Unconditional love is a beautiful, holy, precious thing…but it’s also a really, really hard one.
A love that says “I want what is the very best for you even if it is the most painful for me” is not simple or straightforward. It’s not pretty. It’s not clean. And it’s definitely not easy.
Tomorrow afternoon there is a really good chance that a child my children have loved as a cousin for the last 18 months will vanish from our daily lives as quickly as she popped into them in November of 2016. We’ve traveled with her, had sleepovers in our house, nursed her when she was sick, played with her and argued with her more times than I can count. She came into our extended family with a big, dramatic personality that quickly drew every single person who knows her into a tight knot around her finger. She has loved big and deeply and we have treasured her as our own.
And tomorrow will wave goodbye. The adults in her life are processing lots of hard questions — can her mom truly care for her now? Is she ready? Does she have the resources she needs? A support system? What if she doesn’t? Who will know? Who will rescue? Who will help?
Maddie and Hudson are processing in entirely different ways. We’ve walked a lot of hard conversations this year about why some parents can’t take care of their kids and how they don’t need to worry about that. We’ve dissected what it means to love someone and yet not be able to care for them and the reality that some parents cause harm instead of good for their children. We’ve fought hard to retain innocence while growing an understanding that there’s a world that needs our help.
Yesterday, we talked about a family birthday dinner we were planning for Maddie & Hudson. As we planned for the evening, Maddie looked up and said, “This is the last time we’re ever going to see _____, isn’t it?”
It wasn’t, but tomorrow probably will be. Maddie told me today that she is afraid she’ll cry when she says goodbye. And she doesn’t want to cry, because she knows ______ must “be so excited to be with her mom again.” Tonight, she prayed: “Dear God, please please please let the judge say that ______ can go home with her mom tomorrow, because even though we will be really really sad and miss her so much, she needs her mom, too.”
SC is in a foster care crisis. Over 4200 children in our state are in foster care – and that number is steadily rising. Right here in Lexington and Richland counties, over 600 children are in protective custody. We need foster homes, guardian ad litems, social workers and so many more to support each of them. About 3 years ago, my sister began her journey towards opening her home to children who needed a safe place to stay. She’s the real hero of this story, and the way that she is being used to change lives will forever be one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. But man, is it hard.
But it is good. It is right. It is holy.
Psalm 10:14 says it this way: “But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted. You consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.”
So we will say goodbye tomorrow. We’ll do our best to do that with a smile and with excitement for the restoration of a family. But it will hurt. There’s a good chance we’ll all get in the car and cry.
And, when my sister is ready, we’ll do it again. Because loving hard is part of loving well, and we will be the helpers. There isn’t really any other choice.