We Jesus-following adoption and foster care advocates love us some James 1:27.
It’s like the theme verse for our tribe.
(Lookie there, I just turned myself into an advocate with my own tribe.)
In any case, we love the part about looking after orphans and widows in their distress.
This, we yell from the rooftops, is true religion.
We sweep the edges, we seek out the marginalized, we hold the Little Ones that need a safe place for a moment. Or a while. Or a lifetime.
And it’s not just the Little Ones who capture our hearts and our attention.
We start organizations to keep kids in families.
We fight for reunification when it is safe.
We give money and diapers and phone numbers of therapists.
We offer rides and childcare and second chances.
We cry and plead before the Father for the mamas and daddies too.
This is where the rubber meets the road.
This is where faith gets frighteningly real.
This, we scream, this is true religion.
The rest of the verse seems like an afterthought.
Lots of times it’s left out altogether.
But friends, I believe the rest of the verse is there for a reason.
And (after you’ve done all this) to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
This foster care and adoption business opens our minds and our hearts to a world that is hard. Unfair. Broken. So, so broken.
A world where mere miles from my middle-class existence, mamas struggle to raise their babies with absolutely no safety net. No connections. No one to call if it all goes south. No. One.
A world where I have to answer hard questions from my second grader. Questions like, “if drugs are bad, why do people keep making them?”
A world where babies are shaken to death and teenagers call in television cameras to plead for a family of their own.
A world where social workers know the calls that you won’t refuse and so you feel used. Taken advantage of. And you say yes every time anyway because you must. Because of the Little Ones.
A world where easy answers and Christian platitudes do not cut it. Not even a little bit.
Friends, it is hard to stay unpolluted when this world collides with your own.
The words are tumbling from my heart because I am here tonight.
Feeling used. Taken advantage of. Polluted.
I am tired of calls that send my heart soaring and then sinking.
I am tired of plans abandoned, of being everybody else’s back-up.
Tonight, the taking care part feels easy (though I am the first to admit that some days it is anything but).
It’s the keeping oneself from being polluted part that is hard.
And so, I let the words tumble from my heart.
And I plead with Jesus for the Little Ones.
And for myself too.
Tonight, I plead for myself too.