As we were sharing stories of some of our cases over dinner one night last week, someone asked us,
“How do you not get overwhelmed?”
When we arrived four years ago, we were fresh and new, ready to give every child and every situation our all. Back then we were a little more ignorant and naïve and thought we could handle pretty much anything.
But then kids continued suffering, and parents disappointed us, and families broke apart, and our waiting list grew larger than our classrooms, and we had to turn families down and the need became overwhelming.
There were times I found myself wanting to say no to doing that home study because that baby looks so neglected, and we don’t have more space, and if we never go we won’t know and we won’t be responsible and maybe we can avoid one more painful, perceived failure to make things better.
Four years in, I can see us disengaging. Those cases that are still waiting for our help, they don’t keep us up at night anymore. And I can’t make up my mind whether that is a good thing or not.
Are we becoming hard? Or just smart?
I don’t know. I really don’t know.
Because there is a part of me that knows that if we carried them all on our shoulders, every child that is suffering, we would just crack into a million pieces. And then we would be just as broken as the ones we are trying to help.
But becoming numb is also scary. We don’t want to become hard to the suffering. We still want to be able to cry with the mother whose child was taken away; we want to speak hope into situations that seem hopeless and have the energy to stand up and fight for another family to stay together.
We are constantly learning to find the balance of being realistic and understanding our limits, but not being afraid to feel grief and hope.
I think the key is remembering Who is the source of that hope, always looking to Him for the courage, the compassion and the resiliency to face each new challenge with objectivity and grace.
At the end of the day, our undying hope – our life’s passion – is to love each child, each family, like Jesus. That we might be known as His children by the way we love. And as that love flows from us that it might change others.
Cheers to 4 years of chasing this crazy, beautiful, stressful, amazing, and yes, sometimes overwhelming dream to keep children in families!
(The pictures have nothing to do with today’s post. We realize. But aren’t they all just so cute? The kids present what they’ve been learning at March’s Under-the-Ground themed Expo!)