Choosing to Suffer
When you look at a helpless baby, whose body will bear the scars of a grown man’s rage for the rest of his life, a lion awakenssomewhere within, ready to defend that child at any cost.
The wounds we bear from the loss of our foster babies still bleed crimson, as I bend to pick up little J. from the hospital crib. His eyes are glazed, his diaper dirty, every inch of his face covered with burns. My hands tremble as I gently lift him, not because I am nervous, but because I am afraid. I know where this path leads. I will fall helplessly in love with him. Our time will be too short. He will go to live with relatives as the plan already indicates. I will be left with a broken heart, mourning his loss as those who came before him are dredged back to the surface of my grief. Is that a place I can choose to go?
I haven’t decided that I will bring him home yet. But, if I don’t, who will? I cuddle him close as a recent conversation with my five year old replays in my mind.
“Mommy, when is baby Jennifer coming back?”
“I’m afraid that she isn’t coming back, sweetie.”
“But, we can go visit her! When can we go visit her?”
“I’m sorry, honey, we can’t see her anymore.”
“Her birth daddy wants her to just be with him. He thinks that will be best.”
“We can’t ever see her again?”
“I don’t think so.”
At which point she broke into great racking sobs right there in the middle of the airplane, and, pulling her into my lap, I cried too.
So, I hold J. and wonder if I am called to help him at such a steep cost. The kids want to bring him home, but watching them grieve is just horrible. Isn’t it my job as a mother to protect them from suffering? How can I even consider bringing them this pain again? But, it’s also my job to teach them what it means to be like Christ and, sadly, a large aspect of Christ’s walk here on earth is suffering. Our sufferings grow us as nothing else can.
I take the baby to the rocker and pull up the Bible on my Kindle, praying for leading for the thousandth time today. And God gives me Philippians 1:29 “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him.” And I feel peace. And remarkably –joy.