Elizabeth Stone once said, “Making the decision to have a child - It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”
But what happens when that child is gone? What happens when children grow up, leave for college? What happens when time is cut short and your heart is not only outside your body…but far off, distant, in a place you cannot see?
What happens when your heart is scattered in a thousand pieces, and there seems no way to retrieve each one of them?
I lay my Bible down and sit at the round table. A beautiful soul describes how everything she has known has been stripped straight from her. Pieces…scattered. And how do you know who you are, when everything is gone, and there is no visible substance to stand upon?
Another tells of her scattered pieces; how life has tossed her, shaken her from what she used to cling to. I can relate.
As a foster parent, it is can be easy to lose your identity, or to place your joy in people or scenarios that might fail you.
Sometimes, (no a lot of the time) I forget that I am only human.
I remember the day He left. I took his hand and we walked nearly a hundred steps around a park I haven’t dared to go to since. He didn’t say a word; didn’t run to play, didn’t race around like his little legs usually do. We just quietly walked, hand in hand, on that stone lined path, as if we both knew, huge pieces of our hearts were about to be torn out of us.
After nearly two years, did he know what was coming…the loss, the tears…as I left him with his new parents?
Sometimes it’s hard to find out who we are, when life comes to wreck us, health fails us, people betray us, loved-ones leave us, never to return home again. Our identity can feel scatters, lost, tossed into a million places.
At that circled table at our women’s group; we worship. We lift God in our center, offering Him abandoned hearts, willing heads, and empty hands. All of us standing with pieces scattered. None of us are alone in our brokenness.
Yet there, abandoned under His banner of love, something happens; God grabs those lost, broken, hurting pieces and glues them to the Rock (Him). And even if a sledgehammer comes, we have nothing to fear. No matter where our hearts lies, nothing can divide what He died for.
Our son sweeps across my mind, and then another Son reminds me that nothing we have left or lost, nothing that has been torn from us, will separate us from the love of God. He takes our fragments and makes us whole. It is because of His sacrifice, we can lay at His feet even the most destitute pieces of our soul.
That path, our little boy and I walk that day… It’s rock footing, no coincidence…Our moment, our unspoken message, that stone…a forever reminder….
We don’t need to hunt for, dig for, or fear leaving our hearts outside our bodies. Radical love is a call to abandon ourselves; trusting God, in His time, in His way, to pick up the pieces.
For isn’t real, sacrificial love to give and keep giving, even when we know we aren’t getting anything in return.
And if God is our identity, can’t we trust Him to pick up the pieces? Make us whole?
When it’s all about Him anyway.
Read the rest of the Not About Me November series.
Though born, raised, and still living only miles from where she grew up, Jen's heart lies in the nations. Jen loves the beautiful tapestry found in the wide diversity of people, different cultures, and all nations. Jen and her husband have been married twenty years, and have parented fifteen kids and counting; twelve foster, one adopted, and two bios. Her multi-racial family reflects her passion for unity, desire for faith without walls, and missional mindset to share both the gospel and the power of redemption to a world desperately needing the hope found in Jesus Christ. Jen and her husband have led in a variety of ministries; including prayer, small groups, children's, and women’s. Jen advocates for the orphan as a board member for the non-profit, A New Song; and loves doing missions work internationally, along with her family. You can find Jen writing about faith, while challenging her readers at her blog, Rich Faith Rising, as well as at tweeting faith-filled messages @Jen_Avellaneda . Jen is also on facebook.
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11/6/2013 10:20:13 am
11/7/2013 04:38:48 am
11/7/2013 03:10:09 am
"Radical love is a call to abandon ourselves; trusting God, in His time, in His way, to pick up the pieces." - love that Jen!
11/7/2013 04:41:26 am
Thanks Melissa - Sometimes it seems easier if God would just scoop up our pieces all at once, and erase all our memories of difficult situations. But I guess that's where faith comes in. So glad we have a God who will never leave us in our brokenness....
11/7/2013 10:53:13 pm
Visiting from Emily W. - I'm touched, encouraged, and led even more to consider fostering. My husband and I have prayed many years about it and we are still seeking His timing and open. Thank you!
11/11/2013 02:43:17 am
Emily - Praying with you, my friend, that if it's His good and perfect will for you and your family that you will hear His voice clearly, follow His path fearlessly, and joyful receive this wonderful and blessed calling! Thanks for your comment and sharing your heart Emily!
11/11/2013 11:34:24 am
Sacrificial love - where we expect nothing in return - these little hearts that grow and leave teach us that. Sacrificial love can take us to our knees - and leave us feeling there's a hole in our heart:) You express it - and God's redemption of that love so poignantly and heartfelt - like you knee my struggles and heart! You blessed me. Thank you!
11/12/2013 01:17:51 am
Bluecotton - Yes, our Redeemer! Our Hope! The reason we can give everything! His example of sacrificial love, the reason fists can loosen, gradually. So glad you were blessed today, my friend!
11/12/2013 04:22:22 am
Jen, you love with reckless abandon. I see Him in you. This was beautiful. Thanks for sharing it with us.
11/12/2013 07:20:55 am
Lyli - You are the sweetest! I cannot wait to meet you in person at the Missional Conference this April!
Oh, my goodness! This touched me right where I'm at....struggling to find who I am and still love sacrificially in the midst of the questions you asked at the start of your post..."What happens when children grow up, leave for college? What happens when time is cut short and your heart is not only outside your body…but far off, distant, in a place you cannot see? What happens when your heart is scattered in a thousand pieces, and there seems no way to retrieve each one of them?" I know the answer...trust God, but this is more difficult than I thought it would be. This is a choice I have to make daily!
This is so true! I think the problem I have sometimes is that I make too many things about me and how it affects me. The kind of love God calls us to requires that we be constantly putting Him, and the needs of others above our own....and the beautiful thing is THAT is when the true desires of our hearts are most fulfilled in Him.
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