I finally put a package of tissues in my purse because I kept finding myself with a dripping nose and rivulets leaking from my eyes with nothing to catch the stream. I used the last of the package on Easter morning during the sermon, after I had used the second-to-last in the car on the way to church. And I couldn’t keep blaming allergies.
“It’s like you’re pregnant,” said John, as I reached for the Kleenex box at our kitchen table a few hours later over a cup of coffee with my love.
“It IS like I’m pregnant,” I wept.
Only I’m not pregnant, I’m just expecting. John and I are in the process of becoming licensed foster parents and there is a beating heart out there that will likely join our family within the next nine months.
When I carried my own two children in my body, I imagined their faces and their personalities. Now I am wondering what this new child will be like. Unlike my two pregnancies, I am also wondering how many days we will get to shelter and love this child.
There will be no ultrasound, no quickening. Labor pains will begin with a phone call with the basic stats of gender and birthdate and maybe some additional information. My water and heart will break, I am most sure, and I’ll reach for the box of tissues.
When I was pregnant, I prayed for my daughter and son’s health and development and safety. But really, the odds were enormously good that my babies would be just fine, and they were.
I am praying again. Only this time I am 100% guaranteed that this next child is not fine. The fact that the child will be with us at all means that his or her health, development, and safety are threatened – perhaps this very moment, even, which is terrifying in my expectant state.
So, I pray. I pray for this child’s mama and daddy. For an aunt or uncle or grandparent or neighbor to love and protect this child as best as they possibly can. I pray that addictions may be lessened, that doors will stay closed, that harmful words, images and actions will be quelled. That the child will know love, even if imperfectly.
And I cry. I hear a song, read a story, watch a video, and the dam bursts again. During Passion Week, I understand the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection with fresh ears and heart. The Friday abandonment of his Papa, the Saturday carrying of all the sin and ugliness of the world – sin that usually (and deceptively) looks pretty sterile in my comfortable bubble, but rears ugly and gut-wrenching in the world of foster care. The women waiting outside the tomb – mama hearts breaking from the injustice applied to the guiltless Son.
And finally, Sunday’s Resurrection. The snake crushed, life restored, hope eternal. Jesus, our brother; adoption as sons and daughters of the King. The Gospel is good, good news to a broken world. Jesus saved us in our brokenness and sends us out to find the broken. Jesus brought us back into relationship with our Father so we could be restorers of relationships.
And so we find what is broken, and offer our life and that which is most precious – our family, to mend and restore.
We are expecting, and we wait and wonder. With heavier hearts this time around, but with the same cloud of support (and then some) who buoyed us up when Ellie and Jack were born. Our parents, grandparents, siblings, aunties, uncles, cousins, and friends, who are cheering for us, praying for us, and ready to love a new child, perhaps even more fiercely, because of what came before and what is at stake.
We anticipate both pain and joy – but isn’t that always the case with an expectant mother?
…Teach us how to weep while we wait,
and how to hope while we weep,
and how to care while we hope.
– Walter Brueggemann