It is Saturday night.
I am rocking Amelia in the dark, trying to listen to the crickets outside rather than my own sharp and raspy lullaby. Amelia touches my lips and “sings” along, and I can tell that she thinks my off-key song is beautiful. I think she’s beautiful. We trace each other’s faces and fingers as we hum.
My mind wanders back several days, to when I showed Amelia a picture of Mama Sarah. Sarah was Amelia’s favorite caretaker in the orphanage. I cannot overstate how much they loved each other. For weeks after Amelia came home to us, we would get Amelia to smile for photos by yelling “Sarah” in a Ugandan accent.
I always want Amelia to know Sarah’s face, the first face that she knew as love…
And so last week, I showed Amelia a picture of herself with Mama Sarah.
Amelia laughed, grabbing for the laptop and yelling her baby-talk version of “Sarah.” She stared for a long time. Then Amelia turned to me, cried, and slapped me in the face.
My baby slapped me in the face. She hasn’t done that since Africa.
I know, baby. You miss Sarah, and you’re mad that I’m not her.
I think about this as I sing to sleepy Amelia in the dark… about my baby slapping my face, and how she both loves me and resists me… how she has bonded to us more quickly than we ever imagined, and how there is still so much bonding to be done.
Before long, Amelia is deep asleep in my arms, body limp and breath deep. I linger in her room for a long time, relishing this rare moment when I as an adoptive mother am recognized by my baby as her safety; her comfort; her rest. This isn’t the daily norm for Amelia. It is different for her than it was for our biological daughter Caroline. Even at the age of three, Caroline’s instinct is still to yell “mama” when she is hurt or scared. But Amelia is having to learn what comes naturally to other children: She is having to learn what it means to have a mom.
I just want to be a place of rest for Amelia.
The thought hits me like a wave, and I laugh out loud. The word “rest” has been jumping out of Scripture during my quiet times lately. I have stared at the word curiously. I have turned it over and over in my mind, and I have prayed for God to show me what it means to “enter His rest.”
And once again, this tiny brown toddler sleeping in my arms has unknowingly opened my mind to some of the mysteries of God. She has cracked the window of heaven just a bit more for me. I feel the warmth of eternal beams shining around our rocking chair and I know:
REST means knowing who our Father is.
Just as I want Amelia to rest with me as her mother, God wants us to rest with Him as our Father. Rest means trusting that He loves us. Enjoying that He is in control. Ceasing to resist Him.
Rest means learning that His arms are a safe place… And sometimes, as Amelia is teaching me, a place to curl up and sing to Him as He sings over us.