The letter arrived on his 30th birthday. I saw the local agency’s address in the top left corner and my heart sank.
Foster home status: closed.
The words leapt out and burned deeply. Hot tears fell as my fists clenched in anger.
Really God?! On Jay’s 30th birthday?! How cruel and unfair is this??
Even as my heart shouted the words, I knew I couldn’t show Jay. Not today. Why ruin a birthday with this news? It could wait until another day. And so I folded the letter and slipped it into a drawer.
It was the final lash to my bruised heart, the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. After the letter was tucked away, I sat in the rocker staring out at the sunshine. How do you pray big prayers when your heart is broken and weary? How do you muster up the faith to break the mundane chantings and safe little pleas?
I couldn’t. I was too scared. I’d prayed big bold prayers with faith-filled heart just one year ago. God had answered and rocked our world- first with joyful anticipation, then stretching glorious foster parenthood, and then with shockingly searing loss.
And at first, I’d stood firm, declaring my faith in my God and His power. But the waves of grief and time and pain came crashing over me, and eventually I lost my grip- all without realizing it.
Then I had a conversation. Just another conversation with another curiously caring person, and I said what I always said. She kept asking questions, tough, hard questions, and I gave all the right answers, and walked away, uneasy and unsure why.
I mulled over it for a few days. And I realized why something felt so wrong. I didn’t believe any of it. I’d stopped believing in bold faith, in trusting confidence. I’d stopped believing in a God who looks after and cares for me, Who led us here- right here- for a reason.
I had a weak, trembling faith.
Looking back, I’m still not sure when the cracks started.
You know how you turn off a light and stumble to bed, bumping into furniture and stubbing a toe until your eyes adjust to the darkness? I believe the heart works the same way- keep out the Light long enough, and it adjusts to the blackness, and you don’t realize just how immersed you are or how calloused you’ve become.
But when I dug deeply and pulled on the tangled mess of my heart, I came to the center- to the lie that I’d allowed the enemy to sneak in. I didn’t believe God loved me enough to give me good things.
I still believed God was good and just and caring- just not to me.
The truth seared, and I battled hard. How did I get back my faith?
The beauty of it all is I can’t. I was broken, empty, and searching- right where God wanted me, where He needed me.
I needed to be broken to see that my God could comfort, heal, and love when I seemed beyond repair. I needed to rely on Him, lean on Him, and ask Him.
And I did. With trembling hands raised and voice quietly humbled, I asked for forgiveness, for healing, for faith.
I boldly stepped up to His heart and asked, as His beloved daughter, to be shown just how much He adores me.
I asked Him to give me faith, and to trust Him even when He feels far away.
I asked for His will to be done, battling lurking doubt, worry, and fear, stepping out of my comfort zone, and following Him into places I never thought I’d be.
It is so very hard for me to joyfully trust my God. I beat back the voices of doubt that nip at my heels, and speak out against the fear that lurks, just waiting for me to turn and pay attention. The battle is real and fierce and wearying.
But, it is edifying and changing and redeeming my heart. I don’t understand our loss, I don’t know what our future holds, and I don’t like the pain.
Here’s the truth- God loves me. I’m clinging to that. That is all I need. When I focus on how my God absolutely and completely loves me, my perspective is righted.
Hallelujah! We are free to struggle- we’re not struggling to be free. (Tenth Avenue North)
I can come to Him anytime, anywhere- and know He is longing to hear from me. He wants my hurt, pain, and anger. He wants my wrestling and tears. Because when we love someone, we fight for them, and for their heart.
So, I fight back the dark by focusing on the Light. As I worship and praise my Father, I know I can rest in Him. Amazing Grace is changing my life.
Will you let it change yours?
You, deep in the trenches, and weary of the battle;
You, with the years of pain and anger, hardened into a heart of stone;
You, steeped in abuse and pain;
You, with broken dreams and broken heart;
You, with the messy and seemingly hopeless life;
You, stuck in the waiting;
You, in the mundane familiar;
You, with the new and scary future;
You, with the busy schedule and crazily haphazard life;
You, in the middle of fear, doubt, and worry;
You, with the hurting heart and tear filled eyes;
You, the unrepentant sinner-
You are so. very. loved.
Don’t forget that.
Cling to that and let His Love heal.
He is our Tear Collector, our Heart Mender, our Source for what is true.
“He shot his arrows deep into my heart. The thought of my suffering and hopelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The unfailing love of the Lord never ends! By His mercies we have been kept from complete destruction.” Lamentations 3: 13, 19-22