Our children have faced so much loss in their short little lives. The loss of getting to grow up with their bio parents. The loss of relationships with their extended bio family. The loss of love and comfort and safety and so much more. Loss is hard for anyone. For children who come from hard places though, loss is all the more difficult because they have known way too much of it. They constantly fear it. When will the next bad thing happen? And the thing is, that loss and walking through hard things hasn’t stopped since becoming a part of our family.
I will never forget our children’s excitement about meeting their new grandma for the first time, and then their fear when they realized she didn’t have any hair because of her cancer treatment. It’s been a year now since she died, and there are still plenty of days that our kids bring her up and shed tears for this woman whom they only met once. Sometimes I will be in church and look over and see my son crying. As I put my arm around him and draw him close to me he let’s me know how much he is missing her.
When I first told our children that their Pops (my dad) is really sick, there was no stopping their tears. They love their Pops and want him around for a long time. When we have visited with him, I can still picture one of our sons laying on the bed with him watching a movie. There are days when one of the kids will anxiously say to me, “I don’t want anything to happen to Pops.”
During the winter and spring there was no hiding from our kids that mommy and daddy were really hurting because of some hard stuff that happened outside of our family. We tried to protect them from it, but they are all too perceptive. They have felt great loss as they have seen us cry and feel utterly broken. When things were happening that didn’t make sense, we have had to hold them as they shed tears of sorrow time and time again.
Recently my kiddos were in church with me when they heard an announcement that someone they consider like an aunt to them was needing surgery on her heart. They turned to me with eyes like saucers and I could tell they were super scared. They love this woman. This woman has loved them and seen them when others may have been too uncomfortable to do so. When we got to visit her in the hospital after her surgery, they were so happy she was doing well.
Less than a week later and our children are standing in the hospital room of another dear friend who just had a double lung transplant. This woman truly enjoys our children, has taught them, has spent time with them, and has even let them sleep on her bedroom floor when our kids have been scared. As we walked together as a family through the hospital, one of our sons squeezed my hand as tight as he could and wouldn’t let it go. I held him close on my lap as we visited with this friend. They pray for her and their “auntie” every day.
Today our son just found out that one of the teachers that works one on one with him died last night. The unexpected blessing was that my hubby was there with him when he found out about her death. It is clear that God was at work and knew our boy needed his daddy who got to spend some time holding him and crying with him. Our boy’s heart is heavy. Through tears he said some precious words about his teacher, “She was the best teacher ever.” And with sadness, “my brother and sister never got to meet her.”
So much loss. So many hard things. Things that you wish you could protect your children from. Things you wish they didn’t have to go through. And yet, as we have seen them walk through so much even since becoming our children, we have seen their hearts grow. Their hearts have been broken, but not hardened. Broken, but not deadened. Broken….and softened. Broken….and enlarged.
We have witnessed our children pray over one of these friends in her hospital room. We have seen them gently hug and care for another friend while visiting her. We have seen them love on friends who needed extra care by seeking to make the day about them instead of their own desires. We have witnessed our kiddos pray for people who have hurt us. We have seen our children’s righteous anger over injustice and loss and seen them love despite their deep wounds. We have gotten to watch them lay down their own rights for the good of another.
I have loved the book The Broken Way by Ann Voscamp. In it she says, “There is no way to avoid pain. There is no way to avoid brokenness. There is absolutely no way but a broken way…being brave enough to lay your heart out there, to be rejected in a thousand little ways, this may hurt like a kind of hell-but it will be holy…Love only comes to those brave enough to risk being broken-hearted.”
I see my children being brave when no one would fault them for not. I see them beautifully, imperfectly reaching out to love and be loved even in the midst of their fear. I learn from this. I ask God to continue to help me be as brave as they. To love people who may not even want my love. To love those I have wounded and who have wounded me. To love our kiddos despite the rejection we feel when harsh words are said, when we are betrayed, or when one of them tries to run away when their past trauma is triggered.
Loss. Brokenness. Being undone.
May it lead to greater love!