“In difficult moments, I will fix my gaze upon the silent Heart of Jesus stretched on the Cross, and from the exploding flames of His merciful heart, will flow down upon me power and strength to keep fighting.” Saint Faustina
We celebrated the Exultation of the Cross, a few weeks back, a feast day in which we Catholics, commemorate the finding of THE actual Holy Cross in which Jesus was crucified. The Cross, a symbol of salvation, forgiveness, complete selflessness, mercy, and never-ending love. Crucifixes adorn our homes, above entry ways, even several hung across a wall in beautiful art décor. But are we truly adhering to the message THE Cross is asking of us?
I don’t know if I am.
I know there are times when I want to be a better person, kinder, forgive more easily, and to share God’s love with others through my words and actions. Then there are other times I fail miserably by being impatient, cold, frustrated, and even angry. As I walked into my home and sat on the computer to write my reflection for this day, with my stunning Crucifix, hung high above the fireplace in front of me, I wrote a very simple reflection. This isn’t it. I wrote this after I felt an overwhelming inclination on my heart to respond to Jesus’ sacrificial love for me. This is what I wrote instead.
We had little J for just two months. Not gonna lie, the first month kicked this Momma’s butt! The lasting scars of trauma were evident in this pint sized, adorable little boy. Just when we thought we would never see progress, things changed. We began to see a happy side to J. The kind that smiles when you play peek a boo, and dances to music, and sits on your lap to read books. The kind that validates the work in fostering, and its message of healing love. But fostering babies like J is the easy part, in comparison to loving on their biological Momma’s. And even though you know it’s the right thing to do to reach out and be kind and show compassion to them from the get-go, the earthly side of ya, the one battling being kicked and slapped and that has blocks heaved at her face, believes the time isn’t right, and procrastinates in reaching out. Every individual involved in J’s case, forewarned me that contacting J’s Momma would not be welcomed. But on this beautiful morning, as I sat on my computer desk with Jesus crucified on the Cross beaming down on me, I felt the overwhelming urge to take out my notepad and write his Momma a well overdue letter. The contents of the letter do not really matter, what matters is that she is also perfectly made by God. She carried this little boy in her womb for nine months, held him, fed him, and played with him. She’s his Momma, and that’s never going to change. Mistakes happen, and sometimes, these mistakes are so incredibly destructive, kiddos like J are taken from their Momma’s. But if I am the woman that I say that I am, the woman who is a Foster Momma because I believe in Jesus’ power of love and forgiveness, who loves and forgives every member of my own family, who wants her actions to match her heart, then why not her too? Why not her?
As I wrote and unpacked the last two months of the time I had spent with her son, I closed with the message of prayer, and how we are praying for her, and for J to be able to return safely to her one day. I enclosed a black guardian angel Rosary, one fit for a small child to use, and I told her it was from J. I encouraged her to carry it in her pocket, as a reminder of her son, and that when she was working hard and making changes of her own, no matter how difficult or tiring they may be, to remember who she was doing it for and why.
J left shortly after I wrote and sealed the letter. I prayed she would be open to receiving my letter, but prepared myself for it to be returned to me, unopened. When J returned a couple of hours later, the parent aide cried at my doorstep, sharing that my letter was not only welcomed, but that J’s Momma had cried the entire time she was with her son. She had never been talked or spoken to like this before, and even though I did not get the chance to sit beside her and tell her about the wonderful things her son was doing in person, she felt like I was.
No one had ever told her they were praying for her.
No one had ever told her she was good.
No one had ever told her Jesus loved her.
J’s momma cried tears of joy in knowing that my mission wasn’t to keep her son or take him away from her, which so many Mommas in her position do feel. My mission was to cover her in God’s love, a love that heals and restores, a love that conquers through the darkest of times, the love that will lead her back to her son.
Y’all, this is Jesus!
This is the message behind the Cross.
This is foster care.