Here we go again.
If planning a wedding for my baby girl wasn’t emotional enough, we are now planning our goodbyes … yet again. Barring an unexpected turn of events, we will be hugging our three guys goodbye next week. The timing is such that it falls just short of a year (by about three weeks) since they came into our home and family and lives. Our planned anniversary celebration will not happen. Thanksgiving and Christmas will be different this year than last. As we all gather to celebrate the wedding and marriage of our sweet Nat and Kyle, the three empty chairs will certainly be evident. The hectic wedding days of loved ones coming and going will take our minds away from our sadness, but the quietness of an empty room that was once filled with three very rambunctious fellas will still be deafening at times.
So many people ask us how we do it. Investing hours which turn into weeks which turn into months that last almost a year is not uncommon in the journey of foster parenting. Opening our hearts to kids we know will leave could never be described as easy or pain free. As I think about it, I know very few Jesus people who would not have a difficult time becoming involved in the lives of troubled kids and their families and not feel emotionally drained at the prospect that one day, after molding as a family, the kids will most likely go back into unknown situations. I would not be honest if I said that you “get used to it.” After only 3 1/2 years of hellos and goodbyes, I have a feeling that no one is ever totally ready for letting go.
Saying goodbye brings such a mix of emotion and feelings. Returning to a little more “normalcy” in our lives is not all bad. There are some really hard days in this journey. As parents, we’ve exchanged exhausted glances across the room in which our boys were arguing and fighting, shouting cruel things at one another. Some nights we have longed for peace and quiet. Brent’s responsibility as a dad weighs heavily on him at times, especially dealing with disrespectful attitudes. Even worse are the days that it’s clear they don’t care at all … about anything or anyone. Mornings are hectic and weekends are full. Our date nights have certainly changed as have meal times. Even as I sit here typing in the quiet, I realize there will be more of this in the future. And that feels good, not sad.
And yet … if we linger on where they are going and what they will be doing, we could become dismayed and disheartened. We can talk ourselves into thinking the worst for their futures. Instead of thinking about the fun we’ve had and the joy they’ve brought, it would be so easy to slip into despair and think about life without them. Because really they have been such fun. Dimples and lost teeth. Mama jokes and pranks with bugs and spiders. Horrific bodily smells during dinner and muddy feet on carpet. Hugs and kisses and tender moments at bedtime. Hundreds of questions about God and Jesus and heaven and death. It doesn’t take long for our minds and hearts to wander into the unknown … and wonder if they’ll be OK. Even though we know God cares about the orphan much more than we do, our human understanding keeps us shortsighted. But … Can not the God who brought them into our lives care for them for the rest of their days? Is He not good? Is He not able?
YES! He is good. He is able. Even MORE than able. Whatever He begins, He finishes. We are saying goodbye for now. But we must say goodbye and hold on to faith. Faith, not in what we see, but what we don’t see. Faith in the God who has done so many things before this goodbye and will do so many things after it. He is present. He is everywhere. He is always.
We are holding on to the promise that His love never fails. Thanks again to so many who follow us on this journey. Your prayers matter.
Now to Him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.