Can you see the clouds gathering, the imminent darkness that will soon swallow you, completely blocking out the sun? You’ll soon be soaked and there is nothing you can do about it. You, a tiny human being cannot stop the storm from coming. Not even the most intelligent or wealthiest person can stop it. It WILL come. A storm is one of those things we can only wait for to run its course. There is nothing we can do to stop it or to help it lighten up, it’ll come and it’ll come in full force. If our home is built on sand, we will be swept away, torn apart and broken. But if our home is built on Him, we will still be hit, soaked and perhaps bruised but we will never fall. This is only possible not because we can rely on our own feet to anchor us through the winds and rain but because His hand holds us steady.
On January 23, 2020 our foster daughter Melody was reunified to her mom after being in our care for 1 year 4 months and 3 days. Today the sky pours with heaviness for us, the lightning and thunder are in full swing but there is a clearing where we can see the sun, producing a spectacular rainbow in the midst of the clouds. As I have made clear in previous posts, God did not design families to fall apart. We as Christians need to be doing more to protect the holy institution that is the family. We need to be doing more to protect the lives of children. We saw the opportunity in foster care for us to love, protect, and care for children as well as work hard to restore broken families. We saw the end at the beginning, we always knew the goal, our eyes were on the target. We knew that drawing an arrow from the quiver, securing it with the nock and pulling the bowstring, would have a consequence. We did not shoot our arrow in hopes of missing the bullseye.
I am reminded of a scene in one of my favorite movies “Princess Mononoke”- a Japanese anime. Ashitaka, one of the main protagonists is caught in the midst of trying to protect his village from a beast that was destroying everything in its path. He shoots an arrow that brings this beast down who with his last breath made a serious threat to those around him. Later that day, Ashitaka went to see the village “wise woman” (a type of prophetess) who asked him if he was ready to learn what difficult fate awaited him for killing the mystical beast. Ashitaka’s answer was spot on:
“I was prepared the moment that I let my arrow fly”
He knew that his actions would bare consequences and he accepted them the moment he made the decision to shoot the arrow. We should not be surprised at the consequences of the decisions we make in life. Some bigger than others, but none the less, the moment you act, you accept the consequences that come with that action, whether you’re aware of what they are or not. Ashitaka made a decision that he knew would protect his village, that was his goal. His true target was not the beast he killed but to protect his loved ones. He succeeded in protecting his village, but there would be a price he had to pay for it.
The moment we shot our arrow, the moment we said “yes” to this little girl, we accepted the consequences. We knew that it would hurt, that it would forever change us. But we knew the result, after clearing all the rubble, would be beautiful. A diamond amongst coals… Getting your heart broken is a high cost to pay to shoot an arrow. But it’s a price I’m willing to pay over and over again because the price is much higher for a child to go through darkness alone. I’m willing to pay the cost, cry my eyes out, feel my soul being ripped out of my body once, twice, maybe even three times. I’m willing to pay because I have Someone who has the power to restore me once, twice, maybe even three thousand times.
It is an interesting thing to experience this type of grief. The one grieved is not passed, nor are they out of your life. They are not even gone into any tragedy, in fact, they are back to where they were supposed to be in the first place. Still, each cell that connects my soul to my body is tearing, ripping, leaving sticky adhesive scars that are hard to come off…like glue does on paper. Each strand of DNA in my body is unwinding, splitting in two, becoming a garbled, indiscriminate code. Yet through this pain there is also an immense joy, a sense of accomplishment, a silver lining that I know will only grow to expose the clear blue skies behind it. Many times I ask myself why we did this and why we want to keep doing this. Sometimes I don’t know, yet all the time I do know. I don’t know because no one asked me to do this, why would I put myself through situations where those around me don’t understand and I myself want to escape? Yet, I do know because He asked me to do this and He put me within Himself where I’ll remain forever and where He understands perfectly without me even having to say a word. I don’t want to talk to people about it, people don’t get it. I know I’ll feel like hiding away from everyone often. Yet, still, I want to talk to everyone about it, they need to know. I want to get in their face and make it known to the world.
Some people question, is all that time and effort put into a child who ends up leaving you wasted? All the resources used, all the sacrifices made, were they all in vain?
Love is never wasted.
Do you remember the kindness of strangers? Maybe one small act from a person you have never seen again? Do you remember the love, the care, and concern of people who touch your life for a temporary moment? Nurses, doctors, teachers, even store clerks or restaurant servers. No, these moments are never forgotten. These are the things we remember forever, it is the things that give us glimmers of hope, they are the moments that shape us, nurture us and help us become who we are today.
Love, is never wasted.
What has happened is a good thing. It is what we wanted to happen. However I do ask you, do not dismiss the very real emotions, the true sense of loss. Foster parents are not babysitters. We are not nannies, we are not daycares, we are not “pretend parents”. We are parents. If you are a parent, we love, as you love.
What is and isn’t
Scattered are the reminders
Toys, bibs, tiny shoes and space
Empty space where she should be
Ticking time I need to fill
Some sounds that I think I hear
Her presence I feel is near
Yet, she is not really gone
But she is really not here
What is this place in which I
This place of yes and of no
Have you been here before?
Where the sun shines, but clouds shade
Where the digging of the spade
Hurts deep. But the seed planted
Awaits its first breath of life
Theres one way that I perhaps
Can explain this to the church
The people that are, but “aren’t”
We exist here, you and I
Already, but still not yet
In a kingdom thats divine
Seemingly far from our reach
But also within our grasp
The time before His coming
You see mourning can exist
Where great joy can also reign
So then I am, but am not
Experiencing, a loss