The breeze coming down the mountain blows my hair across my cheek. I should be sobbing. An utter mess. Instead I am numb. The tears won’t come.
I am a Mother. It defines me now, it envelops my soul. I wear it carved into metal close to my heart. I am a mother, but it doesn’t feel like it. I look around the church at mothers holding their babies, mothers who know everything about who their baby is. Data measured in ounces and inches and personalities that have no unit. I hold squirmy babes on the platform at the baby dedication trying to keep them quiet, but almost hoping they won’t be, to distract the eyes of the crowd from the heart of their Mama that must be pounding visibly out of my chest. Pastor announces my pilgrim children with my last name attached. It sounds so beautiful. Never before has a name held such meaning to me. To make them Joneses is my heart’s deepest desire and I want it so bad it hurts. There is no word to describe the feeling. To give yourself completely to a child and know they will not stay… There is no word. I dedicated these children to the Lord knowing that in mere days they could be taken away. My home empty and my heart even emptier.
Last Saturday was a brutal day. I walked into a public place filled with people and I wanted to scream to the crowds “Foster care sucks!” I had to warn them. “Don’t do this! It will tear your heart to pieces! Save yourselves!”
You learn to live with a tightness in your chest and a heaviness in your heart. I always thought being a foster mom would mean that you were strong and allowed yourself to show no emotion. I sought out privacy in the bathroom and slumped against the wall. I had to pray, I had to cry, I had to fight down the emotion burning inside. Nothing. Stillness. No tears.
Sadness is a gift to avoid the nothingness of numbness, and all hard places need water. Grief is a gift, and after a rain of tears, there is always more of you than before. Rain always brings growth. –Voskamp
I arrived to the park early. Thirty minutes early actually. It was nothing short of miraculous. I pulled out my flower covered Scriptures and rolled the windows down. The birds sang and the sun shone on the page in an incredibly peaceful way.
I wasn’t even sure what to read so I went to the Psalm with the illustration added that I am most proud of. Psalm 127. Normally I am drawn to verses 3-5 because they are my foster care Ebenezer; my fight song, my song of victory. This particular morning I am drawn to verses 1-2.
“If God doesn’t build the house,
the builders only build shacks.
If God doesn’t guard the city,
the night watchman might as well nap.
It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late,
and work your worried fingers to the bone.
Don’t you know he enjoys
giving rest to those he loves?”
My deepest desire for my pilgrim children will fail if it is my desire so deep that I attempt to build it myself. If I tear down the letters of their past names to erect the names I desire for them, it is in vain. The Lord builds the solid house, himself the foundation; or I build a rotting shack, splintered and falling apart. I was working my “worried fingers to the bone…” desperate for the attorney, the caseworker, the legal team to just do something! I was working myself frantically in order to avoid the emotions I could not handle and the situations I could not control. That beautiful morning in the park I read these words.
“Don’t you know he enjoys giving rest to those he loves?”
I could almost hear him in the breeze. “Come to me child, be still and know.”
Being a foster mom doesn’t mean a strong independence with a steely ability to just deal with it. In fact, in order to be a foster mom you have to be quite weak. Weak as a child, willing to collapse in the arms of the Almighty and be still.