August 30, 2013

Empty Hands Full of Hope

He is gone.  Without fanfare or ceremony, without even a proper good-bye, he is simply gone.  I knew this moment would inevitably happen, of course.  It started with overnight visits, which were confusing and distressing enough.

And then one day he left for a visit and did not return.

Now what?  My days had long ago settled into a familiar routine of caring for him.  Showering his face with kisses.  Snuggling with him, just so, in the crook of my neck.  Anticipating his needs.   Celebrating his milestones.  Partnering with his medical team.  And long into the night my mind continued to formulate plans for his growth and development.  Although I have cursed insomnia as an exasperating enemy, it offered me many, many opportunities to pray for him, to open my hands and entrust him to the Lord’s care and protection again and again and again. 

Those bustling daytime hours and those interminable sleepless nights were filled with silence.  I came before the Lord with empty hands, feeling as if I had nothing to offer.  Not once did I see Him miraculously heal that child, whose birth defects will most likely remain a constant rival to his health for the rest of his life. There was never a moment when I could say, “Oh, now I see God’s purposes.  Now I understand why this child is here.”  The answer to my prayers was always the same.  Silence.

In the silence, in the unanswered questions, in the doubts and uncertainties . . . God’s sufficient grace always found me.  Even when I couldn’t see God’s hand at work, the truth of His promises never once waivered.  He was my Hope in the silence.

August 26, 2013

The Choice

The screen door slams shut as Big Sister races across the grass, not caring that her feet with their purple nail polish are bare, oblivious to her pink-tipped hair being tossed in the breeze.  Reaching for the car door before the engine has even stopped, she can barely contain her excitement.  Since school has been out for the summer, she has diligently been counting down the days until this sweet reunion, anticipating the moment when she can finally wrap her arms around these familiar strangers who have come to visit. 

It has been many, many years since she has last seen them.  Much, much too long.  A lifetime of experiences have passed since then, and a brief afternoon together can hardly compensate for the lost years.  But it’s all they have, and there is not a moment to lose.  Every second is important, when it means spending it with siblings.

August 10, 2013

Where Are You?

Night has descended, still, dark and bleak.  All across the city, while most families slumber peacefully in their beds, countless invisible children wage a battle with the fear and loneliness that have become their steadfast companions.  Children without fathers to protect them and pray for them, without mothers to tuck them in and press tender lips to their expectant cheeks.  For as long as they can remember, night-time feels like drowning in an ocean of despair. 

The less-than-perfect baby lies in the same hospital crib he has occupied since he was born.  He has never experienced the brisk breeze ruffling his hair, or a fleecy blanket swaddling his legs, or the familiar face of a mother who whispers “Sh, there, there,” when he wails his distress in the middle of the night.  He cannot be discharged from the hospital, because where would he go?  Is there no one who will love him?  Who will see beyond the deformities and envision the young man he could become?

The adolescent has not been so protected.  She knows what pain feels like, inflicted on her in anger by one of her mom’s boyfriends.  A man who sees her as nothing more than an irritating, bothersome inconvenience.  After the third, or maybe the fourth foster home, she finally understands that acceptance evaporates like dew.  Rejection has become commonplace.  She lies awake at night wondering, What is wrong with me?  Will I ever find a place to belong?

For the teenager, nighttime means something else altogether.  It means danger and self-reliance and the rush of adrenaline when the red and blue flashing lights give chase.  There is no bed, no bedroom, no home.  She has run away from every facility and group home that has tried to contain her, but the rage refuses to be contained.  The hurt and disappointment of a stolen childhood are distant memories, having long since melted away and been replaced by the ice of anger.  She is troubled and confused and dejected.  She barely remembers to ask, What does “family” mean?