On Friday, I attended my first Foster Mommy Support Group, at a nearby church. I was reluctant to attend, for several reasons. Mainly because Baby Berry (who was with us for eight months) was reunified with her Bio-family, a few days prior. Although I’m beyond grateful that we keep in touch, I learned that she was having a difficult time with the transition. It brought back extremely painful memories of witnessing Banana’s transition (after two years with us).
I guess you can say I’m still dealing with anger, confusion, and pain. I was afraid that I would not be at my best at this meeting. (I know. Silly. Especially when it is a support group of women who can relate, more than anyone.)
I’m so glad that I went, and grateful that I found this group. (Actually, the group found me.) It was so refreshing to commune with so many like-minded women, who understand the pain and the sacrifice of being a foster mommy. I not only so desperately needed the validation that it was ok to be struggling with anger and resentment. I also needed the encouragement in listening to so many women sharing the happy foster-mommy stories.
So far, my foster-mommy story is not a very happy story.
My heart has been broken like never before. I’ve been through broken relationships, a divorce, job loss, and health issues that literally knocked me off my feet. Yet I had NEVER experienced heart ache like I had in losing a child.
There I said it. I lost a child.
When you’re a foster mommy, you feel like you cannot say that. Because some say, it was never your child to begin with. But, Banana needed a mommy. Especially after the first six or seven months. She believed I was her mommy. I was with her practically every minute of every day. So, I became her mommy and she became my precious little girl. Oh, how I loved her. Words cannot express the amount of love I had for this baby girl. And, now she’s gone.
The pain is just as bad as it was five months ago. I have no contact with her bio-family. They did not want to work together in helping her with the transition, and that caused me great suffering. They didn’t have to experience what I had to witness. I had to comfort Banana going through trauma, while choking down the lump in my throat. Day in and day out. For her sake, I held it together. I had to take her to countless doctors in trying to help her little body from breaking. Scott and I put every resource we had in advocating for Baby Banana. We were literally at war with giants. Foster children have no voice, and we were silenced, toyed with, patronized, and belittled. In the end, they took her without telling us she would never return.
I know how happy and healthy she was. I saw her with her bio family, and she was so different. Subdued. Compliant. Confused. There was one occasion that we were together, at a doctor’s appointment. This was at the very end, when Banana was realizing that our time was coming to an end. At one point, she carefully made her way over to me, wrapped her tiny arms around me, and wept. Nobody seemed to care. Then, upon returning her to her bio family she began screaming crying. Reaching out for me. Mommy! Mommy! MOMMY?? And, I had to turn my back on her. Do you know how that felt to her? Therefore, to me?
With a love like this – It will B-R-E-A-K you.
I don’t want to stay in this brokenness, forever. I’m learning that there is beauty in brokenness. Benefits to being broken. There is a reason why God allows us to go through such grief. In losing a loved one. Your parent. Your child. Your spouse. Losing your health to a deadly disease. Losing your marriage. Losing your livelihood. Your career. But, have you ever sought out the benefits in what you’ve been through?
Friend, there are many benefits to brokenness. I promise you this. I’m finding them along the way. Like hidden treasures down a dark path. There is a light at the end. When I get there, I’ll not only experience the joy in the light. I’ll have a bunch of treasures to share.
I recently learned about a woman who was a parental guardian of 2 beautiful children. She and her husband raised them for four years with the goal of adopting them. But, before she knew it, the state (DCPP) got involved and as they are relentlessly committed to do (I’ve learned just how relentless they can be), they reunified those children with their bio-family. This woman lost two children after four years. I lost one child, after two years. Jesus. Why?
I want to remind you the entire message of my blog is this: We can choose to live an extraordinary life. No matter what our circumstances look like. What’s interesting is that when I began blogging, I thought my worst circumstances were behind me. Nope. But, they prepared me for the greatest blow of my adult life. And, this brings me to some of the benefits of brokenness…
ONE – Brokenness will prepare you for more brokenness.
I kinda hate to admit this, but it’s true. You learn how to deal with brokenness. How to move on. I just lost Baby Berry. After eight months. At the foster support group, some women were traumatized after losing a foster child they had for just a few weeks. My heart went out to these women. But, I realized that saying goodbye to Berry, even after eight months, was like a walk in the park to me compared to what I went through with Banana. (Ok, and her situation was entirely different.) Trust me, your brokenness is strengthening you.
