A white man sits a bench down from me at the park. It should have been a glorious day; sun shining, children laughing, playing; life balancing on the edge of spring.
But a child giggles loudly; heart sinks, history comes dancing back; his face; dark, round, smiling bright with white teeth like the one I keep missing, deeply. Regret strikes as I see him, a reflection plunging me back into the depths I keep swimming from.
My eighteen-year-old next to me shifts on our bench. I know that stance well, one of sorrow, regret. "We must forgive, and move on," I whisper robotically through my lips, wishing formulas really could heal heart wounds, and time really was the cure for this suffocating loss I feel.
"Is she yours?" The man next to me nods towards my own dark skinned, adopted daughter playing freely on the playground.
"Yep. Those yours?" I point to the two African-looking boys playing with her.
And God knows we need help in our bumpy roads to healing, some kind of angel to speak life into us when this seemingly eternal wrestling of Jacob, just won’t fix us.
As foster parents, the biggest question I hear is, "How do you let them go?" Whenever I hear it, I want to laugh; as if I have some secret to not getting ground up, each time I look on an
I mean, if love truly has no ending, isn't it a question of, "How do you separate from
them?" Because in reality; true, deep, eternal, God-love....never let's go.
I found out my bench neighbor is, Matt; him and his wife, foster parents, adoptive parents. He is also a pastor.
And in my own internal struggle, I had missed seeing what he was reading…a Bible, opened to the book of Matthew.
Matt has no “secret formula”. He doesn’t even “get” the weight of resemblance my foster child has with his son.
Or maybe he does?
We talk forward, about faith and the future; finding more commonality than just our children. He too is a speaker about adoption. He is passionate about the orphan, and tells me
how nearly half his church has a role in actively caring for foster/adopted children.
And just when we might think we’ll be swallowed by sorrow, God in his grace brings people to tell us, “You are not alone in your heartache, in your grieving.”
And could it be our broken pieces are the bridges to other people? Our passions what lead us to our God-given purpose? Our heart ache the fuel propelling us to lean in perseverance, to lay lower, dig deeper into His call and purposes for us?
“You’ll do great! I’ll be praying for you!” Matt calls, tucking his head back in Matthew, as I take my littlest to the bathroom.
I never see Matt again. But as I write this, I am prompted to look up the name “Matthew”. It
means, “Gift of Yahweh”.
And no, people aren’t our salvation. Children or ministry are not our sole hope for living. Matt in himself was no saint worth exonerating. He was just a vessel God used that day.
But just when we think the road is narrow, the way too dark, God in His grace shows us a bruised reed will not break, giving us water when we are most thirsty; calling us forward; offering crooked beams of light for our healing.
It is then those gifts of grace are a “Gift of Yahweh”. Will we choose to see them?
Yet, Yahweh promises to never leave us, and sits on the bench beside us today friend…even if we fail to see Him.
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.