At the time, I didn't comprehend the depth of that statement. Not until God uprooted my life and transplanted me here in Uganda. Now when I read that quote, I realize that I couldn't agree more! Loving people with a Christ-like love is tough; and it's messy, and painful, and scary, and...*sigh*...
1. Children, whether biological or not, are not ours; they belong to God.
2. Returning a child to their home may be a loss to us, but it is not a loss to God. He remains sovereign regardless of the circumstances.
3. Despite the child's location, God is big enough and He can care for that child with or without us.
As I continued to read the article, the truths in each line clenched my heart. No, I am not a foster mother nor was I ever raised by the foster care system. But this woman's words resonated with me.
I knew this woman...
I was this woman...
The ministry where I serve is a host to many painful stories. Children are carrying years of pain, neglect, and rejection. Just yesterday, I stood quietly and watched 'my' kids as they sat in class and prepared for their midterm exams. Some of their stories stirred in my mind: A young boy, about eight years old, infected with HIV and suffering from inadequate nutrition at home. A sweet adolescent girl, unwelcome in her family's home, struggling for a place to call 'home.' A young girl, about 10 years old, unaware of what real love is, seeking acceptance from whomever will show her the slightest bit of attention. A teenage boy, abandoned by his mother and rejected by his father, desiring that someone--anyone--show him the path to real life. A shy girl suffering from experiences of inappropriate touch, afraid to let anyone close to her.
I look at these precious babies and naturally think, "Of course they would be better off with me." "I can be a better mother and role model for them." "I can do a better job of meeting their physical and emotional needs." "I can do a better job of loving them!!"
Then, somewhere in the midst of my internal temper tantrum, God gently said to me, "Perhaps so, but don't forget about me. I am all they need. I am their Father and you can trust me with their hearts. Trust me to love and care for them when you and the world come up short. I promise you, I have good plans for each of them."
It was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment. A soft reminder that no matter how much I love these kids, there will always be Someone who loves them a million times more.
Even so, it isn't easy. God has called me to love these children as my own and to show them a love that they have never known before. I have no doubt that once they experience His unconditional love, their lives will inevitably be changed for eternity! :) I am doing my best to be obedient to that call, but there is still this fleshy, human part of me that wants to shout, "God! This isn't fair!"
It's not that I don't want to love these kids, loving them is the easy part. Nearly everything about them is lovable. The hard part is the emotional toll it takes on my own heart. Acquiring just a glimpse of the injustice that these kids are forced to face each and every day. Witnessing the effects that this broken and busted world has had on these young lives. Seeing the tears in my children's eyes.
Every ounce of me wants to be the superhero mom that rescues them from their hurt and pain; to jump in and wipe away all of their tears. I want to hold them close and reassure them that everything will me okay.
But I can't.
Admitting that is like thrusting a dagger through my heart. It is a battle that I face every day. An emotional tug-of-war. On one side, my head is telling me to just trust God (and that seems like the right thing to do...), but I can't ignore my flesh on the other side screaming, "Do something!!!" My emotions are constantly being violently jerked in different directions.
Fortunately, God has given me this scripture to cling to:
"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." Romans 8:28
God has not called me to save these children--that is His job. They belong to Him anyway. Truly, He can use me as a vessel to share His love for them, but even in my absence, His love will prevail. And even in the pain, He remains to be God.
So, I am learning to trust Him on another level these days, And I am thankful that He is being patient with me because as Mr. Keller said, Love IS inconvenient. But while it may be inconvenient for me, it is no excuse to jump ship and give up. I must continue the race that God has put before me. Loving my babies through their pain is hard. Seeing their tears is agonizing. Knowing their stories is heartbreaking...and I am sure that if it breaks my heart, it is breaking God's heart all the more. Thankfully, His promises are stronger than the pains of this world and His love has already overcome!