Our town has a beautiful courthouse. Gorgeous. It is placed right in the middle of downtown and it’s spire stretches above the other buildings. It can be seen from almost every vantage point. The grounds surrounding it are meticulously kept. The white walls gleam in the sunshine.
I love that courthouse. My first memory of it was walking around it with a few friends when I first moved to town. I didn’t know it then, but one of those friends would become my husband. The next time I was in it was nearly two years later – when my fiancé and I applied for our marriage license. Fast-forward another year and the courthouse began to be a regular part of my life. I had scheduled appointments there every couple months or so. And, as the days went by, these appointments began to grow in number as well as emotional value. They grew until, on August 5, 2014, I walked into the courthouse with my husband and three little girls and I walked out with my husband and three daughters. Our daughters. With our last name. Forever.
I cried nearly that entire day with the overwhelming joy that comes with such a life-changing event.
I still visit the courthouse often. It’s still a part of my routine in a very big way as our family continues to provide a home for children in foster care. I still smile when I park nearby or when I start to walk up the steps. I always glance to my right when I enter to catch a glimpse of the door. The door to the room where my daughters became mine. I love it. It will always be so very precious to me.
Another thing that I love about the courthouse is the absolute joy the sight of it elicits in my daughters! Each time we drive past, they scream and shout, “That is where we were ‘dopted!!!”
Earlier this year we added another kiddo to our family. And, as our schedule has bent and shifted, I have added the drive to school each morning and afternoon for this precious one. As it happens, the drive to his school takes us right by the courthouse every day. Twice each day. And every day, twice a day, my daughters scream and exclaim as we pass by. It never grows old. They never stop loving it.
The words they use to describe the courthouse are “beautiful,” “gorgeous,” “wonderful,” and “love.” My oldest daughter even commented aloud to me during her spring break that she hopes we can drive by every day – even in the summer. She said, “I love being adopted.”
This past week as we were driving by, it suddenly struck me that my daughters do not ever grow tired of this sight. We have never passed by without exclamations of delight, and, the few times that I’ve taken a different route to school, they have noticed and voiced their disappointment.
The courthouse represents something so pivotal in their little lives. It represents the day that their future was secured. The day their place in our family was permanently settled. The day the painful ties to their past were severed completely. The day our love for them was written and proclaimed in ink forever. They were issued new birth certificates that day. Birth certificates that list my husband and I as their parents. They were re-born. Into our family.
As I reflected on and rejoiced in their joy, I was struck by a thought. I have a “courthouse.” A place where my future was secured. My place in a family was permanently settled. Where I was set free from my painful past. Where love for me was proclaimed forever – in blood. Where I was re-born. It’s not a physical courthouse, though. It’s a cross.
And as I reflected on what a perfect earthly picture the adoption of my daughters was to proclaim the beautiful adoption of believers to their God, I began to think of how that should change my life. How it should shape my daily routine. How it should influence the parenting of these precious children. How central it must be in my life.
You see, I should never grow tired of seeing the cross. It should never become common place or hardly noticed. The day I knelt at the cross the first time was a pivotal day. Just like that day in the courthouse for my daughters. And I should never, ever cease to praise my God for what He did for me that day.
I should also long to re-arrange my daily routine so that I can see the cross. Each and every day. Just like my daughter who wants a reason to drive by the courthouse even in the summertime. When I asked her why she said, “I love being adopted.” So, why should I visit the cross? Because I LOVE being adopted. I LOVE being redeemed. I LOVE remembering what God through Christ did for me on that tree. I LOVE knowing that my position in His family is permanently secured.
I also reflected on the fact that, as my children grow older, the courthouse could symbolize pain for them as well as joy. Oh, the chaotic confusion of a painful past clashing against the secure present. Their worlds will be turned upside-down and inside-out so many times as they grow up. So many questions. So many hurts. So many memories. And yet, the cross perfectly satisfies all questions. All chaos. All confusion. All the hurt. Because the greatest hurts, the biggest questions, the most confusing chaos, and the greatest joys all meet together at the foot of the cross. And as my children grow, I will need to continue clinging desperately to that cross. Daily. Hourly. Minute-by-minute. So that I can teach them. Help them. Run with them to the cross. Because there is no earthly story or situation that is not made clearer when placed in the light at the foot of that cross.
Tears filled my eyes as I continued driving. Listening to the prattle of voices in the van behind me. What a precious gift God has given to our family in the form of children. And what a precious symbol, what a testament to our bond and love, is that beautiful courthouse. And yet, it’s glorious white walls and beautiful architecture are just a shadow. A shadow of the truest symbol for life and love. The truest bond that ties us together as a family and gives us hope and help for the future. It’s not a courthouse. It’s a cross.
The cross. May we run to it daily. May we rejoice in the light and hope found there. And may we find the healing we need as we rest beneath it’s glorious shadow.