My child is breaking my heart: A meditation on God's love

 Foster parenting. Adoption. Loss of a child. When being a parent breaks your heart.Is your child breaking your heart? Is your son’s or daughter’s illness breaking your heart?
Are you considering becoming a foster parent, but worried that it might break your heart?
Are you pregnant and considering adoption and worried that it will break your heart?

Last month I spoke to a mom who had fostered and adopted children. I expressed that fostering to adopt would be a difficult calling. What if the foster parents had to give up the child they’d become attached to? Wouldn’t it cause unbearable heartache?

The mom replied: “Everyone tells you to guard your heart, but you can’t. Your heart WILL be broken. But every child you care for deserves your broken heart. All children deserve someone to love them enough to suffer for them.”  

Loving anybody is a risk.

Loving any child comes with risk--the risk of loss, of sickness or hurt, of watching the child make poor choices. Your heart WILL be broken. But human dignity deserves a steadfast love that rejoices when the child becomes all he or she can be, and sorrows when things don’t turn out the way we think they should have. Each child (no matter how small or how young) is worth a big love that is vulnerable and willing to suffer.

God intends for every child to be loved in this deep way. Our hearts should ache for anyone who has not felt that deep, heart-rending love. It is the nearest anyone can get to understanding the astounding depth of God’s love for you and me.

I think of Christ’s lament: “Jerusalem, often I would have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you would not!” (Matthew 23:37)

Christ's Sacred Heart was broken for us.

Christ reveals His heart’s longing: to love, protect and save His people. His heart burns for them, yearning for them to live in communion with Him. His heart is broken over their destructive ways, over our destructive ways. He cries when Lazarus dies, not for Lazarus’ sake (after all, Christ knew He would raise Lazarus), but for the sorrow and the pain experienced by Lazarus’ grieving family. (John 11:33-35)

Jesus spent the majority of His public life ministering to the grieving, healing the sick and casting out demons. Even now in our lives, Christ invests Himself wholeheartedly in our happiness. Besides having made us to begin with, He shows over and over how He feels our suffering in Himself, at the same time that He heals and loves. Most importantly, He died for us in His love. His heart broke for us.

Find the beauty in sacrificial love.

This love of the heart willing to be broken is so beautiful. Beautiful to experience, beautiful in its imitation of Christ, and beautiful in the healing and resurrection that will come from the suffering. Thank you, Lord, for loving us, Your adopted children. Thank you for letting Your heart be broken for us.

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him....Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us...In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love.
1 John 4:9-18).

Rebecca O’Loughlin is a Byzantine Catholic mother with 5 children (newborn to tween). She enjoys running her shop (Brushes2Halos), writing, and adventuring with her children--whether on a flight with their airplane pilot dad, or through the pages of Narnia.

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