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Heartbreak’s Song

Mindful to not attract the attention of my family, I go off to a quiet corner of my house, carefully shut the door—and cry.

This time, my cascade of tears began with a song on social media of a mother singing to her grown child of her heartfelt love, and of her delight in the wonderful person they grew up to be. With joy, she sings of her pride in her child’s life choices and the good life they built for themself. 

With yearning and pain, I cry as she sings, thinking of one of my own adult kids, wishing this was my song for him. Instead, for this child that I love more than life, my song is of heartbreak.  Struggle and crisis have been the defining characteristic of this child’s adult life. He lives on what many would consider the margins of society. Time and again he is preyed upon, time and again he makes hard-to-understand choices that bring another crisis crashing down. Just when I think things have stabilized and he will finally be okay—he isn’t. 

I believed to the very fibre of my being that God told us to say yes.

Life is very hard for my son and has been since his earliest days in utero when substances harmed his brain as it formed. Then, he was born into a life of great disadvantage. Today, as his mother, I am always afraid for him, wondering what will come next. 

This isn’t the adult life that I envisioned, dreamed of, or prayed for on that celebratory day seven years ago when he became my son through adoption. With such joy, I had strung a colourful welcome banner across the front of our house, my heart filled with eagerness, hope, and faith. 

On paper, it hadn’t seemed like the time to adopt another young adult. I’d been having a difficult year, having lost the ability to walk months prior. I was adjusting to using a wheelchair and reconciling all the losses that had happened in my body while learning to live as a visibly disabled person in an ableist society.

But when we’d been asked to welcome this son, on an emergency basis, I believed to the very fibre of my being that God told us to say yes. And so, with faith and joy, we said yes on one day’s notice—and into our home and hearts arrived this precious son.

I’ve learned that our call as Christians to love God and our neighbour is not outcome dependant.

By that point in our adoption journey, my eyes were already open to the challenges that can come for a young person who has known great trauma and loss all their life. I knew the odds were high. But, somehow, I still believed everything would turn out okay for him. If God really told us to adopt this young man, and we proceeded in faith, of course things would be okay…right? No. To believe this was to ascribe to a prosperity gospel. 

Instead, through years of anguish, and many tears, I’ve learned that our call as Christians to love God and our neighbour is not outcome dependant. Sometimes, that means great struggle, pain, or sacrifice will follow, that your heart will break. And this doesn’t just apply to older child adoption or to living with a disability and health issues. This is true and relevant in all spheres of Christian life. We are called to live with love, putting others before ourselves.

In Philippians 2:3-4, Paul teaches us to, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Paul knew well that serving Christ can lead to great pain and suffering

Note, that Paul doesn’t continue these verses with “and then all outcomes will be good, and everything will work out wonderfully with neither trial nor struggle. He doesn’t say “and then your heart will never break.”

Instead, he writes, “…have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:5-8)

Paul knew well that serving Christ can lead to great pain and suffering; in fact, he wrote these verses while in prison “in chains for Christ.” (Philippians 1:13).

But Paul also knew the truth that some things in life are so precious that they are worth all cost, such as advancing the Gospel. 

In the same vein, one of the greatest privileges of our lives is to love those God brings across our paths. Sometimes this will come at a high cost, but there is nothing more precious than loving our neighbour, in good times and hard. It doesn’t mean this mindset of Christ is easy. However, it is the very heart of social justice. 


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