October 25, 2015
At one time I may have imagined that love at first sight was a preposterous idea, a result of the wishful thinking of hopeless romantics. But now that it has happened to me, I no longer doubt its possibility. She made a believer out of me.
From the moment I first met that girl, our spirits connected. It was almost like magic, the way she reached down deeply into my heart, tapping into emotions I didn’t realize I was capable of. A powerful sadness for her lost childhood and stolen innocence. A fierce desire to protect her. A pervasive sense that we belong together. She gave me the courage to say yes to something I had never thought possible: giving my heart to a teenage foster child. She taught me how to dream.
And now this terrible, shocking decision that will keep us apart. A decision I cannot understand. I cannot believe it. I refuse to believe it! How is it possible that I may never see her again? I hear the words, but they might as well be a foreign language, so incomprehensible they seem to me. I simply cannot grasp the thought that the one I love is no longer a part of my life.
Surely there is has been a big mistake. An innocent misunderstanding. Maybe my husband and I didn’t explain clearly enough how much she means to us. How perfectly she fits into our family. How committed we are to loving her for the long-term.
Maybe there is someone else we can talk to. A supervisor, maybe, or a lawyer. Or maybe we can attend the next court hearing and speak directly to the judge. Surely there is something we haven’t yet thought of. A stone we haven’t yet overturned.
God, I don’t know what to do! Please, please give me wisdom and direction and insight into this complicated situation.
OK, fine. I admit that there is nothing else I can do. I have cried and pleaded and prayed, and I have arrived at a dead end. The only thing left to do is to entrust her into your hands. Please work out the details. Orchestrate the process as only You can to bring her back to us. You will receive all the glory and honor for accomplishing the impossible. I look forward to seeing how You will write the next chapter of this story.
I promise I will never ask for anything else, ever again. Anything You want me to do, I am willing to do it. I love her so much, and I know that You love her even more than I do. Please, please, for heaven’s sake, don’t take her away from me!
People always ask me, as if the answer isn’t obvious, “Isn’t it hard when your foster children leave?” I smile sweetly, but inside I want to shout, “Hard?! Of course it’s hard! Like ice-water to the soul, it is shockingly, unbelievably, unbearably painful. When you love a child as if she were your own, then losing her is as excruciating as if she were your own.”
This is so unfair! I have only just recently begun to love her. I thought I had more time with her. Time to know her more and build memories together. I cannot lose her!
Every year tens of thousands of teenage foster youth like her age out of foster care without a family. They are at risk of experiencing homelessness, unemployment, teenage pregnancy, crime, and substance abuse.1 I don’t want her to become a statistic. I want her to become my daughter!
God, what in the world are You doing? Surely You aren’t that cruel, that You would open the doors to bring her into our family, only to slam them shut again. How can this be for her good? Why would You allow her to be stuck in loneliness and confusion and despair, when she could belong in a family? A family who adores her and, since the day we met her, has never, not for one second, stopped praying for her?
Every day I am surrounded with reminders of her. I reach for her favorite cereal at the market, only to remember that she will not be at my breakfast table tomorrow morning to eat it. I turn on the television, and there on my Netflix account is the last show we watched together, sitting side by side on the couch sharing a bowl of popcorn. When our family goes to the State Fair together, we have an extra ticket that I had purchased weeks ago when I thought she would be going with us. And with every reminder, my heart is heavy with the loss of her.
Is she thinking of me as well? Is she heart-broken and dazed at these turn of events, wondering where I am? Thinking of our family and the siblings she almost had. The father she has always dreamed of? Is she praying her heart out to a God she doubts even hears her?
When love flows strong and the recipient is no longer present, how can it not overflow into tears? I say with David, “all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.” (Psalm 6:6)
God, I want so much for her to have an opportunity to know You and to love You with all of her heart. I want to be the one to walk alongside her as she heals from her past, helping her understand what it means to forgive and trust and find peace. I want to be the one to watch her grow and bloom and become the young lady You have created her to be. Hers has been a dark, terrifying story. Hasn’t she experienced enough pain and sadness and storylines that don’t make sense? Why do You allow happiness to keep eluding her? Will she ever know the comfort and security and support of a family? Will she ever know joy?
How can I accept that this is the end? That the story God was so beautifully writing has come to an abrupt conclusion? Did He forget the “happily ever after” part?
How can I accept that I will never see her again? Isn’t acceptance like giving up? Like admitting that there is no reason to hope? Like admitting that God is incapable of accomplishing the impossible? That He doesn’t really mean it when He promises to place the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6)? I had promised that I would fight for her; if I accept the decision that has been made, aren’t I accepting defeat?
Maybe not. Maybe Acceptance doesn’t mean agreeing with the decision, or understanding an incomprehensible situation, or giving up hope that miracles can still happen. Maybe Acceptance means acknowledging that God is still good, even when I struggle to believe it. Even when He is silent and invisible, and even when the path is impassable and shrouded in confusion, He knows. He knows how the story will unfold, and He knows that not one of His promises will fail.
Maybe Acceptance means reminding myself that God has a plan for this girl, a grand and perfect plan that He is working to accomplish.2 That she is never, not for one second, outside of His loving, capable hands.
When I told her that I would fight for her, I didn’t completely understand the implications of that promise. I didn’t realize that it would be an unseen battle of faith. That the weapons I would need would not be competence and connections, the gift of persuasion and the ability to influence “the system.” I would need, instead, the weapons of steadfast patience, confident assurance, and humble obedience.
I didn’t realize that fighting for her would mean, not standing in a courtroom, but kneeling on the floor. It would mean standing still and trusting that it would be God Himself, not me, who would be the One to fight for her.3
My heart still cannot believe that she is gone, and that I may never see her again. I still find myself wondering what I could have done differently, or even now, wondering if there are any alternatives. I am still tempted to get angry at a silent God, at an impersonal “system”, at the unfair circumstances, at the unyielding people who have taken her away from me. And the tears still flow. Every day they flow at the most unexpected moments when I think of losing this one who is so dear to me.
And yet . . . He is the One who is with me as I process my grief.4 He is the One who is able to give peace and strength to my wounded heart. He is the One who can restore my joy. He is the One who can sustain me.5
He is the One who is good and faithful, and who is, even now, fighting for her. The One whose plans will never be thwarted.6 The One who knows, who has already written, the end of the story. And that, at least for today, I can accept.
2. ‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ - Jeremiah 29:11
3. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. – Exodus 14:14
4. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18
5. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. – Psalm 51:12
6. I know that You can do all things; no plan of Yours can be thwarted. – Job 42:2