Our job is full of burdens. There is always a tragic story, a rough life, a hard reality to accept in the midst of our home. The reason we have to take a child in is because they aren’t cared for properly. The lives of our children are rooted in trauma. It rarely looks hopeful. There’s not a way to escape it. This is the life our kids are dealt. Some days it feels like a mountain that’s impossible to climb, yet other days kids’ pasts seem to be forgotten. As one who is empathetic to my core, it is a constant thought. I am continuously thinking about how the operation of our cottage and the way we interact with children may bring up memories from their home. Putting myself in their shoes can be difficult to handle. I know it’s not for everyone. I would never wish for anyone to be treated the way our kids have been treated.
It is a humbling experience to be entrusted with the memories and offenses our children have endured. It makes each child seem so fragile. It makes me want to keep them inside all day in order to monitor all that they’ll witness. It changes the way I see childhood experiences. I am helpless to what they’ve already lived through. I cannot change one thing about their horrific pasts. For moments or hours or sometimes days, I slip into a deep sadness for their lives. Most of them don’t even know how the course of their lives has been drastically altered because of the home they’ve come from.
Now, I’m a practical person. Give me a list, or I could make one for you. Tell me what needs to be accomplished and when it should be done. I have a ‘Let’s change the situation with hard work and creative ideas’ kind of attitude. You can ask my husband, but I do not handle disappointment well. Being disappointed comes when I have to give up. I have to concede that something can’t be changed, the time is up, there’s nothing to be done. In order to simply love our kids, I have to give up the idea that their pasts can be changed. Between my empathy and practicality, this job is stressful! This is where God steps in.
I recently had a cousin pass away suddenly, tragically. There is nothing but sadness in my heart when I think about his family, the loss. It’s not fair. It’s heartbreaking. There’s nothing I can do to help the huge hole in our family. At his funeral, we sang the song “Make a Way” by Desperation Band. God placed that song there. I couldn’t actually sing one word of the song because of the deep grief all around me. But there is no doubt in my mind that God picked that song for us to cry through together. The chorus goes like this:
Where there is no way You make a way
Where no one else can reach us
You find us
Jesus, it’s always been You
Jesus, it always is You
Jesus, it always will be You
I can get a lot done. I can do every practical thing imaginable. But this job, this family, these burdens. I can’t even touch them. I don’t have one word. Looking at the insurmountable odds stacked against our kids, I’m done. Defeat. Watching my family grieve so deeply for Jordan, there’s nothing to do.
(don’t insert Jesus cliches here)
I know that this all sounds dark and defeated. I have rewritten this post many times already. I know that as a Christian I have hope because of Jesus. I’m aware. But don’t get out ‘Jesus’ answers. Life is hard. Loss is awful. And I don’t know how God will redeem these things. I don’t see how I can even step forward in praising His goodness or waiting to see how He changes a bad thing into good. Because I don’t see how life could get any worse than these situations around me. I look at these things and say ‘There’s no way out’. These practical hands and feet of Jesus are useless. My human nature has taken over.
And then God whispers, in the midst of weeping: “Where there is no way I will make a way. Where no one else can reach you, I will find you.”
So guess what my job is? To tell them that. To say with my actions “where there is no way, HE will make a way. And I don’t know how. But He will. He has to. He loves you. He loves you. He loves you.” Because, if I say that with only my words, I have failed to be Jesus. So, I fly out to be with my family. I cry with a child who misses his mommy. I make an unhealthy meal because it brings back only good memories of home. I stay an extra 10 minutes with a kid at bedtime to hear his thoughts. I spend a few extra dollars to buy the name brand shoes that a boy has never had before. I write a blog with their stories to honor their struggle. Most days I hesitate to tell them that “God will make a way” because no one even knows what that means in the middle of grief and trauma.
I’m learning that God’s love can heal more than I thought it could – the sadness, the despair, the trauma, the grief. I’m learning that my finite mind and empathy can’t always see beyond it all. I just need to do what I know God wants me to – love consistently, share in people’s pain, and let Him do the rest. He is good.