As my dear friend, Katie, explained to me… We’ve all heard the phrase, “Beauty from Ashes”, yet most of us fail to comprehend its meaning. I always understood it to mean that there is beauty in brokenness. But, Katie reminded me what is required before becoming ashes. Ashes only come from fire. A fire is the only thing capable of incinerating something. Allow this to soak in. God allows us to be incinerated so that He can do His best work in us. Because such beauty comes from ashes.
TWO – Brokeness will bring you to a new position.
How many times do you hear of those who start foundations to raise money or help others immediately following a traumatic scenario. Someone loses a loved one to cancer. So, she starts a foundation and becomes an even more influential individual. Someone I know lost her baby girl about a year ago. It devastated me, as I had Banana at the time for a little over a year, and I begged God that I would never feel her pain. (Perhaps this was selfish of me.) But, I have been following along this extraordinary woman’s journey. She began a foundation to help parents grieving over the loss of a loved one. Who knows. Maybe that’s where God is leading me. Supporting foster parents who lose a foster baby.
I’m waiting to see what God is doing. I encourage you to do the same. He has something big planned. Please believe that.
THREE – Brokenness will make you more vulnerable. VULNERABILITY is the key to LOVE.
I was such a hot headed young adult. I had been through a lot and rather than choosing the extraordinary, I built up walls around my heart. It took two devastating experiences (almost losing Scott and losing Banana) before I made the best decision in my life. I allowed myself to become vulnerable. I had to break down the walls I had built around my heart. It was a choice that I made that saved my marriage and allowed me to experience what real love is like. Throughout every relationship in my adult life, never before did I know how to love or how to receive love.
There may be walls around your heart that were there before your heartache. Rather than put up more walls, I dare you to become vulnerable. Open up to someone you love. Pray that God will change you and humble you. It’s not as scary as it sounds. You’ve already been through hell, so what have you to lose?
FOUR – Brokenness will bring you greater joy.
I recently read something so interesting. When you experience great sorrow, the distance from that sorrow to JOY that is available to you upon making a choice is GREATER than joy experienced by someone who’s never experienced such sorrow. In other words, your joy will be greater. I know it may not feel that way, at times. (I felt furthest away from joy, last week.) But, when you choose to live an extraordinary, joyful life, it will be better appreciated. Don’t give up finding that joy. It lies somewhere ahead.
FIVE – Brokenness can grant you God’s greatest blessings
I’m not going to deny this. I’ve been angry with God. I’ve questioned him like never before. Sure, I still have my faith. I know who HE is, what He has done for me, and what my eternity will look like. But, let’s just say, I wrestle with feelings that God has let me down. My prayers, for a while there, have been like this…
“Lord, I love you. But, I’m mad at you. I know who you are and I KNOW that your plan for me is perfect. BUT, I’m still mad at you. Your word says that you’ll never give us more than we can handle. SERIOUSLY? Your word says that you give us the desires of our hearts. Umm. I don’t think so. Your word says that you are near the brokenhearted. Well, I don’t feel anything right now. You’re just going to have to give me time.”
Recently, I decided to change my prayers a little bit. They go something like this, now…
“Lord. I love you. I’m still kinda mad at you. I still have doubts that go through my mind, but deep down inside I KNOW YOUR WORD IS TRUTH. It just does’t ‘feel’ that way. You know me better than I know myself and you know my future, which is supposedly prosperous and hopeful. I believe your promise to work all things together for good. So, I’m going to choose to wait on that. I trust you even though I am afraid of getting hurt, again. Perhaps you can send me some blessings so that I can be reminded that you really do love me and have my best interest at heart.”
I have witnessed some incredible blessings after my latest (and greatest) heartache. I believe I met a few angels. I believe Baby Blue is special and his situation was orchestrated around my brokenness. I believe I have more people praying for me than ever (therefore giving me the strength I am typically complimented for). And, I think God is only beginning.
My greatest blessing is still to come. Sometimes, I wish God would bring back Baby Banana. But, God’s ways are so above and beyond my ways that He’s going to bless me beyond my wildest imagination. I just have to trust him and hope for that.
Friends, I don’t know where you are, today – On this spectrum of brokenness. But, if you are anywhere close to what I’ve shared, please take it from me. There are benefits to your brokenness. You can either build walls or choose the extraordinary.
IF you were recently broken, don’t look back. Look ahead. There is hope to your future.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
You may be afraid to take the risk of vulnerability. You may be afraid to put your trust in your creator. You may be angry. Or lost. But, what have you to lose?
I’m praying that you choose to live an extraordinary life no matter what you’ve been through. Will you do that with me? God bless you.