Children in Foster Care, Foster Parenting, Make a Difference MondaysDec. 10, 2018

Make a Difference Monday | On Offering Compassion and Doing Justice When I’m Afraid.

In this journey there is a constant testing that has brought me to tears, to clenched fists with exasperation, and to my knees. The process of writing is a friend to me. It takes me by the hand and helps me relate to the emotion that swells within and looms large in me.

What begins in her has so much to teach me. Wounds that may be invisible to many are constantly present. But God is gracious in gently calling us all toward healing. He does not force, He beckons.

She asks again and again with her words and behavior, “can I lose your love? will you leave? am I enough?”

There is a cost for us in pursuing a relationship with her first family. It wrecks me and makes me question everything. This relationship reveals brokenness and the failures of systems. It asks hard questions that do not have easy answers. It brings up feelings in me of inadequacy, insecurity, jealousy, resentment, and fear in my very being. It brings out the worst and darkest parts in me.

And I am grateful for it.

The message of Christ is that things really are THIS bad and dark and we cannot heal or help or save ourselves. But NEVERTHELESS there is HOPE. Nevertheless there is hope. Not hope in what we control, what we generate, or heck, not even in what we can see…but there is hope. Some will think this is naive, but the deeper I allow myself to become immersed in pain, the truer and realer this becomes.

All this is teaching me that our parenting will never be enough for our kids. Any of them. I am convinced over and over again that God brings our children to us to help us learn, unlearn, and relearn things about Him and ourselves if we only surrender to admitting we cannot do this. As I remind my children they cannot earn love that is lavishly bestowed upon them, He constantly is placing His hand on my shoulder reminding me I can also quit hustling.

There are gaping holes in our experiences and limited understanding that can create vacuous spaces where fear or judgement easily rushes in. I am choosing to combat this by loving. Even Especially when it is costly. Martin Luther King Jr. said we must “take a position on love.” For me, this implies it is not simply an emotion or warm feeling. It is an action that will require taking a stand.

I am trying to take a position of offering love even when it is rejected, tested, undeserved, or desperate to be earned. My position is that is is worth giving even when it cannot or will not be returned. May Jesus do this work in me.

I recently read Tattoos on the Heart and Father Greg says, “Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It is a covenant between equals.” I have no doubt he arrived at this assertion after counting the cost of casting his lot and life in with gang members again and again without “proof” that is was worth it.

We you stand at a distance from the hurt and hard things, it is easier to see
the division,
the difference,
the diagnosis,
the disunion.

But when you sit for 2 hours on holy ground in a Wendy’s restaurant or let go of her hand and any control at a Chuck E Cheese, it becomes so true that we are equals and we are all just showing up. Neither offering the other a quick fix or easy solution but created beings dearly loved by our Creator. I cannot offer compassion until I have a deep realization regarding the compassion offered freely in response to my own brokenness. I cannot add anything worthwhile to the fight for justice unless I see my very own self being complicit in the injustice. My greatest enemy is not “others,” it is my own fear of not being enough. It is my own questioning of God, “Can I lose your love? Will you ever leave me? Am I enough?”

In a sermon I reread recently, Dr King also said, “We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.” This image has made me pause, this picture of a bunch of scared people building a dike together to hold back the fear has come to me in a dream and over and over again while awake. When I actually take the time to quiet myself, I see big rocks being carried by rough hands covered in blisters and scabs. But the hands are beautiful because this building of a dike is brave and nonsensical in a world that tells us to fear each other. When we act courageously, when we are afraid and wounded, we do anything but acquiesce to fear; we boldly proclaim that we stand on love that cannot be wasted.

Courage doesn’t look like big heroic acts, rather it is in many small every day moments of choosing to trust and to act, to lay down my control (or perceived control), to take a stand on love, even in the mess when I cannot see a way forward. I am walking into that place, friends. If you are afraid, you are in good company. I will link arms with you and bring my rock if you will bring yours. I will say I don’t know what I’m doing either, but I will take a stand on love and build dikes with others to hold back the flood of fear. And fear will not go away, but as we stand in love, it will be overwhelmed. Because there is hope.

I’ll join you if you will join me and remind me when I often lose sight.

Roxanne Engstrom

I’m Roxanne and I’m seeking to follow God where He calls. It is always an adventure. We are on a foster care and adoption journey that has been costly and beautiful. I am grateful because we know more about how real the cost is of stepping out in faith and how beautifully God shows up—not to fix, but to be present. I follow Jesus because He is the lover of my soul, my savior, redeemer, and friend. His promise of freedom is real. I always have more questions than answers, but I want to spend the rest of my days pursuing closeness to God and peace for people everywhere. Join me at Immeasurably More, where I blog about life!

Comments (0) Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment

Site Search

Connect with your Area!

Featured Links

Gobena Coffee Lifesong for Orphans Podcast