Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Catch & Release

I had the blessing and privilege of growing up with a father who loved the outdoors. Yes, maybe he was even obsessed at times, but nonetheless, his enthusiasm and respect for nature and wildlife has become a very real part of who I am. For that I am very thankful!

This also meant that I spent a lot of time in the rivers, creeks and streams of the Smoky Mountains....I know, torture huh? We loved to go trout fishing or seining for bait....the latter was my favorite since I become easily impatient and you're guaranteed to catch SOMETHING this way! One of the first lessons in fishing, beyond mastering "the worm on the hook" of course, is catch and release. There are many reasons to catch and release.....the fish is small and needs to grow, you are near the days quota or you are simply fishing for leisure that day. But me, being the instant bond to anything breathing (and sometimes even the non-breathing!) type sometimes had a hard time with this.

The catch part was always FUN! There are few things as super exciting as F.I.N.A.L.L.Y feeling that gentle tug on your line that you have been waiting for. The "I've got one!" "I've got one!" immediately runs over you and almost instinctively allows the jerk that sets the hook. Then you reel and tug and fight with all you have to bring the catch to shore, closer and closer to you until you've got it! Then you pause in your excitement to admire your tangible success before facing the inevitable.

When it was finally time for the release part, I can remember gently but securely holding the fish as I placed it back into the water. I would slowly loosen my grasp allowing it to slide through my fingers before finally swimming  free. Then, I would stand and watch it until it was completely out of sight, often with the thought that I would never see that fish again for the rest of my life, running through my mind. There was always a slight bit of sadness with the release along with a rush of excitement about the next catch. I suppose this is a perfect image of the ebb and flow of life in general. Especially in the place I find myself at right now.

Being pretty solidly rooted in the first foster placements in our home, I find myself somewhere in the middle of the reeling in part. We have experienced that gentle tug that led us straight into one of the greatest fights of our lives. We have reeled and tugged and struggled to bring these precious children closer and closer to us. To get to know them and meet their needs. To serve them and even their family which has created a fight within us that I'm convinced there was no possible way to be prepared for. We have certainly given it our all and have experience the hopeless dark moments fluidly mixed with the triumphant victories that come packaged in the most simple and unusual ways. I wouldn't say we have reached the point of tangible success, but I feel my heart preparing for the release.

The release, like always, is something that brings yet another chaotic mix of emotions. While there have been times throughout this placement where I've been almost completely certain that we were making absolutely no positive impact AT ALL......I can see it now. I can see how consistency and love....even when I didn't want to.....are now paying off. I can see how the impossibility of trust is now something that is being relied on by our lil' friend. I can see in his face that he believes us and that while he may not fully understand us or our ways, that in some way, he knows we really do mean what we say and that we really do care for him. I can see at moments that he has decided that we really aren't all that bad after all. :) With his acceptance comes his own outreach of unprompted affection.....this is something that is precious and beautiful, but something that makes the release even more bittersweet.

I imagine the process that the months ahead hold for us will continue to be a roller coaster of the unexpected. And I don't for a minute know how to explain it all where it will make sense, even for myself, but I feel it. I feel the strange preparations beginning within me. The need to make sure they are equipped and ready for what they will face....although there really is no way I can do this. I feel the ache beginning to squeeze at my heart and the lump filling my throat with the images of  the day we say goodbye floating about in my head. I feel the spot within me that has become theirs not knowing what to do with the thought that I may never see them again for the rest of my life. But amidst it all there resides a peace and certainty. A peace straight from the most compassionate heart of God I am certain. A peace that He's got it all. That He knows the whole story and that when my part is done, He will still be there.
I'm not pretending this is easy. It isn't. In any way. But it is good. And while there are very few days that go by without my questioning it, it is His will, and I am forever grateful for the grace that allows me to be a part.

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