Virtually every person I know in this field has expressed something similar. Fellow adoptive and foster parents. Nonprofit leaders. Social workers. Church ministry leads. Dedicated mentors.
“It’s beautiful. And it’s really, really hard.”
Each story is different. But whenever we come near to our world’s hurt, we will share in its pain.
Whenever we come near to our world’s hurt, we will share in its pain.
It’s been that way for me and my family for sure. Nearly all our experiences in this realm – from international adoption, to local foster care, to leading a ministry – each have brought some of the most difficult moments of our lives. The death of a child we’d come to dearly love. Endless nights of broken sleep. Aching to watch a teen mother fall back into addiction. Exasperating government systems. Friction and strain in marriage.
But those hard things aren’t the whole story, either. Not by a long shot.
Alongside them came many of the sweetest moments of our lives as well. Feeling God’s embrace as our church community wrapped around us in grief. Unexpected aid from people we hardly knew. Playing with the wee toes of a newborn during nighttime bottle feedings. Unparalleled friendships forged in adversity. Seeing our older children grow as they join in serving. The matchless thrill of seeing stunted lives beginning to blossom.
Somehow, this realm brings together the world at its worst and the world at its best.
So opening ourselves to all this really comes down to deciding what we want most from life. If it is comfort or stability or control, we’d best head in the opposite direction. But if what we want – what we really want deep down despite our fears and misgivings – is life to the full, both the really good and the really hard together…well, I suspect there may not be a better place to find it.
That’s what the Apostle Paul wanted. Both the really good and the really hard. It wasn’t that he liked getting shipwrecked and beaten and that kind of thing. It was that he knew he couldn’t hold one without the other. So, he said, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his suffering.” He knew they came only together.
“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his suffering.”
That is why the theme of CAFO2019 is, “In Brokenness & Beauty … It is Well.”
This reality will be woven throughout our whole time together in Louisville, from the speakers and worship…to deep-dive workshops…to coffee shop conversations. Alongside the learning and knowledge, we’ll explore together how joy and heartbreak, hope and sorrow come intertwined. We’ll name the truth that when we open our lives to hurting children, we experience both the delight of participating in God’s restoration…and “the fellowship of sharing in His suffering.”
And amidst it all, we’ll remember how we can still say, “It is well with my soul.”
Because this is the life we do most desire, despite its costliness. Because our Savior embraced it too, on our behalf. And, most of all, because even in the darkest moments, we know that the powerful hands of our loving Father are beneath and above and all around us.
“In Brokenness & Beauty … It is Well.”