When I look at our family pictures I see the (mostly) smiling faces of our five children, and I am keenly aware that we almost missed out on some of those smiles.
Three of our children (I’ll let you try to guess which ones and tell you at the end who is who) came into our family after we hosted one of them three Christmases ago and then permanently through adoption, unexpectedly beautiful surprises.
But admittedly, we almost missed the blessing of these precious souls being part of our family.
I remember the first time I saw one of our children’s pictures before hosting.
I remember the life in this child’s eyes shining through the picture, this child’s cautious, gentle smile unfolding across this beautiful one’s face.
And in this moment I saw a story begin to unfold behind the smile. I saw in this sweet child’s eyes hopes and dreams this child surely had. I realized the injustice of this child’s circumstances. I began to see the person beyond the snapshot coming to life before my very eyes.
I’d like to tell you I stayed in this place of awareness, a place I felt very near to the heart of God as I remembered the way Jesus really, truly saw the people he encountered, but soon after seeing this picture my mind began filling with questions:
How could we afford it?
How would bringing other children into our family effect our biological children?
How could I say goodbye to a child after hosting?
How could we parent children we just met?
How could we parent children who had suffered so much loss when we struggled with parenting our biological children?
How would our extended families respond?
As my questions mounted, so did the fear. Fears of not enough and too much all at once.
As the fear washed over me, it blinded me from remembering the preciousness of the children in the photographs.
The fear loudly drowned out their stories, their hopes, their humanity.
Through conversations with several close friends and with guidance from the Holy Spirit and word of God, the veil of fear slowly began to lift when exposed to the truth and love of God.
And the truth and love of God is that each of us is fully seen and fully known by Him.
God is not blinded by fear when he looks at us, and He’s not bound by fear in loving us.
God doesn’t worry that we may be too much or that He may not have enough strength courage or resources to love and care for us.
He saw us in our great need, and He came to us in the flesh of Jesus.
He saw our great need and our vulnerability and our desires, and He came close.
He came close, and He saw us.
Just as He sees the children beyond the photograph. Just as He saw me in my fears. Just as He sees each of us now daily and meets our needs as they come. And our needs come often. He always is faithfully close by.
There is nothing to fear when we are seen, loved and known so we are free to see, know and love.
There is great freedom in being seen because it ensures us that our Heavenly Father doesn’t turn away from us in our need, but draws close instead. This is good news. Really good news. And it frees us to bring good news into other people’s lives, truly seeing them and their need.
How grateful am I that God has reminded me that each of us are precious to Him, that He sees me in my need and frees me to go and meet the needs of those He puts in my path bringing them this same good news.
Like the tween girl in the photograph whose life became real to me when I finally really saw her as a person who also is seen and known by our Heavenly Father.
As a host mom and adoptive mom, I can’t stress enough about how when we start seeing people in all of their needs, their hopes, their dreams and their fears that we will be overwhelmed.
But we will also be seen. Our cries for help will be heard. We have Immanuel– God with us- and He sees and hears us as we call.
There is a danger in living in the blindness of fear — in the fear we dwell in the untruth of bad news that we are not seen, our needs will not be met and we will be forsaken.
When we live in the bad news of fear, it’s then that we forget the children in these pictures are actual living breathing people with names and lives and stories and hopes and dreams; it’s then, too, when we abandon part of our purpose as Christians – to be like the One who sees, to be like the One who never leaves the one behind.
A few months ago I heard a song that broke my heart yet again as I thought of our daughters … the ones who we could have left behind in the shadows of fear.
And it changed me.
I pray it reveals to you your preciousness to God and how we can freely live in the good news of “so will I.”
Because He did it all first.
If you left the grave behind you so will I. // If you gladly chose surrender so will I. // I can see your heart eight billion ways// every precious one a child you died to save// if you gave your life to love them so will I.// Like you would again a hundred billion times.// No measure could amount to your design.// You’re the one who Never leaves the one behind.
(Hillsong: 100 billion ways)