Every night (with rare exception) since before we were married, my husband and I have prayed together. It’s a commitment we made early on when we were dating that I believe has contributed profoundly to the success of our marriage for these 25 years and counting.
In those early days our prayers were always about the future: our life together, where God might take us, and especially for our children, that they would all be followers of Christ and seek to use their gifts to help build His kingdom.
As time went on we prayed about all the ups and downs of our lives, the joys and struggles. Thanksgiving for our children and the joy they brought, intercession for their struggles and those of our loved ones near and far. Prayers for our neighborhood kids and the hard realities they faced every day. Prayers for wisdom and guidance in our journey into the Catholic Church.
Recently, almost every night it seems like our prayers begin with, “Thank you, Lord, for hard days.” We are most definitely in the hard days. Day after day, week after week, month after month, this process of transitioning from foster to adoptive family has brought so many surprises, so much joy, but so much heartache and trauma.
Yet, St. Paul tells us:
pray without ceasing,
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
We can’t possibly walk this path without praying, literally, without ceasing.
Why? Because there’s so much you don’t know, you can’t possibly know, and nobody can adequately tell you or prepare you for the way trauma manifests itself in children who have suffered this unspeakable tragedy in being severed from their birth families. And when you commit to love them for however long God sees fit to place them in your care, you are, however unwittingly, committing to taking all that trauma, anger, fear, and profound anguish, upon yourself. Whenever, and in whatever ways it comes out, no matter what: you are bound by love to absorb it and live through it with them every day, all the way through a loss you can barely fathom and onward, by faith, toward healing.
This makes for hard days. Days when you must learn how to respond in love to a child with impulse control issues who screams “I HATE YOU! I HATE GOD!” and slams doors and runs away barefoot, because it’s all too much. Days of comforting a four-year-old who can’t stop wailing in agony every time daddy leaves the house, due to her separation anxiety. Days of rage fits and apologies and hugs and reassurance. Days when, at our house, any or all of these may be happening with up to seven children at once. Days we can’t get through without a whole lot of prayer.
So thank you, Lord, for hard days. And thank you for the way you bless our lives by sprinkling us with liberal reminders of your constant presence. By your grace, keep us clinging to gratitude as we cling to your hand, and help us never to miss the beauty beside this rocky road.