Tuesday, September 22, 2015

standing in the gap


Jesus, who, for the joy set before him, endured the cross and disregarded its shame.
(Hebrews 12:2-4)

I've been thinking about this verse so much lately in light of our current struggle to persevere in caring for our foster daughter.  Of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, knowing that following God and offering his life to brutal death would blast through the chains that bind us to our sin, yet still beseeching God for another way.  Yet for the joy set before him, Jesus complied: "not my will, but yours, be done."  (Luke 24:42)

Of course there is joy, but there is also pain whenever you bring a child into your home and your heart, and this is especially true when the child comes in with their own wounds.  In the case of an abused or neglected child, the caregiver takes on those wounds, to some extent, in order lead the child as far as they can down the path to healing.

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The caregiver knows there will be pain because she stands in the gap for this child, and, at least for a time, takes upon herself the sins and sorrows of another, in order to offer the child safety, healing, and freedom. She takes on the sins of a mother who was abused herself and lost her battle against drug addiction, of a father who walked away from his family, and the sorrows of a child caught in their wake.  These sins that she did not commit fall on her and her family and their support network almost daily as they all fight for the heart of the wounded child.  Such upheaval and anguish.  It is impossible to know the outcome.  This standing in the gap, it requires so much and it is sometimes poignantly unfair.

And yet Grant and I have been laying down our lives.  Our whole family has.  It isn't always pretty.  It isn't especially rewarding at this point; in fact, it feels an awful lot like defeat.  All we really have is the transient satisfaction of knowing we are responding to a clear and definite calling, that this child who has suffered so much will have a better chance in life because we are holding back some of that suffering right now.  We do not "fix" or heal her (although I confess to hoping for this at times).  We just keep showing up, teaching skills, offering love and acceptance, and refusing to be dragged down by our flaws and failures and the seemingly insurmountable nature of the task. . .and we continue trusting in the One who led us to this child in the first place.
Jesus’ struggle on our behalf was not the result of His weakness, but the outcome of His faithfulness. It was Him willingly choosing the cost of our joy over the price of His pain. His suffering brings meaning to ours. His struggle brings purpose to ours. They remind us that the gospel is nothing if not the ability of Jesus to bring great beauty out of broken things. This gospel frees us from the burden to carry the weight of redemption. It reminds us that only Jesus can save and restore. Our job is simply to be faithful...expectantly, hopefully, anxiously faithful. 
And in your Garden of Gethsemane moments, when the weight of brokenness brings you to your knees before God and your heart cries out for a different path to redemption, you can trust that Jesus has been there before you and that Jesus is there with you now - sympathizing, holding, understanding and encouraging you to drink from the cup again, and again, and again.

Jason Johnson, Reframing Your Season of Struggle 

We have fought hard to be steady and faithful for Allie, but standing in the gap for her right now?  It means letting her go.  Allie has reached a point where she knows in her head, and even in her heart, that we are all a family, but her past won't let her truly understand what that means and her wounds will not let her fully relax into the love we are showing her.  Just being in our home is such a stressful, triggering experience for her right now that she can barely stand it most days, and so she has chosen to be moved to a group home back in her home county about six hours away.  Our mutual desire is to remain connected, to stay as much a family as we can over the distance, but there is . . .distress. . . on all sides of this separation.

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And as I write that, I realize that this pain is a deep answer to prayer, for the pain comes because we have succeeded in opening our hearts to each other.  I prayed when Allie first came that I would be able to love her without holding anything back, without trying to protect myself, and I prayed that she would be able to receive that love.  Though the future is muddled, I can clearly see a thousand answered prayers in the time that we have had Allie in our home.  

So I'm leaning into the realization that we were as faithful as we possibly could be to this calling of loving a hurting child, and that we will continue to do so, whatever it might look like, but always full of hope and trust.

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