There's this verse that's been on my mind a lot lately. I've been sitting with it, wondering about it, and trying to figure out how it applies to my life right now. Proverbs 4:23:
Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life.
It's the "guard your heart" part that's been weighing on me.
When I first discovered this verse, it was in a book about dating and I was a teenage girl. The book's author interpreted the verse to mean that, in the context of dating, we shouldn't give away our hearts to just any boy- but instead, wait for one who was worthy. In other words, guarding your heart means not getting your hopes up too high about a boy too early- to avoid a broken heart.
And that's the thing I've been wondering about: how do you exactly guard your heart in an adoption journey?
At first I considered that maybe it meant the same thing as it did in the dating world- not getting my hopes up prematurely, being cautious until there was a degree of certainty. And then I wondered what exactly that degree of certainty would be: when the homestudy was done? When we're officially matched? When we take our first trip to Russia? When we take our final trip? When our adoption is finalized in court?
There is definitely a sense in which our excitement will grow as we get closer to bringing our child home. But at the same time, I am excited now. I want to enjoy this "expectant" phase like I would in a pregnancy.
I struggle with giving myself the freedom to get excited and then telling myself things like, "Don't get too ahead of yourself. Don't get your hopes up too high because... what if? What if something goes wrong?.... What if he doesn't come home? Guard your heart."
But then I thought: is this what "guard your heart" really means?
And, you know, I don't think it is.
I think guarding your heart has more to do with ultimates.
Those ultimates? Those are in Christ. And since those are in Christ, they can never be too high. Nor can they ever be broken.
My ultimate excitement comes from being in the center of God's will.
My ultimate expectation is that one day, every tongue will confess him as LORD.
My ultimate hope is in eternity, secured in my Savior.
Guarding my heart means making sure my ultimates are always in the Ultimate One. And when those ultimates are where they should be, I think I can give myself the freedom to be excited, to enjoy this season of expectation, and to get my hopes up.
And if the what ifs happen?
Well, then "the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Phil 4:7).
I'm certain we will experience many ups and downs in this journey. I hope at the end I'll experience a love and a joy like I haven't yet known. Or maybe my heart will break. But that's the risk of living on earth. And even if that happens, I rest in the promise that one day my tears will be wiped away forever. And so will our son's. I pray that my faith in that day is what will guard my heart during this adoption journey. That's my ultimate prayer.