Children in Foster Care, Forgotten Fridays, Foster ParentingJan. 13, 2017

Forgotten Friday | Their Hearts Matter

“Guard your heart,” they said.

I almost bought into it too…

…and I understand where they’re coming from.

Protect my heart. It’s the only way. Love half-way so that my heart can’t break. If I don’t let myself love this guy with all the love in my heart, there is less of a chance that I’ll hurt in the end.

I know they’re just worried about us, worried that our hearts will break. They love us, they don’t want to see us in pain.

This little man who we have fallen so deep for… To think about him leaving… is heart breaking to say the least. How can I keep myself from feeling pain and mourning for a lifetime when he’s gone? Simple: I can’t… not happening.

The risk we take in foster care is falling in love with a child who may leave our home one day…

anna-kathryn-jan-13Yes… scary, heart breaking, risky… so risky that some of us close our eyes to the realities that children are facing in our communities… Sometimes I feel like the risk to our hearts is so much that we’ve forgotten the hearts of those who are truly at risk in these situations….

The hearts of the babies, children, and teenagers in the system who have been neglected, beaten, broken down and… forgotten about.

Forgotten about by everyone they’ve ever cared about, and forgotten about by those of us who say we can’t take care of them, “it’s too risky, we would love them too much, get too attached.”

Guess what, friends who would love them too much, these kiddos need YOU. These kids need somebody to get too attached, someone whose heart would break for them. Do you know that many of the children in foster care have never experienced someone loving them that much? Someone loving them so sacrificially that they would risk their heart breaking just so they could pour too much love into their hearts?

We must remember the hearts of these kids. Their hearts matter.
Maybe even more than ours…? Definitely in a different capacity than ours.

This, friends, is a heart issue. And a big one.

We know our hearts matter, of course they matter… but let’s not worry about our own hearts. Our hearts are filled with the love of family, friends, our Savior and Creator, and our love for each other. If our hearts break, it looks like we’ve got a pretty awesome support system waiting to take care of us and love us through the pain.

We must refuse to go half-in for these children, and their families, who may have little to no support system, and we must refuse to leave them in the hands of families who will not love them too much (read this and this and let your anger move you to action in our community!).

As a community of believers, will we choose to give these children only some of our hearts so that the rest of our hearts won’t feel pain..? Or will we go all in for them?

Give 100%, friends. These children need every ounce of love in our hearts to be there for them now, and even when they leave. They need us to be family who will mourn for them and miss them every day for the rest of our lives. If these kids leave their foster homes and one day find themselves in a dark place and a sad environment, they need to know we loved them so much that twenty years later, we’re still praying for them and loving them.

I am SO blessed to have a close friend and former foster mama model this for me. Just last week she showed me photos of her foster son who is a grown man now, who still calls her “mom” and calls when he needs her love. And she still prays for him, all these years later.

While I understand the concern, I urge you to be less concerned for our hearts and more concerned for the hearts of these children in foster care. If our precious foster son goes home tomorrow, each of these 181 days we’ve loved him will be worth every ounce of pain we will experience from losing him. We would do it one hundred times over.

Can I take a minute to relate this sacrificial love to all of us?

How sad would our lives be if we held back on loving people because of the risk we take in losing them. Isn’t this a risk in all our relationships? Are we promised tomorrow with any of our loved ones?

anna-kathryn-poohWhen Mercy came ten weeks early and Chris was told that she might not make it through the night, did we decide to guard our hearts in case we lost her? NO. We went ALL. IN. More in than ever, loved her more than we knew how, cherished all of our seconds with her knowing there may not be as many as we hoped. She needed us more in those days than ever. This baby boy needs our whole hearts, not the guarded versions. He needs us to love him too much today, and I think we need him too.

I think we need him so we can better understand our heavenly Father’s all-in love for us.

What if He held back on loving us because of this same risk, or because He feared becoming too attached and losing us?
What if the fear of us turning away from Him stopped Him from sending Jesus here to rescue us?
What if He guarded His heart when we were at our worst, in our deepest need of Him?

“We love because He first loved us.”
1 John 4:19

Oh, and He loved us so much, friends. SO much more than you and I could ever deserve or even begin to understand. There’s no {worldy} sense in it, yet there was never a second thought. Only love. All-in love for a bunch of broken, hurt, damaged hearts who would turn and fight and walk away. That’s me and that’s you. Let’s offer the love He has shown us to those He has put in our care. Let’s be more concerned for their hearts and less concerned for our own.

For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.
1 Peter 2:21 (NLT)

Anna Kathryn

Anna Kathryn is a wife and mom of one three year old biological daughter and one son who was recently adopted through foster care. There is not a time in her life that she doesn’t remember a strong call from the Lord to care for children in crisis. Growing up as a ‘house parent’s kid’ at a children’s home in Georgia led to working at two private Christian children’s home in Tennessee and Georgia and one state funded group home in Louisiana. These experiences revealed her own adoption in Christ and grew her desire to answer the call He placed on her life as a child. Respite care, foster care and her son’s adoption have been truly life changing experiences that she writes about on her personal blog Everyday Mercies.

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