July 28, 2014

Wrestling with selfish love

Baby D is two months old. I know his snuggles and sounds, his sleeping and eating patterns. I dearly love this little guy like he is my own.
Every week I get him ready for his visit with his biological parents. Every single week I choose to believe that he is safer in the arms of his heavenly Father than he is in my own. I bathe him and get him dressed and kiss his little cheeks and pray over him and hand him over to the social worker.
This journey is so wonderful and so hard. The thought tugs at my mind every day – what if we have to give him back? And the thought that I hate and constantly have to battle with truth whispers in the dark – if he goes back to his family, was this all worth it?
Last night I sat and talked with a sister in Christ and fellow foster parent. I snuggled little D’s downy head in the sling on my chest as she chased her active 10 month old foster son through the room. Their little guy is heading back to his biological family in a couple of weeks. We talked about the fostering journey – so wonderful, so hard.
We talked about the choice to love – the choice to love deeply because these children are valuable, not because we can keep them or because they somehow enrich our lives. The loving choice to give foster children discipline and structure because we love them and not because it’s easy, knowing that they will be growing up in someone else’s home.
For several weeks I’ve been pondering how selfish my love often is. How often I love people, even my own children in some respects, because they add something to my life.
Today I watched a video about hospitality linked in a post on the Gospel Coalition site (for the next two days you can watch it free with the code from TGC). This quote from John Perkins stuck out to me so much, especially in light of my own ponderings and conversation from last night.
“So how do we do justice – is to see God’s image in this humanity and to serve this humanity. The problem we have is the way we do our charity and how we think of them. We approach them like we’re going to give dignity to them. You don’t give dignity to people – you affirm it. Hospitality is saying, “you are significant. I honor you. I love you. You are under my roof.” Love and hospitality is the platform that makes justice – and any kind of justice – available.”
I don’t give little D dignity. God created him in His image and gave him dignity. As I open my home to him and snuggle him and love him and cry and pray over him, it’s not because I in my goodness of heart choose to lift him up and give dignity to his life – it must be motivated by the dignity, significance, honor, and value that God created him with.
Foster care challenges us to love not because we benefit from loving. Foster care challenges us to love because people are valuable and God loved them first – because God loved us first – and commanded us to love the orphan like He loves them. Not because we need to grant them dignity and worth, but because God already created them with dignity and worth and commands us to recognize it.
If D goes back to his family, will it have been worth it? Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes.
Because it’s not about me and what I get out of it. It’s about God and a little boy He loves so dearly.