You might be interested in checking out my guest post (and all of the other cool things happening) over at the Sparrow Fund blog today.
Walking along, their faces were downcast (Luke 24).
Their conversation was full of questions. Sadness. Unfulfilled hope.
On the way, a stranger falls into step with them.
He comes near. He walks with. He listens.
Haven’t you heard? they ask.
There was this one—a man, like us.
He talked about the kingdom of God.
He talked about redemption.
He spoke with power and we dared to hope.
We dared to hope.
The stranger listened still.
Deliberately matching their footsteps,
Letting them tell their story, letting them process it all.
But something went wrong.
He did not topple our political structures in a blaze of glory.
His story didn’t end the way we expected.
This redemption he spoke about—it didn’t look right at all.
And now he’s gone.
Still, the stranger walked.
Truth would speak. Revelation would come.
The story would be shared.
But first? First Grace fell into step with them.
First Grace came near. Walked with. Listened.
And, friends, it still does.
We are talking about giants this morning (2 Samuel 17).
I don’t have to think too hard.
Fear is a giant I’ve battled my whole adult life.
Sometimes I call it other things:
Stress. Anxiety. Multitasking, even.
But, deep down, it is a hard-to-shake belief that if I stop running, stop working, stop doing all the things
Everything will come crashing down.
I think I am well acquainted with this giant, and yet it still somehow manages to surprise me with its suddenness and its power.
What are our weapons? My pastor asks.
Truth. Faith. Love.
I have fought the giant of fear with truth.
Just this week, I called it out when I felt it reaching for a stranglehold.
I spoke the words that I know this giant cannot abide.
Words of truth.
I have fought the giant of fear with faith.
I’ve written out all of the ways that I’ve seen my God show himself faithful.
In Scripture. And in my life.
I’ve chosen to believe.
I am a fighter. A doer.
So when I think about the weapon of love, I want to pick it up and beat my giant over the head with it.
But this is not the word today.
As I remember the body broken, the blood spilled, I am overwhelmed again with Jesus-affirmation.
For you, my heart hears.
Because I love you.
Today, the weapon of love is not about what I do.
It’s about what he’s already done.
His perfect love and my fear cannot coexist.
Perfect love drives out all fear.
Not my doing-love. My striving-love. My working-love.
His Done Love.
Let me just say if you are a foster or adoptive parent, you have to go to one of these.
Find one. Register. Do it.
I had grand plans of writing about each of the sessions and what I learned.
Alas, I am an introvert and being with people all day (even the most wonderful people in the world) exhausts me. So I went back to my hotel room, brewed a cup of decaf and flipped through mindless magazines. I breathed deeply. I rested.
But this is what I know.
For two days, surrounded by 700 of my closest friends,
I felt known.
Together we laughed. We cried. We shared stuff that only our nearest and dearest know. We joked about stuff that if anybody else went there, we would be on the defensive so fast it’s not even funny.
Because when we did, heads nodded. Amens resounded. For the love of all that is good, someone got it. Someone understood. Someone could yell from the rafters, “me too.”
I have a tiny pocket like this in my real life. Mostly people who are relentlessly loyal to me and my daughter and my foster babies and who have worked really hard to understand. To get it.
I have a slightly bigger pocket online—foster and adoptive mama bloggers whose words resonate in my soul because, deep down, they could be mine.
But to sit in a (really big) room, surrounded by real, live flesh and blood people with big hearts and thick skin, with fierce devotion to their kids and a very real understanding that, despite what everyone else seems to think, love is not enough?
Like crazy powerful, people.
All this to say
Friends, you are not alone.
Find your people.
And sign up for an Empowered to Connect conference.
I did not lose my mind in your face because I am (sometimes) a nice person.
And also because for you, I think, this was just a fleeting thought among many others.
And also because my daughter is not a victim and I am not a hero and when I go all mama-bear, the conversation usually starts heading in that direction.
But, the truth is, you do not know the half of it.
Can a person be spoiled if they spend the first years of their existence uncertain about everything? I’m talking about an uncertainty that is powerful and terrifying and all-consuming. I’ve never known this kind of uncertainty, and as an adult it strikes fear in my heart. Try to imagine processing it as a little kid.
