July 3, 2016
The Steps You Take
When I reach my hand into the mailbox and see the crisp white envelope with the county logo in the corner, my heart, as it invariably does, skips a beat. Important news seems to always come with a phone call or in a crisp white envelope. I half hold my breath while I rip open the seal. As I read the document that had been carefully folded inside, it takes a moment for my mind to catch up with my eyes. Although I can read the words quite clearly, I can not fully comprehend the enormity of their meaning. I cannot reconcile the harshness of the words with you, my sweet little one, who are perched securely on my hip.
Mother’s whereabouts unknown.
At first I am outraged. How could your mother, the one who was supposed to love you forever, so carelessly abandon her responsibilities? How could she bear to disappear into a world that doesn’t include you in it? How could she walk away from such an amazing child? Such a precious gift?
But I am also saddened. I grieve for this young woman who gave birth to you. I cannot imagine the choices and circumstances and steps that led her to this point. My heart breaks when I think that she could feel so wrecked, so trapped in her brokenness that she could see no other option except to leave.
I am so sorry for everything she is missing in her absence: your beautiful smile and your funny baby words and your wild hair that will not be contained and your tight squeezes around my neck. I am sad that she is not here to witness your first tentative steps.
Most of all, it grieves me to think that because of her choices, because of her destructive relationships and deadly habits, it means that you, my sweet one, do not have the permanence and stability and security that every child deserve.
I honestly don’t know what the future holds for you. Right now your case is sort of stuck in a broken system with overworked social workers who quit without warning. With weary judges, their courtroom dockets so overscheduled that they can’t possibly hear every case before them. With continuances and cancellations and paperwork that gets buried underneath the more pressing, urgent concerns that demand immediate attention.
Meanwhile, while we wait for the wheels of bureaucracy to move, here you are, safely tucked into my arms, my heart positively overflowing with love for you. It is such an honor, such a true joy to be your source of security and comfort during these formative years when you are learning and growing and discovering. I may not understand or even like the foster system, but how truly privileged I am to be your foster mother during this priceless time of your childhood!
No matter where your journey leads – whether remaining in a flawed foster care system or becoming a permanent part of our family through adoption or miraculously being reunited with your restored birth parents – you can be sure that your Heavenly Father has already planned the path before you. He knew you even before you were born. He sees you today, this very moment as you are just beginning to explore the world around you. And He already knows each step you will take into an unknown tomorrow. How fervently I pray that yours is a path of hope and joy and true love and abundant life!
Today you are much too young to possibly understand what those three bitter words mean: Mother’s whereabouts unknown. But some day you will realize the truth. You will be old enough to wonder. How? Why? Where? I so wish there was a way I could protect you from those words! To preserve your innocence. To so lavish you with love and connection and security that those three words will lose their sting.
I am not naïve. I do know that, unfortunately, the day will come. As you mature and grow, the day will come when you will face the harsh realities of a broken world where mothers inexplicably leave. And in those moments of doubt and confusion and questions, I hope and pray that you remember this most important of truths from your Heavenly Father . . .
Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget, I will not forget you!
– Isaiah 49:15
Regardless of the circumstances of your birth, in spite of the unknown whereabouts of your mother and the uncertainty of your future, know with absolute assurance that your Heavenly Father will never forget you! His love for you is steadfast and sure, and will never fail you.
In Psalm 136, we read the words His love endures forever not once or twice or even three times. We are reminded that His love endures forever 26 times! (I counted.) His love for you, dearest one, is unwavering and constant, following you wherever you go. When you face doubts and heavy heartache, His love for you will not have changed. Through joys and difficult circumstances, through successes and failures, through fulfilling relationships and crushing loneliness, know that His relentless, enduring love will be right there inside you, persevering through all of it.
You will most likely take, on average, about 200 million steps during your lifetime. When you think of your mother, whereabouts unknown, some of those 200 million steps may feel more like faltering gaits, filled with discouragement and feelings of rejection or despair. However, when you remember your Heavenly Father’s unfailing love for you, many – hopefully most! - of those 200 million steps will be brave strides, full of confidence and optimism and hope.
You have a lifetime in front of you, little one. A lifetime of unexpected twists and turns and maybe some crisp white envelopes along the way. 200 million steps! He has already prepared each one of those steps for you. He will be there with you wherever you go, guiding you and comforting you and encouraging you. Forgiving you and empowering you and giving you courage when you need it most.
Just think . . . 200 million steps! And He will be holding your hand through each one of them!
The Lord makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in Him;
though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the Lord uphold him with His hand.