Disclaimer: this is real, folks, probably showcasing sin in my heart. I'm not attempting to justify anything I'm about to say. I just want to tell it like it really is over here. 2 months ago, we had a 5-year-old living in our home who was, on-the-whole, a grateful and joyful and respectful and obedient and compassionate boy. The last 2 months, that 5-year-old has turned into a selfish, disrespectful, ungrateful, angry, impatient, and disobedient child before our very eyes. I don't say this in slander but out of heartbreak and sorrow and compassion. I say these things with hope that the Lord has every power to restore and redeem what Satan has stripped from him. Still, this is what we're living with 24 hours a day over here. It is as if the child I raised has completely vanished most days, being replaced by a terrible distortion.
Because of this, our emotions are so different than we ever imagined. The visits we once dreaded, we now look forward to, in a way. as a much-needed time to catch our breath. The sweet and heartbreaking evenings we anticipated of snuggling on the couch, making sweet memories, and dreading that final day have turned into awful, gut-wrenching evenings filled with disrespect, yelling, spitting, hitting, throwing, kicking...you name it. We're tempted to feel as though we are watching 2 years of hard work being destroyed before our very eyes, but we know that the Lord is the one who builds, and the Lord is the one who produces fruit, and the Lord is the one who is faithful to water and cultivate seeds planted in our hearts. He can cause all things, even this, to work together for our good.
"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
And let steadfastness have its full effect,
that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
We are thankful for the steadfastness that the Lord has so clearly produced in each of us through the entirety of this journey. If you had just dropped us in the middle of this season, we would have crumbled, but having been through very rough patches along the way, we have an endurance that has been produced by the Holy Spirit. I say this to point out the truth of the phrase I mentioned months ago - God does not give us grace for our imaginations! If I had been sitting in foster parent training, hearing stories like the ones going on in my house right now, I would have been very tempted to run in fear. God gives us grace for the specific tasks He calls us to. In this season, I am tempted to give in to fear every single morning, every single afternoon around 2:30 when the bus comes down the street, and every evening around 7pm when I know the bedtime melt-down is about to strike, but over and over God is faithful to give me the grace that I need.
"He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Sometimes, He gives me strength to endure. Sometimes, He brings my husband home at just the right time. Sometimes, He sends me an absolute saint who spends the afternoon with us. Sometimes, He supernaturally brings peace to my home for a moment or two. His grace goes before me...despite my unbelief.
"If we are faithless, he remains faithful."
2 Timothy 2:13
Oh, the joy and peace of being a child of God. He is so, overwhelmingly good to us. patient with us, merciful toward us, and loving. I am repeatedly reminded lately that my patience and mercy and love are so very small compared to His. I have 3 hours alone with K-man in the afternoons, and I'm about ready to tear my hair out. Honestly, there have been many nights that I have come closer than ever to throwing in the towel. My sinful heart has cried out that I just wanted the boys out of my house. For lack of faith and lack of selfless love, I wanted an end to being spit on and disrespected and disobeyed and pushed away. And now it's Christmas, and we're celebrating God's response to OUR disrespect, disobedience, and wickedness. I want to selfishly step away. God chose to lovingly, mercifully, and patiently draw near - to the point of being put to death by those He came to save. I'm deeply humbled this Christmas by how much wider and longer and higher and deeper is the love of Christ than my love will ever be, and I'm praying to that same God to show that same love to these boys for the rest of their lives and to captivate them for the gospel - something He does not need me for at all.