A considerable amount of our lives can be summarized as time spent waiting. Whether it is waiting in line, on the phone, to grow up, to graduate, to find a new job, to move, to get married, or to get pregnant… we are all waiting for “the next big thing.” I am by nature an impatient person. Like most Americans, I crave instant gratification. I will not purchase an item on Amazon unless it has a confirmed two-day shipping. To be honest, I am afraid to ask God to give me patience because, as I have learned, He always gives me opportunities to “practice patience.” I often struggle to find the meaning behind waiting, and in the past, I have viewed it as time wasted. Despite my shortcomings, the Lord has persistently shown me over the years that He has much to teach me in the midst of the wait. Our family’s choice to pursue adoption has given me, yet again, more time to practice and learn from waiting.
I want to begin by sharing about myself and explaining how our family arrived at this point in the international adoption process. My name is Regina Carsner, and I am married to Matt Carsner, the missions pastor at Hope Community Church in Shelby. We have been married for eleven wonderful years. After serving as church planters for three years in India, we both felt the Lord calling us back to settle in our hometown in order to serve and disciple our own community. Matt was given his dream job at Hope, and I was blessed to be able to work as a hospice nurse. I now work as the Director of Admissions and Palliative Care for Hospice Cleveland County. Matt and I have two biological children, MJ (age 9) and Ruby (age 6).
Before marriage, Matt and I dated one another as teenagers, attending youth mission trips and other overseas trips in college together. These trips opened our eyes to many things, including the hopelessness people have without Jesus, extreme poverty, and the lack of proper orphan care that existed around world. We discussed together how seeing these children without families broke our hearts. Our desire to care for orphans also blossomed from our own ultimate adoption into the family of God when we each became followers of Jesus. We knew adoption would be in our future, but for a long time, we had no idea what it would look like. 2019 was the year that God asked us to become serious about seeking out an adoption agency and beginning the process of finding a child to join our family. After our entire family gave God our “yes,” we began a journey that connected us with a handsome, funny, and super sweet seven-year-old boy from Hong Kong! International adoption is a lengthy process, filled with paperwork, assessments, payments, and of course waiting. We first began the process in February 2019, and we were told at the beginning of this year that we could anticipate going to get our son in May 2020. Because of COVID-19, we now have no idea when we will actually be able to travel to get him. The finalization of paperwork has been completed, but travel has been totally restricted for foreigners to enter Hong Kong. It has been a time of uncertainty and confusion for our family. Still, the Lord has been teaching me a lot about the importance of this time. I wanted to share three key truths that I am still learning.
God is in control. Sounds like a simple truth, but in a season of waiting it is a hard fact to remember. Times like these highlight that I am finite, but the Lord is infinite. God tells us in Isaiah 55:9, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” God is able to see the BIG picture. There are some parts in our lives that may never make any sense to us, but these parts are the exact events and times that God has planned. He is never late, and He never slumbers. Job was a man that was afflicted on all accounts. He had reached a point where he did not understand what was happening to him, and he cried out to God. In Job 38, God asks rhetorical questions to Job, reminding him who created and established all things. Not only is He the Creator of all things, but He has a reason for every detail of our lives. Acts 17:26 says, “And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.” Every move and transition in our lives has been ordained by God. So, it’s in the times when I struggle through the wait that I must cling to the promises of Romans 8:28, “That for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” We may not understand, but we can rest knowing that the Creator God has a plan and purpose for our lives, even when we can’t see the next step.
Times of waiting prepares and equips us for what is to come. My past has proven that a long wait can prepare you for a new season of life. When our family first moved back to the US, I experienced what I only saw then as a wasted period of time struggling through anxiety and depression. I wanted so badly for that season of my life to be over. After reaching the other side, I now see that God used that time to mold me into a new person with new skills. I am now able to better relate to others who have experienced anxiety, and I have been given knowledge to help educate and support those who are still in the midst of their struggles. My working through the season of anxiety has made me a better nurse, friend, and family member. Looking back, I experienced God’s presence in a new way during that time; however, it was difficult to see what He was doing while I was still in the middle of it. For our adoption story, a longer season of waiting for our son to come home has given our family time to better prepare our house, hearts, and minds. We have had many great discussions with family, friends, and strangers. The waiting has given time to explain to others the “why” behind the reason we are choosing to undergo a difficult and long process. We have been able to have gospel-centered conversations that we otherwise would not have been given. Also, we have had multiple opportunities to Skype call with our son, which has allowed MJ and Ruby to build more excitement about him coming to join our family. These calls have also allowed all of us to begin the bonding process before we arrive to pick him up. Ultimately, we will be ready in the way that God wants us to be when the time finally arrives for us to travel.
Waiting generates an attitude of gratitude. It sounds crazy to say, but this time of waiting has given me opportunities to trust the Lord and be thankful for His presence like never before. I have always tried hard to figure out the purpose for everything that happens in my life. Ecclesiastes tells us that we can strive our entire lives to examine and discover the mysteries of life, but we will never fully comprehend it (Ecl 3:11). God alone knows what, why, and how He has made things. Ecclesiastes goes on to tell us that while all of life is “vanity” and we will never fully understand the scope of it, we should simply be thankful that we serve a God who is in control and to do the work that He has given us each day with gladness (Ecl 3:12-13; 22). It takes more than trust to come to an attitude of gratitude. True gratitude comes from the combination of trust and joy. Not only are we to trust that God has a purpose, but we are to be joyful while we follow the path that’s laid before us. I love the picture we see in 1 Samuel, where we learn about Hannah struggling to have a child. She poured out her soul to the Lord for a son. She had a time of weeping, anxiety, and even fasting over her sadness. She went to the temple to cry out to God, but she laid down that sorrow and gave it to the Lord. When she left the temple, she “went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad” (1 Sam 1:18). Hannah was joyful before the answer to her prayer came. And our family wants to do the same! We are choosing joy even while we still don’t have the answers.
This time of waiting has allowed me to slow my mind and heart and to turn once again to my Savior. COVID-19 has given the entire world a chance to slow down. I have stopped my hurried life during this time to reflect more on all the small, daily blessings. I can see more clearly that God is at work every day all around me. I am choosing to wait on His perfect plan, knowing that this season is not wasted. What will you do with your waiting?