Recently, I told my life, “go away nagging list of things undone; I am with a baby now.” I’m waiting for an obedient reply. I understand I must do more than just say it, I also have to make choices to close doors, take shorter distances, and learn the word for ‘no’ in every language, and use it on myself. I am learning to simplify, like Paul learned to be content in everything. He learned. He didn’t just know it. Learning requires a humble attitude open to change, and then the practice, and more practice until it flows effortlessly through my limbs. The mind works the body into impossible positions, unreasonable heights using determined balance with interminable repetition. The miracle happens there when the body goes in the way it’s been trained so the feelings in the heart take the music and make a string of unforgettable moments becoming the dance, where movement and music are one.
I am the movement and Kira is the music. She is not convinced we need to make a dance. But we do. We have to learn…practice…make habit…train…transform. Habit overcomes habit. Mother and daughter, it is a dance. It is similar to the way God is in me, and we dance. I will dance with her to show her what it will one day be like to dance with God. That is the point of all these testy, tantrum filled rehearsals we call our days together.
When I smile at Kira it is so much the way God smiles over me. She is learning about me, and I know a few things about her because she is a baby but I’m looking for her secrets. We have a baseline of love, but I am striving for the knowing love, the kind that allows her to trust me explicitly. We practice, and I return after her rejection and I put a smile over my confusion. When I look at her she is asking me to see into her at the place where she thinks and feels without my words. If I can’t dive into her soul through her eyes she won’t have me at all. I know because I am a girl too, and this is the way we are.
Her affections and cuddles are locked away and reserved. For who? Has she not forgotten her first day? Did it teach her to be careful with her heart, and not risk trust? What did she hear the moment she was abandoned and alone? I have not allowed myself to feel her trauma on that day but I need to know it like my own insecurities. My knowing will affect every decision I make for her. It hurts to go that close, I am afraid to know.
When I reach for her she puts out those locked elbows and keeps my kiss at arm’s length, and I believe she has her reason. I want to know what it is so I can unlock that space between us, close it in so she can know for sure being close to me won’t hurt her. What did her soul learn that first day? When she was brought to her Aunties she received their love and care. But she was quiet and she sucked her finger more than they liked. What did that mean? Then I appeared and I took her away from the only people and place she really knew. Did I make the distance between us longer by doing that? Was there another way? We made a clean break and lengthened the distance between us. Sometimes to go forward I must take a mile backwards. As she learned to crawl, together we crawled millimeters forward and we picked up pebbles of trust while living in the house on the hill in Kampala. When music and movement began to meet, we took a ride across the ocean to another new home. The music went silent.
At first it felt like defeat. But I am a fighter. My baby has no option but to somehow learn to let me love her. So we started over taking baby steps. I ask God for one strand of her heart to be given to me each day. She rejects me and I return. We practice. Hot green jealousy serpentines up my spine as I watch her kiss the dog and her dolly, yet she turns her head away from me and spits. She will kiss the baby in the mirror. Does she know yet it is her? If she mirrors the kisses she receives from me will she somehow understand it is the language of showing love and return it to me one day, when she feels safe? Will she receive me with abandon, no reservations without limit or retreat? I hope.
I continue to go back to her after every locked elbow, turn of the head, spitting grimace, arched back, howl and leg kicking tantrum. She will know by my practice of returning to her no matter how hard she fights me that my love is tenacious, true, and sincere.
How do I know how to do this? Why don’t I give up? Because God pursued me first and He has shown me this way to love. He pursued me every time I turned my back on Him and closed my eyes to the truth. He was unrelenting in loving me through my own baby Christian tantrums. So I can be unrelenting in my pursuit for Kira to grasp in her pulse and blood that she is loved with a holy, pure love that is modeled by God himself. I will show her what it looks like so one day she will recognize the source when she sees Him with her own eyes.
Trust is a fragile commodity, a frozen petal easily shattered. It takes time to warm the life blood that must course with trust. I wonder if she learned her first day that trust is scary. She was ripped away from the first person who shared her blood, and then again from the those in her baby home who showed her community love, and now she’s in my arms wondering what to do. How long will it take before she can give me all of herself without fear? She is holding back. She doesn’t have to but she learned a great loneliness that first day. Will every second she cried alone take a month for her to forget the terror of separation? How long did she cry before she gave up? Did she give up? Was it the giving up that hurt her the most? Could her brand new soul feel God’s presence in her lonely place?
I want to know if the birth mother watched her from a distance or did she turn and walk away into a life with relieved empty arms. I want to hate her for the evil that lead her to this choice. Yet, I love her for not ending the pregnancy. Why couldn’t she have taken her to a hospital, or a doorstep, anywhere but the road. When she chose to put her in a dangerous place there was evil in it. That stokes my anger into a raging fire. This is the first time I’ve allowed myself to feel this far into the depths of this truth. It hurts me to go in there. But I must feel the knowledge of her soul. She feels it even though she doesn’t have words for it. I believe knowing leads to understanding and that leads to healing. She can recover completely. She does not have to live her life in the shadow of that first day. God wants her to overcome, become stronger and one day tell of His unrelenting love for her.
My soul is connected to her soul and I will make this long healing dance with her. All the patience, balance, perseverance and strength I need are given to me by God. I will share mine with her until she has her own. I am going to feel this pain she carries and lighten the burden until it is gone. The soul has memory. We are making new memories, so many that she will no longer be able to retrieve the first memory. Will she then be free to love me? I hope.