When It Hurts

Sad girl2

I had known helping these children would make me feel good in so many ways, but I’d never counted on the profound sadness I would deal with daily. ~Kay Bratt, Silent Tears, pg 189

One of the first things I found out when I started voicing my dream of someday adopting an older child was that the idea scared people. Most adults seemed eager to share with me every adoption horror story they’d ever heard. It felt like they wanted to discourage me, and I found that frustrating. I knew lots and lots of adoptions were successful, but often only the bad stories got attention, and I figured that’s why people were skeptical. I still think that’s true because the majority of people are not well-informed about adoption and orphan care. But I’ve also learned that loving the fatherless almost always brings some level of heartbreak.

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. ~C.S. Lewis

Some people feel the pain more than others. Some volunteer and pray only to watch the child they love die without ever knowing the love of a family. Some watch foster kids return to home situations they know will be harmful. Some families cast off into the uncertain waters of orphan care and adoption with open hearts and a determination to make a difference only to watch their dreams crumble. The kids they reach out to don’t know how to be loved. They react to their new families’ compassion with endless rejection. And sometimes these families make the decision that loving these kids means letting them go. I don’t claim to know what that’s like or how hard that decision is. I do know that these people get the full dose of heart-break that loving orphans has to offer.

I’ve also rejoiced with friends as they watch their adopted children walk the slow path to healing. But these same people have walked through their own share of difficulty. Their adopted children have suffered, and they bring that suffering into their new families. The path to healing causes each member of the family to share in that suffering, to walk long and dark paths before finally seeing a flicker of light.

On a much lesser level, those of us who care and learn and try to do whatever we can will share the pain of loving orphans. A few weeks ago I sat in the living room with my parents, sobbing over the knowledge that many fatherless little girls are forced into the horrible world of sex trafficking. Each story I hear, every video I watch causes my heart to ache. The simple act of becoming aware and educated hurts.

God calls us to act despite the risks. Understanding that helping can hurt gives us much-needed caution and humility. So we begin with learning, listening, planing, and only then, finally, action — always ready to recalibrate when we discover the mistakes we’ll inevitably make. ~Jedd Medefind, Becoming Home, pg 67

Several years ago I found a hymn that I would play endlessly, often with tears running down my cheeks. The first line says, “Let your heart be broken, for a world in pain.” There is something deeply beautiful about becoming vulnerable and broken for someone else. It’s what Jesus did for us, after all. Nothing could ever be as horrible and yet overwhelmingly glorious as the cross, and He asks us to follow in His footsteps.

The enemy is fierce and he would like for you to think that he has won. Don’t believe his lie. ~Brother Andrew