As I write this, my wife and I have been spending our week packing up the belongings of our foster sons for their big reunification day with their mother. Our hearts are filled with mixed emotions. On one hand, we are glad that their mom has met the criteria to have her children back. I mean, this is one of the main reasons we do foster care. We want our home to be a godly and safe place for kids in foster care, in hopes that they can be returned to their family. Yet, on the other hand, we are extremely sad. We have had these kids most of their lives, a total of 18 months. We love these kids. When I look at them I see them as my kids. We took them in when they were hurting. We prayed for and with them. We fed and clothed them. We potty trained them. We cared for them when they were sick. We picked them up when they fell and kissed their wounds. In reality, I don’t feel in the least like I am about to deliver over another woman’s kids to her. I feel very much like I am about to deliver over my kids, kids I love and whom I may or may not ever see again. My heart aches and my stomach hurts even as I type that.
Yet, I signed up for this didn’t I? I knew entering into foster care that I was subjecting myself and my family to
probable pain. I know that on that day there will be one family rejoicing as my
family grieves. It will affect all of us. In fact, I watched as my little girl
hugged one of those boys the other day and exclaimed, “I love my brother!”
There’s not one of us who will escape hurting.
It has been attributed to Queen Elizabeth II as saying, “Grief is the price we pay for love.” Grief is exactly what I feel, very deeply. Sure, I will do my pastoral duty of putting on my smile and masking my hurt, but reality is I (we) have been cut very deeply. Know that we are not ok, even as we try to assure you we are.
Perhaps, as you are reading this you are thinking, “That is why I could never do that!” The idea is that we should avoid pain at all costs. Reality is, that is very selfish and unlike Christ. Doesn’t the Gospel compel us to run towards the hurting, even at great cost to ourselves? Did Christ look down upon the earth and exclaim, “Well, I could redeem them, but it will hurt so I won’t?” Did Christ run from the pain or did love compel Him to run towards it? This one passage of Scripture really summarizes it all for me, For the love of Christ compels us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Cor. 5:14-15). The fact is, God never called us to play it safe. He has called each and every one of us, as believers, to deny ourselves and carry a cross.
And so, we will pack up those boys and we will drive them home. We will hug them and kiss them and say goodbye. We will watch a happy mom and grandmother and try to be happy with them. We will pray with them. And then, we will get in our car and we will drive away, looking back in the mirror and aching. And if God so wills, we will do it all over again. Why? The Gospel! You see, when we were down and out and lost in our sins, Jesus Christ ran towards pain and rescued us, bringing us into his family as his own children. Yep, that’s why.