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Faith Focus: Where to turn when the hurt is real

The foster son. My heart never registered that descriptor – foster. There was never a qualifier, no caveat. From the moment he showed up at my door, I loved him as much as any father can love their child. He was mine; maybe not by law, but by love, emotion and connection. That wasn’t necessarily planned, but it was as inevitable as gravity. Calling me 'Dada' was among his first words. I held him, read to him, fed him, kissed him, rolled on the floor with him, wiped his nose, consoled him, helped him learn to walk, laughed with him ...

Tuesday he unexpectedly and suddenly went home. We knew it was coming. We just didn’t expect it to be so soon or be so abrupt. It was the hardest day I’ve ever lived, the deepest hurt I’ve ever felt.

Truth be told, I teetered beyond sad to jaded and angry. I know that his mom loves him and wants to care for him, the system wants what’s best for him and God is in control and has a plan for me and him. But that knowledge seems to have a hard time working its way south to ease the pain in my soul.

Some would advise: “You should be careful. Don’t completely open your heart. Protect yourself from what will inevitably come.” I can’t. I can’t live life with him and be what he needs and not fall completely in love with him. To be honest, I think to do less than that is to cheat both him and me. As bone-jarringly bad as it hurts, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. There’s a chance I may hopefully still get to see him some – experience him growing, running, talking, reading. That hope brings both joy and tears. But if not, I will cherish the short time I’ve had with him always and hold those memories tight.

As I search for meaning, purpose, and consolation, I can’t help but contemplate my heavenly Father’s infinite and unfathomable love for me. The creator of the cosmos took me in, fostered and adopted me and loved me unconditionally. Even in the midst of my tears and questioning of the Almighty, I know he is sovereign. God has a plan for both me and my "son." Knowing that doesn’t immediately ease the pain, but it does give hope.

Show me your ways, Lord,
teach me your paths.

Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my Savior,
    and my hope is in you all day long. –Psalm 25:4-5

 *Adapted from a blog post by a Buckner foster dad.

Deeper reflection:

  • What kinds of life situations make living by faith difficult?
  • When you're struggling for answers, where do you turn?

Next steps:

  • Will you pray for this family and this child this week?
  • Look to encourage someone who may be hurting.

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