Every night at the dinner table we share our “highs and lows” for the day. My low was a hefty check I wrote to Homeland Security for our adoption. My “high” went right along with the check because it means we are inching closer to meeting our little one.
This led to a conversation about what each of us will do to welcome our newest member when they arrive. Brandon and I are trying to prepare the kids for possible scenarios – particularly related to attachment issues we may face. We try to explain trauma to our children as thoughtfully as possible, but it’s hard for them to understand completely. They’ve had pretty amazing lives so far (and awesome parents, if I do say so myself). Our youngest, has the softest heart. The mere thought of a a child who was abandoned, neglected, or abused, was enough to make her curl up in my arms and bury her face into my chest. She took a deep, empathetic breath. I know just how she feels.
Sometimes the thought can be overwhelming. Particularly, because we can’t help every child.
I lifted my daughter’s head up to look into my eyes and said, “I tell myself something when I start to feel sad about hurting children. Do you know what I tell myself?”
“What, Mommy?” Her glossy eyes looked right into mine.
“I look at one of you kids–I really look at you. I look at your soft skin and your silky hair. I look at your growing bodies and bright smiles, and I say ‘Not this one.'”
“What do you mean?” She asked.
I cupped her cheeks in my hands, “Not this child. This child is fed. This child is growing. This child is strong. This child is loved. Not this one.”
The sadness still comes, my heart still breaks for hurting children, but there is something empowering about driving a stake into the ground of the territory I’ve been given and saying, “Not this one.” The ones I’ve been entrusted with will be well loved. I can’t help all children–I want to, but I can’t. What I can do, is pour all my love into this moment, this child right in front of me. In that moment, my helplessness diminishes and I understand that I possess the most powerful currency: love.
When Mother Teresa received the Nobel Prize, she was asked, “What can we do to promote world peace?” She answered, “Go home and love your family.”
I think, maybe now, I’m starting to understand what she meant.
“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:14