today we still have no answer and God holds me with reminders of His promises and how much He has already brought us through in this process. It has been almost a year since we received our referral.

  3. Christin says:

    I just have to come back and tell you the song God reminds me that I sang. It’s by Kathleen Carnali:
    “Jesus, rain on my parade,
    strip me down again
    so I’m desperate for you.
    Jesus, whatever it takes
    bring to my end,
    so I’m desperate for you. Amen”

    It’s called “Dangerous Prayer”. Hmm mmm