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It’s so hard not to become jealous. You see all of these amazing things happening for your friends – amazing trips, great jobs, new business ventures, shiny new toys, sweet & precious children, nice date nights – and you are extraordinarily happy for them. And then the not so savory thoughts creep in. Why not us? We’re decent people. We do good things. We are intelligent. We seek you, Lord. We follow you, Lord. Through all the muck and mire, we still follow you. And yet here we are. J still doesn’t have a job. I barely have one. Our savings are nearly depleted. We are snippy with each other more often now. I am extremely lonely. We are scared. We have zero direction or purpose. We are exhausted. We are so exhausted. And maybe it’s because I have an infant who actually hates sleep and a toddler who wants to use the bathroom literally everywhere except the toilet. But I think it’s more because for the past 4 New Year’s beginnings, we have found ourselves thinking that the following year has to hold better things for our family because they certainly can’t get any worse. And then they inevitably get worse. And so as I sit here thinking about what the rest of this year could possibly hold for us, I’m lacking a bit of hope about the road ahead. Because the past almost 4 have held more heartache than I honestly care to re-live.

And I’m here trying to reconcile my faith with it all. I see how people look at us with our 4 kids of different colors as we pull out our Medicaid cards in the doctors’ offices. I see how people look at us when we pull out our food stamps card. I hear the tone of voice as people cock their heads to the side and declare their sympathy for us and promise to pray. I see your faces when I declare J still hasn’t found a job. I feel your pity. And it hurts. We used to be respected. Our lives were not supposed to be like this. I said I would follow you anywhere, Jesus. But I absolutely did not mean here. I told you I would adopt a bunch of babies and work as a missionary in another country. I chose how I wanted to die to myself. I told you how I would serve you. This was not it. I have followed you and it has cost me my very life.

We have been in a season in this foster care world where we have not been taking in new kids for a while now. A little over a year to be exact. For various reasons. J lost his job. I got pregnant and really sick. We moved states. And we’ve just kind of been in limbo with where we will land for a long while (I’ve learned better than to presume anywhere will be a permanent dwelling space for us). In these seasons of just focusing on the kids currently under our roof, it’s easy to lose sight of the sheer brokenness and evil we face daily. We truck along and everything is status quo and we forget that it’s still there, right below the surface, just waiting to rear it’s head again.

So you swim along, treading water, but at least still above the enormous sea. And you think your family is doing alright despite it all until suddenly you’re pulled swiftly and forcefully back under the raging waters of brokenness and evil that are always there, even if they appear quiet for a time, when you decide to care for kids from hard places. And suddenly you can’t breathe again. You kick and kick and kick and can’t seem to ever get to the top. The waves crash down on top of you, each one seemingly bigger, fiercer than the last. And you can’t get your bearings. You have lost all sense of direction. You can’t tell which way is up. So then you just fight like hell to hang on.

This world we live in is ugly, friends. I can’t describe it adequately enough for you to realize just how ugly. You see our smiling, filtered faces on social media and just think we’re all ok and we’re such a “neat” family. And sometimes, I believe we are, too. Until we’re absolutely not. I don’t let many people into the dark depths of our world. I’m afraid our family will just be too much for people because honestly, it’s too much for me some days. I want to throw my hands up, wave my tattered, white flag, and call it quits many times. It’s just too much. I didn’t agree to this. I. Want. Out. My heart is utterly broken for my kids. And by them.

They behave in ways that are terrifying and exhausting because they have been deeply, deeply hurt by people that said they loved them. They only know love that is conditional and live in a constant state of fear that they are going to do something that will cause us to leave them, too. So they lash out. They break things. They break us. All in an effort to reject us first. I wish I could describe to you the pain and trepidation in their eyes. And in my own. I wish I could describe to you the tremble in my voice when I declare our love is truly unconditional because some days it’s just not. Some days, I would pack up and run far, far away from it all, if I thought I could truly escape the overwhelming brokenness. But like I’ve said here before, I can’t un-know what I know.

And so we are living in those “some days” once again. They are all too familiar. We’ve been here many times before. But they are never easier. They still feel just as raw as the first ones. And so we keep putting one wobbly foot in front of the other. Clinging to Jesus. Clinging to each other. Clinging to dear friends who have been kind enough to enter these dark places with us and advocate to Father on our behalf when we just can’t anymore. And clinging, ever so tightly, to the sweet promise that Jesus will make all the sad things come untrue one day.