saying no is hard

I was midway thorough my morning coffee.  The dog was barking, the kids were screaming and so were the dishes from my kitchen sink.  Though the day had just begun I was already tired.  My heart wasn’t one full of gratitude for the day.  My phone rang as I threw back another sip of coffee and started to unload the dishwasher.  Without paying attention I just swiped to answer.  On the other end of the phone was our social worker.  They were in search of a home for an 11 year-old boy.  She spoke his name and began to unpack his story.  As I listened on the other end of the phone my heart sank.  I had heard his name.  I had heard his story.  I could feel my face flush red with anger at the unfair hand that life had so cruelly dealt him.  I painfully listened to the why of his foster care story.  I painfully listened to how adults had failed him.  Phone calls like this are so hard.  Once you hear the child’s name and you hear the pain of their short-lived life journey you can’t ignore it anymore.  You can’t just continue on with your day, sipping coffee and putting away dishes.  It radically changes your attitude.  It demands a response.

Though this child fell outside of our “specifications” we have told our social workers that we are always willing to hear and to consider any child.  It would be, in my opinion, limiting the power of the Holy Spirit if we didn’t.  My husband and I talked about the resources we had to love and care for him.  We talked about how we would be able to meet his needs, or not meet his needs.  We talked about our children and if it would be a situation that would enable us to love, care for and meet needs of each child in our home.  We talked about how unjust the world is and how scared and lonely this child must be feeling.  We each spent a few hours reflecting over this child.  Praying for him by name.  We felt somehow attached to him.  Physically and emotionally so much pain on his behalf.  All of us wanted to say yes.  All of us wanted to hug and hold that kiddo close.  To let this sweet child know that he was enough.  That his life is of infinite worth.

We knew however, that our answer was no.  We knew that at this time and in this season we would not be able to fully meet his needs and the needs of the children in our home.  There is this sense of burden and responsibility that comes along with each no.  A sense of guilt and fear of what this child’s future will hold.  Are we being selfish?  Are we hearing the Holy Spirit correctly?  Are we too afraid of being uncomfortable?  Every no is a hard one.  Every no leaves a band-aid over a wound in my heart.

After I hung up the phone the dog barking, kids screaming and dirty dishes no longer held the same significance.  My coffee wasn’t my morning calm and my to-do list no longer seemed important. I sigh a deep breath as I soak in the morning chaos; my heart is discombobulated with feelings of anger for justice and deep sorrow for this child’s pain.  However, I know he cannot be a yes.  It’s a painful no.  One that cuts deep.  One that leaves me feeling like I’ve failed him.  The only source of peace comes from knowing that we serve a sovereign God.  A God who loves this child in his circumstances more than we ever could.  It reminds me that I am not a hero or a savior; that I cannot mend broken pieces.  That the God of the Universe will somehow turn the ugly into beautiful.  That He will make justice roll down like waters.  That though this no is painful and ugly it does not mean that I have failed.  It means that there is another yes to be given.  Another child that we will be able to better serve and meet needs for.  We’ve found that thus far in our journey, the no’s have become just as hard and painful as our yes’s.

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