I wanted to hold her in contempt, secretly inside my heart. Suddenly, I was responsible for her beautiful child’s full-time care, and as I looked at him, all I could think was, Who could wrong a precious child in such a way? And as I was caring for him and trying to comfort him in his sleepless nights, amid an abundance of night terrors, I wanted someone to blame. The blame fell on her.
This child wasn’t able to speak more than a handful of words, hadn’t been exposed to enough sunlight, and couldn’t walk well from always being pinned in. All he knew was darkness, small spaces, and neglect. Now I had the task of caring for him and helping him heal. It was probably the hardest job I had ever undertaken.
I was a Christian, so I knew I could not withold forgiveness from his mother. But I held my deep grudge anyway. No one could see this hidden contempt. Yet God sees all things. And God had a plan to start working the anger and bitterness out of my heart. He had a greater plan for healing. When the Holy Spirit indwells us, he never leaves us the same.
I Am a Mess Too
Our job was simple: care for this child while his birth parents got their life back in order. As we entered the mess of their lives, more things came to light that made me harbor an even deeper bitterness. Yet God was also showing me the deep mess in my own heart. We are all messy, sinful in different ways. We are all desperate for a Savior.
I was not better than this child’s mother; I had only received grace that prevented me from making the same choices. Only grace kept me from falling into the same lifestyle. I had my own sin that God was uprooting from the depths of my heart. But we serve a God who takes hearts of stone and makes them into hearts of flesh (Ezek. 36:26), a God who searches hearts and makes them clean (Ps. 51:10). As we behold him, he changes us more and more into his image (2 Cor. 3:18). Our God is the redeemer and healer.
There are children who do not learn to trust, children who fail to learn the basic skill of attachment because those who were meant to be trusted are found wanting. This child struggled to attach to anyone. He resisted it with force. Rejection is a scary thing, and this little guy knew its pain. When we encounter those who resist love, we must continue to pursue in the example of Christ, the ultimate pursuer of the broken. He pursued to the point of laying down his life so we could be secure.
God’s Agents of Change
We are reluctant to leave our mess when it is all we know. Only when a greater enticement comes along will we be moved to change. I was trying to force this child to attach. I knew it was painful for him. As I held him close to my chest, I would stroke his cheek and speak Scripture and words of comfort to him. He would thrash. He would not make eye contact. Over time, he began to relax in my arms. He came to cherish this time. Watching this healing take place was a sweet miracle. It was painful for both of us, but those who have been rejected need to know that someone will enter into the mess and love us stubbornly to bring healing. God uses his people as agents of change to show that he is the ultimate source of trust and security.
This is what happened with us and our son’s birth parents; that contempt I felt early in the process started to slowly dissipate. As we kept our eyes on Jesus and remembered what he had already done on our behalf, we were able to forgive. Through this process, my contempt actually grew into real love. We have a mutual goal together, a desire to see a young man grow into who God would have him be.
In this process, I learned that many are different from me but no one is ever beneath me. Despite a person’s circumstances, God, the healer of broken, sinful hearts, can redeem anyone he chooses. He is the pursuer and lover who continually pours out his grace. We can follow his example to do the same because his kindness brings forth repentance, not shame or intimidation (Rom. 2:4). You never know what that stubborn love will do. After all, love never fails (1 Cor. 13:8).
One day when Christ’s kingdom comes in all its fullness the Savior will clean up all our relational messes. So in the meantime love stubbornly as you remember what Christ did for you. God can redeem those seemingly hopeless situations for his glory.
We have an open adoption in which we work together with the birth parents of this child created in the image of God. Forgiveness has taken root. Love has replaced contempt. Competition and jealousy have ceased because of the blood of Christ. Do we struggle in these areas at times? Of course we do, but the overall pattern of behavior is a beautiful testimony to his grace. We are thankful, and we pray the life of one little boy is better for that environment of love and grace.