As I rummaged through the dresser one-handed, I quickly realized that all the 24 month clothing I had prepared for Mark’s arrival were simply not going to work. Nothing inside that dresser was going to fit on his tiny body.
That’s when I recalled that the shirt I had just peeled off him in the bathroom. It was the same shirt I had sent down for him several years ago. It was size 6 months. Having been told over and over again that he was growing well and getting quite large, I had already given away the bulk of the smaller clothing I had. Fortunately, though, I had kept just one tiny outfit on the off-chance that it would be needed. Recalling this, I opened the bottom drawer, grabbed it and headed downstairs.
“What can I do to help?” Jason said rushing over, clearly wanting to help alleviate the load I was currently bearing, both emotionally and physically.
“Could you spread out that towel on the counter and go grab Nate’s soap? I forgot it while I was upstairs,” I said, trying to at the same time to surmise how in the world I was going to approach this new situation with a child I didn’t know.
“What you be doing, Momma?” Nate inquired running up to see what his new brother and I were up to. “Mark be okay? Where be his clothes?”
“Oh, Mark’s just dirty from all that time on the airplanes,” I explained. “It’s time to get him clean.”
Eager to get this whole bathing business over with, I once again attempted to set Mark down. Like a fearful, wounded animal, he began letting out a meager cry while reaching out for me.
“Mark, Mommy’s got to wash you. I’ll be as quick as I can,” I said as reassuringly as I could. This was uncomfortable for me. But it was clearly terrifying for him.
It wasn’t long before Jason returned with a plethora of bath products in hand.
“I didn’t know what you wanted, so I brought it all,” he said a bit breathless.
“Thanks,” I said as I unpacked his arms. “You and Nate might want to go upstairs. He’s probably going to cry…”
“Just holler if you need anything,” Jason said, eager to escape the inevitable soundtrack that was to follow.
I was right. The next fifteen minutes were filled with screams. Despite my best efforts to coo and calm him, Mark wailed as if I were pulling out his fingernails. I imagine that emotionally that’s probably exactly what it felt like. A complete stranger had just stripped him naked and was scrubbing him clean. Sure, he was finally and forever home. Granted, Jason and I would do all we could to take the very best care of him. But Mark didn’t know that. At the time, being cleaned and cared for was an uncomfortable and scary process. It meant Mark had to be vulnerable.
And sometimes the same is true for us, too.
We have to allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to drag it all out into the light of day, so that God can transform and make us new. We have to trust that God has our very best interests at heart, even when in the moment it may not entirely—or even remotely—feel good. We have to accept that sometimes the cleaning process isn’t comfortable one, but certainly no less important.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28 (ESV)