I have been in this position before… it is not altogether new and uncharted territory for me. Being entrusted with a child for an unknown (but always sure to seem “too short”) amount of time, asked to love them with all I have (by the Lover Himself), filled with unequivocal joy during the loving, but then left with a deep, open wound (on top of other wounds that are still healing) when the subject of the loving is no longer present in my day-to-day. The loving never stops; the ability to love in flesh, unhindered, is just removed in some way and man, does it sting. To this day, they are still "orphans" as defined by the world. They still lack a mother.
When the wounds are still fresh, I promise to never walk this road again. I will give my heart to no other transient visitors, only those who are sure to linger long enough to make the loving “worth it.” Carol. Pinky. Mercy. Obama. David. Abigail. I said “yes, God” to doing life forever with each and every one of them. Lots of times my “yes’s” were delayed or spoken through quivering lips, but they were all spoken aloud by His grace.
Sometimes I think that’s all He wants (our yes’s) and maybe that’s love, but when I’m hurting, it feels like a trick. Trick us into saying yes to hard things and then You’re not even going to follow through? My finite mind looks for someone to blame and He is the only one in the picture who is big enough to carry it. I feel like the joke is on me sometimes. The Deceiver loves when I give these thoughts the time of day—He loves for me to doubt that God is working for my good--to think He is working for everybody else’s, at the expense of my own.
Sometimes I feel like that. Could I simply be a sacrifice for someone else’s good? At first I’m indignant, but gradually that idea starts to sound good to my “leave it all on the field” personality. I can get on board with that. Let me die and let others live, somehow. But oh geez, that is not Jesus… He wants (and works hard for) MY good as much as He wants (and works hard for) the orphan’s good. And it’s all grace.
This time is different from all in the past because this time I know what I am getting into. I know (and pray, in a weird conflict-of-interests kind of way) that Caleb and all the other babies who come through these doors, lay in my bed, and poop on my hands, will be removed from my life after a year or two—they will be entrusted to a new family who signs up to love them forever. Forever, forever. The thing is, I will do it. Happily! I want to do it. If Jesus said I could keep Caleb forever, I would without a doubt. What an honor. But He hasn’t said that yet, so I am asked to keep on loving and trusting He knows what He is doing here.
I’m sure I’ve posted it before because it is probably the most solid, necessary-for-life wisdom I cling to, outside of straight Scripture. I need to read it almost every day to be reminded that I want this.
“There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even an animal…We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armour. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as a way in which they should break, so be it.”~CS Lewis in the Four Loves
I feel myself already, 10 short days in to loving Caleb, wanting to pull away to lessen the pain of giving him up someday. Loving him for 1-2 years and then passing him off to someone else, when I gladly say “yes” to forever, is sure to be painful. I could wrap my heart in a casket by remaining at arms-length with Caleb and all of the other babies who enter Neema House. That is exactly what I’d prescribe for myself if this was about me and what I'd consider my "best interest". I can even twist it in my mind and believe that the babies will attach better to their future mom or dad if we don’t let them attach to any of us—if we simply care for their physical needs and pass them around incessantly, letting them wait longer to find someone who has time to let them sleep on their chest or look into their eyes for more than a passing glance or learn the ridges in their hand. That would be easier.
But Jesus is and always will be so faithful it hurts. I tell Him why I want to give away less than all and He draws me in closer. He sweetly promises He will never run out, so I don’t need to be storing any away in case His well of goodness runs dry. He gives the love that is poured out and He reminds in the sweetest of ways to not let pebbles of self-defense block the raging-river flow of Love that He refills for this very purpose. He is the very SOURCE of the river and when we build up dams in our own strength, they are destroying us as much as they are starving the dry riverbed that is thirsting for nourishment.
I don’t like talking about myself so much, especially the ugly stuff, but I just want to encourage and proclaim that God gives what we need. If you don’t believe that, try Him. People who aren’t doing it say that foster care is too hard. It would be hard on the family and hard on the child and hard hard hard. I would never ever try to convince someone it’s not, even in my small and different experience with it in Kenya. But what is so wrong with hard? Hard is close to the heart of Jesus. Hard is out of your own power and strength, completely empty save that of whatever Jesus gives. Hard is constant contact with your Savior because if He doesn’t come through, you’re literally done for.
My point is it’s more than okay to get on board with trembling knees. Do we really trust Him? Not to carry us through once we’re in the muck, but to say “yes” to jumping in, whether the water is murky or not. I just pray for all of us that we fear being disobedient to His commands more than we fear affording a college education (what I hear so often in regards to not adopting), or future tears cried into a pillow (I'd love to skip that step by detaching myself from kids who will not be mine forever), or giving our hearts to people who can’t give their heart back to us (hmm, reminds me of Jesus a bit :)) or having absolutely no idea what we’re doing 23.9 hours of the day (welcome to my life).
Lately I have been super encouraged by a family who is doing just that… They sign up for the “hard”, even as their wounds of past hards are still healing. They do it for Jesus and they believe He is enough—I know that because they’d be straight up drowning if they didn’t. I appreciate that they sought out the difficult in their own city and then went there… not on a bus once a month, they moved in and made it their home. I can’t speak for them, but I doubt they would tell anyone what they do is easy or painless.
I cannot say the same for myself either, but I know that sharing in Christ’s sufferings will forever be the greatest joy. So, we love on. We give it all and trust He will follow through. We let Him carry us through the inevitable joys right up into the point where it does hurt bad, and it’s there that we let Him hold us tighter than ever.