Can a person be spoiled if, as a preschooler, they can cook a full meal and take care of a handful of babies and toddlers and charm their way out of virtually any misdeed? These are skills, you see. Maladaptive skills, but skills that once seemed crucial for survival.
You have no idea.
You have no idea how hard we fight for trust. For unlearning. For healing.
You have no idea of the hard, hard emotional and psychological and spiritual work we have done. The progress we have made (that, to the uninitiated, sometimes looks like un-progress—what parent wants to take an independent kid and make them dependent?)
In the same breath, you tell me that I am brave and strong, but these words ring hollow in my ears. You cannot praise my character and denigrate my parenting. They are both essential parts, undividable parts of who I am.
I hope you mean well. I do. But I dare you to go where I have gone.
I dare you to stare down the demons. To tend the giant, gaping soul-wounds. To spend very literal blood and sweat and tears in the fight for healing. I dare you to do this. And then we’ll talk.
I know I can be plenty judgmental myself. I’m sorry. Sorrier now than usual because I am reminded that I don’t know the whole story.
I believe that you are a good person.
Just, please, don’t go there with this crazy mama-bear again.
Lord, teach us to pray, they ask.
And he does.
In Luke 11, Jesus’ response to his disciples’ request begins and ends with the Father.
The one who pursues us and lavishes us with good gifts.
The one before whom we are helpless.
I am here today.
Raw. Forced into honesty by two friends—one old, one new—who don’t believe me when I tell them that I am fine. (Thank you, friends.)
It’s not that I’ve abandoned prayer lately.
It’s just that the words come so, so hard.
Only a few at a time. Sometimes only one.
No, no, no. I can’t do this.
And, in my stronger moments, Jesus.
I’m content to camp out here. To hear the word that my helplessness, my dependence is ok. Not weakness, not lack of faith. Just honesty.
But my Father is not done just yet.
You see, there is this matter of persistence. Of boldness. Of shameless audacity.
Of banging on doors at midnight.
The truth is, I am tired.
I am tired of asking and seeking and knocking.
I am tired of seeing through a glass darkly.
I am tired of asking and pleading and working for God’s kingdom to come on earth and seeing mess.
Mess, mess, mess.
This matter of shameless audacity won’t leave me alone.
And so, once more, I pray for healing. For deliverance. For light to invade darkness.
I speak names of real, actual people. Names I have spoken to Jesus a thousand times before.
Because I know who I am. Helpless. Dependent.
And I know who my Father is. Powerful. Patient. Full of grace.
Lord, I believe.
Help my unbelief.
I cried when it came on the radio again tonight.
I wonder if I always will.
It was the anthem of our time together, Little One, the drum-beat that I hope somehow made its way deep into your bones. Deep into your heart.
How he loves us. Oh, how he loves us. Oh, how he loves.
Day and night, rocking and walking and snuggling, I sang you all kinds of songs about Jesus, but always this one. It was ours.
I chose this one on purpose, Little One, not because it is my favorite song of all time, but because if there is one thing I want you to know, one thing I want you to remember, it is this.
He loves you.
I miss you, Little One. The way you rubbed your face back and forth against my body when you were tired. The way you quieted in my arms– your heartbeat, your breath synching with my own.
I love you, Little One. I fell hard and fast the moment that I met you, the moment that I first held you—tentative because you were so, so tiny, the moment that I kissed your head and it all felt like pretend.
In my mind, our time together was too short, but my mama-heart knows that for your mama, it was so very long. And for you, Little One, it was just a blink that, if all goes well, your conscious mind will never even remember.
I hope I helped you learn that the world is safe.
I hope I helped you learn that someone comes when you cry.
I hope I helped you learn that mamas can be trusted.
I hope I helped you learn what it feels like to be loved, treasured, cherished.
You were never mine, Little One, in the same way that even my own daughter isn’t mine.
You were made for Him.
You are His.
Know this, Little One, if you remember nothing else.
As much as I love you, as much as your mama loves you, he loves you more.
How he loves you. Oh, how he loves you. Oh, how he loves.