I think it’s safe to say that when you see pictures of beautiful, black orphaned children, your heart wants to break in half. It’s like an irresistible reaction for most people. You just can’t help but love these faces peering back at you with these big, inviting eyes.
But pictures are pictures. They stay still. They obey. They don’t cry. They don’t throw fits. They don’t tax every bit of emotional fiber in you. They don’t need you.
The child behind the picture doesn’t stay so still and well behaved. She throws fits in church and steals from you and repeats the same question to you over and over and over and over and over again. She asks you questions that break your heart and that you don’t even begin to know the answers to. She needs you even when you don’t think you have anything left to give anyone.
Yes, it’s easy to love the child in the picture. It’s so much harder to love the real thing. The living, breathing, talking, thinking person that’s right before you.
Sometimes I honestly think to myself, “Meagan, there are people that would give anything to be in your shoes. Enjoy it. Love it. Love her.”
Of the hundreds of children we’ve had come and go through the Haven, Carol is hands down the hardest one for me to love. And I couldn’t tell you why. She’s precious and charming and so, so smart. But she is so needy that she sucks me completely dry.
I have to remind myself that she’s seven years old and responsible for nothing of what’s happened in her life. That she’s had so little stability in her life. That she spent her first 4 months of life in a hospital bed all alone, abandoned and looked after by a rotating shift of nurses. That she’s a little girl who just desperately wants to be special to someone.
For most of these kids, loving them comes easily and naturally. But I have to choose to love Carol. I have to force myself to sit down and read a book or color a picture with her. I have to force myself to grab her little hand as we walk over to check on the little ones.
There’s a lot of guilt that comes when loving someone doesn’t come easily. And tonight, the guilt is hitting me hard.
Carol went home today, back with an aunt we never knew she had the first 7 years of her life. She went home, and I’ve now lost my chances to choose to love her.
She’s gone, and I wish I’d chosen love more often.
Praise the Lord that His love is so much greater than mine, that even my feeble attempts at loving these kids well pale in comparison to the lavish riches of love He’s already pouring on them. And praise Him I have 80 more chances to love as well as I can again tomorrow.
“A thousand times I’ve failed, still your mercy remains.
Should I stumble again, still I’m caught in your grace.”