Young lives are shaped by the grace that's shown them. They watch how the adults in their lives react towards each other. They learn how they should respond; even when the learned responses are wrong. The thing is adults make mistakes. The problem comes, when those mistakes effect the people around them. For thousands of innocent children, their lives will forever be changed due to the choices made by the very parents that were suppose to love them.
This is the hard reality when it comes to foster care and adoption. In order for a child to be removed from their birthparents, somewhere pain had to happen. Somehow, that child's view of grace was shattered or skewed. They've had to learn how to survive. In some cases, that can result in seeking love from anyone, while in other instances, it means a complete blocking of letting people in.
There is hope. True grace, God's grace, is mightier than sin, it's stronger than any pain. It doesn't erase it, but it covers it; it can make someone new. I've seen it happen. It is amazing. See, true grace can be played out in people.
People can display grace to others.
I saw this in the life of three year old Katie*. Sweet Katie was placed into a foster home. Her mommy and daddy weren't there, and now there were these new people. These people whispered in her ear that she's be safe, that they would be there always. But, even at the young age of three, Katie had already put up walls to protect herself. Those sweet words, were just words, and needed to be backed up with actions. I'm sure she must of had thoughts about if they would still be there if she misbehaved. Would they still say they loved her if she threw her food or wet the bed? Would they rock her to sleep, and hold her gently, or would she have to be so careful and quiet so no physical pain would come to her?
I met Katie at a Foster Parent Night Out, after she was placed in this new foster home. This home that would love her reguardless of her faults. That would teach her, and shower her with grace. That would attempt to break down those walls she had needed to construct, and show her unconditional God's love. Over the months, I watched as this quiet little girl learned to trust. She began to make eye contact; she began to smile.
On our final evening of the year, she was sitting on my lap, with her big brown eyes staring into mine. She grabbed my hand, smiled and just held on. As I looked into her eyes, I realized that I was face-to-face with grace. It had been played out right in front of me:
"And after you have suffered a little while,
the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ,
will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you."
1 Peter 5:10
Restore. Confirm. Strengthen. Establish.
These are the steps that this foster family took. These are the steps that freed this little girl, and prepared her to trust again. These are the steps that transformed her into a different little girl, a little girl who won't stop talking, who smiles and who loves. These are the steps that will now help her to transition from being this family's foster daughter, to someone's adopted daughter.
So thankful for this lesson I learned. I already am thoughtfully practing showing grace to my own children, and look forward to the day that we can shower this same grace and love on the child we adopt.
*Her name was changed to protect her.