Monday, February 19, 2007

Thinking of Joseph Tonight

Today is our wedding anniversary, and for the first time since we married, we spent it apart. Not just mildly apart, either, but half a world apart, as my darling husband is on the other side of the globe completing the adoption process to bring our first son home. I can't think of any better reason to miss our anniversary.

Still, when we received our travel dates, it was a bittersweet realization to know that at long-last we could bring our son home, but it would mean being apart not only for two weeks--longer than we've ever been apart before--and also at a time of year that we normally celebrate our togetherness.

Before marrying I was quite the independent single woman. I couldn't believe how quickly I became addicted to having my husband nearby. Suddenly things that seemed like no big deal before marriage were now a huge trial. I volunteered to spend a week at camp with our church youth group one year. I made it through one night, packed up my sleeping bag at 6:00am and headed home. When I was looking at graduate programs the primary consideration was how much time I'd need to spend away from Jim. We've considered moving several times in our married life, but one of the best things about our home is that it's five minutes from work to home for Jim, and we can have lunch together every day.

I am blessed to have a husband who likes to come home, who likes to be with his family. I recognize that our relationship, our marriage and our family life are wonderful blessings, and I am deeply grateful.

Given the unique circumstances in which we're celebrating our anniversary this year, I've found myself thinking frequently of Joseph, husband to Mary, and earthly father to Jesus Christ. I suspect that many adoptive dads can relate to his situation. He didn't exactly seek out the honor and burden of parenting a young Savior of the world, and accepting the responsibility meant no small amount of sacrifice, inconvenience and hardship.

But he did it. He packed everything up on the donkey and he went where he had to go. He did the best job he could with a stable and a manger, and he was there for Mary and the baby when they needed him. When the Lord twice called him in a dream he woke up and did what the Lord asked. He left his livelihood and his community and lived a nomadic life in Egypt for a few years in order to protect his young family. Quite possibly he endured raised eyebrows and snide whispers from gossipy people who counted months on their fingers and wondered at a more rushed wedding when Mary found herself unexpectedly expecting. Along Mary's side, he searched for the young Jesus when he stayed to talk with the elders in the temple, and while the scriptures reference Mary's maternal remonstration, we only know from her that Joseph likewise "sought [him] sorrowing." The frantic worry underlying her words, and her reference to Joseph as Jesus' father, suggest that while Jesus undoubtedly knew of His divine lineage, within the confines of His family He knew Joseph as His father, and the relationship was one of love.

During our engagement I told Jim that while I didn't know why, I did know that I was going to adopt at least some of my children. I'm not sure what I would have done if he'd said no! Thankfully he just nodded his head and said that it sounded like a good idea.

Over $80,000 and lots of heartbreak later I'm not sure if he still thinks it was a good idea. Then again, he's an awful lot like Joseph. Sacrifice, worry, inconvenience, and hardship kind of pale in comparison to the light shining in a little boy's eyes when he looks at his dad.

Jim calls almost every night from his hotel in China. He has to wait until Eric is sleeping, and he talks quietly so he won't wake our tired, disoriented new son. He says Eric wakes up throughout the night, checking to see if Jim is still there. When he sees that he is, Eric lays back down and goes back to sleep.

That's what the Josephs of the world do. Those good daddies, and faithful husbands are just quite simply, quite magnificently, THERE. A hotel room in China, an emergency room in Utah, a pink bedroom full of scary monsters, or wherever else love and duty call them--they are there.

And so in spite of missing him terribly, and hoping for his safe return immediately, I'm so very glad to be married to a man who is where he needs to be--and right now, it's over there.

1 comment:

Mary Kate said...

what a wonderful tribute to a wonderful Daddy!