Part 3: Love Hurts
Love hurts…because sometimes God takes our loved ones away.
Whether it be that dreaded day of goodbyes or intentional walls being put up, our hearts break when a relationship ends. Remember in Part 2 when I described how I feel safe? There is a hidden ache and fear that one day, my dearest loved ones will leave because of prior hurt and loss I have experienced. Not leaving necessarily through death, but the ceasing of relationship. If I get attached to someone, my heart will definitely experience pain if or when that person leaves. At that point, I have to trust that it is the Lord’s will for me to move on without that person. And I learn to lean on Him a little more.
“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” – Job 1:21
Foster care may be the epitome of children being legally taken away from their loved ones in our culture. They are ripped from the birth families they have known. And they hurt. Despite the abuse or neglect they have endured by the hands of those who were supposed to care for them, abused children still love their birth parents.
Love is vulnerable, and when you give your heart to someone else, the potential to hurt is that much greater. The more of your heart I give away to my heart children, the deeper the hurt and the grief when it comes. Our natural defense is to pull away and keep our hearts safe from harm. But in so doing, we miss out on the deep love that can occur with another image-bearer of God.
If God breaks my heart in order for a child to heal and experience the love of Christ in a safe family, it is worth it.
The longer they stay with us, the deeper the roots of love. Our longest placement lasted two and a half years. How I wept over the loss of my teenage daughter…every day and night for about a month. She left on Thanksgiving Eve in 2012. The tears eventually ceased, but the heartache lasts until even now. What made the sting even more painful was that she chose to leave. Rejection cuts even deeper. Despite what we all hope to believe, love wasn’t enough.
Not only was my heart breaking because of a relationship being ripped apart, my confidence in my parenting skills diminished to none.
Jesus kept calling me to lean on Him and I kept relying on my own strength and limited experience. (My oldest bio son was only 5 when our new 15-year-old daughter joined our family.) Had I learned necessary “skills” and implemented them successfully with a positive outcome, I would have given myself a pat on the back. I would still be grateful to God, but I know there would be a part of me that would relish in the success. But all glory is His alone and I gladly remain humbled.
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:2
When it’s a court-ordered mandate for the child to move, there are still tears and heartache. However, I know my babies will return to their birth parents, extended birth family, or transfer to an adoptive home. The pain isn’t as sharp as when someone chooses to leave. By God’s grace, none of our children have ever gone to live in a questionable situation. We have been part of joyful reunifications and know the bittersweet feelings of letting them go. We are to consider it all joy. Through these trials, God sanctifies us, brings us to our knees, and turn our eyes ever more on Jesus.
My babies, who I brought home from the hospital or from somewhere else, prayed for, fed every few hours through the night, documented their firsts, kept safe and loved, would leave us someday. Our hearts hurt every time because we loved.
And that’s the way it should be.