On May 26th, we got the call that our kiddos would be reunifying with their mother. We then had an hour and a half to pack up and say goodbye to two kiddos we’ve known & loved for just under a year. An hour and a half. By the end of that time, my skin was salty from both sweat and tears. Since the time we became foster parents we were repeatedly told: “Expect the unexpected.” But heck…I didn’t even know this could be on the list of unexpected. No one did. I guess that’s what makes it unexpected.
In the past week we’ve heard things like:
“This never happens.”
“I’ve never seen this before.”
“It doesn’t usually happen this way.”
Expect the unexpected.
I’m not angry. I truly believe everyone did their very best in handling a very difficult situation. We are blessed to have the team we do. And honestly, if you would have seen the smile on our little guy’s face, you couldn’t have been angry. There was joy in seeing this family reunify. Joy & hope that coincided with our sadness.
I’m sad our family and friends didn’t have an opportunity to say a proper goodbye.
I’m sad our kiddos didn’t have a chance to say goodbye to their teachers and classmates.
I’m sad I didn’t linger a little longer in their rooms during bedtime the night before.
I could be angry. I could be justified in that anger. There’s a lot that happened that shouldn’t have happened. But instead of going down that steep, downhill road, I’m choosing to be grateful. I have a ton of peace about everything. God had been preparing us in ways that no person ever could and He continues to be so present, so close to us now. My gratitude overflows.
I’m grateful we loved them so fully.
I’m grateful we consistently showed love and spoke truth into their little lives so I didn’t have to try to squeeze it all in within the last hour and a half we had with them.
I’m grateful we had the opportunity to pray with them, pray over them, and pray for their family.
I’m grateful we gave everything we had to best support them and help them thrive in our time together. I can confidently say, they were worth every single tear I cried and prayer I pleaded to make it easier. Easier wasn’t the way. It rarely is. But love – in all the ways we showed it – was the way. It always is.
Two days after our abrupt goodbye, one of my dearest friends said to me: “Lindsey, 10 years ago…you wouldn’t be OK but today, I know you will be.”
If that doesn’t speak volumes into the transformation that has occurred in my life, I don’t know what would. You all have been so kind; describing me beyond what I deserve and being in awe of what we did and what we’re walking through now. I appreciate your words so much.
Foster care has given us a unique opportunity to answer the “why” question so frequently asked. And as we walk through what is typically the situation most feared, I’ve been able to reaffirm to myself our answer to those questions. Why would we willingly open our home to children who could potentially leave us? Why would we…almost seek out the possibility of grieving the children that come into our lives? Why? Why would you do this again?
You know…as I look back over my life, I see God. He put so many people in my life – from birth to present day – that He used and continues to use to display His love for me. He put people in my life that pointed me to Truth until I was ready to accept it for myself. I had people love me when I wasn’t able to love myself. And as many of you know firsthand – I was hard to love (& sometimes I still am). But it was in seeking God & Him letting me find Him, that my heart was changed. It was in the declaring with my mouth, believing in my heart that God raised Jesus from the dead that I was forever changed. I am not who I used to be.
Today, because of His love for me, for us, I want to be used by Him – to be one of those people put in the lives of others to display His love. To stand in the gap, in the limbo of their lives and be the one who loves when it is most difficult. It’s not fantasy. My statements are not clouded by naïveté. It has been in experiencing the really hard moments, the ones where I’m completely exhausted that I see God’s strength and grace move mountains.
“For God so loved the world, he gave…” (John 3:16)
Out of deep love for all of us, He gave Himself. And because of His love, I am compelled to give like He gave. So we’ve offered our lives, our comfort, our home for those He loves; so we can be a light in the darkness. That is our why. So when children come to us, we can reassure them in their doubts of being loved, seen, and known. We have the opportunity to pour love and grace into families that, we pray, could potentially experience the joy of redemption.
“May the love you gave be worth the loss you feel.”
Those were the words penned to us from a friend that will never leave my mind. They make me cry as I repeat them now. I can say without a doubt, every ounce of pain we feel – in the emptiness of rooms, the quiet house, in the missing of those little people coming up and giving leg hugs – the pain is worth the love we experienced in having them in our lives. We are better because we loved. We’ve been changed because we loved.
So I will confidently agree with the words of this sign that hangs over the bare bed in a very empty room –
IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL
Because of Christ who lives within me.
Be brave, my friends.
Walk in love.
Choose joy because
God loves you.