These days I’m learning to face things that I normally shy away from: tragedy, fear, loving in the face of risk. These are the things I’m choosing, I’m counting the cost and investing myself anyway. It’s not my natural bent to dive into emotions, it’s a process.
I’m finding that without knowing sorrow, joy doesn’t ring as true. Without feeling fear, comfort and calm aren’t as profound. If we don’t allow ourselves to be shaped by a range of emotions, sadness too, our lives might be neat and tidy, but our hearts will be dull.
On Friday, I found I wanted to turn away. I caught whiff of a terrible tragedy and I tried to cover my eyes and ears. I told myself, “you don’t need this now”. But that’s not a way to live. Sometimes we have to choose to go in on sorrow. We have to really feel things to pray and truly trust. We have to let sorrow wash over us at times, trusting Him to pull back it’s tide and then sustain us. Feeling things transforms us. We learn to see things clearly, to embrace what we’re given. Numbness is transformed into bold courage.
Our biggest fear with foster parenting was attachment and loss. As we’ve shared our story, I’ve been amazed how many families we’ve spoken to that have considered foster care, but been held back by that same fear. It’s not easy to open your hands to what promises to be messy at times.
That fear has followed me like a shadow as we’ve adjusted to life with our first placement. When you hold a baby in the middle of the night, watched them fall asleep in your arms, you can’t help but be “in”. You can’t help but attach and give yourself to them. And I’m happy I have. My job is to love him well. To rush into the face of unknown, to invest and give. To pray for him like I’m the only one. (I know thankfully I’m not).
There have been moments where I’ve truly been afraid. What if this hurts too much? What if the courts don’t decide how I would if I were in charge? I’ve whispered in the quiet of night, “Lord. I think we’re in too deep. It’s too late, I want to run. I don’t believe any more that you called us to this. I’m terrified.” Fear has coursed through me and robbed me of joy. I’ve let myself believe, once again, that I’m in charge and have to figure it all out.
I’ve watched my kids love fiercely. They state their love boldly to a child that’s not for keeps. I keep delicately reminding them of that, trying to put a fence around their hearts. Then I remember. He sees them too. He’s guiding their hearts as well through this. He has a plan for them too, He’s a God that doesn’t waste pain.
I’m learning though all of this. Of the many lessons in foster care, I know that one of them for me is to choose to use my heart, it’s meant to be poured out, not tucked away. When you choose to feel, you choose to trust. We are choosing to trust Him to guide us through the happy, blessed parts and the uncharted waters of sadness. We choose to love well and to be courageous.
It’s a bold, hard thing. But it’s proving to be a blessed thing.