Reading more fiction this summer, I found a random book to listen to while caulking trim. As I listened, a description of vulnerable children and of those who stick with them jumped out to me in big bold letters. I immediately paused the audio book to write the quote with fingers caked in white caulk.
From The Book Thief by Mark Zusak, we join the story of a little foster girl and the foster dad who came to her side every night in the middle of her nightmares.
Trust was accumulated quickly, due primarily to the brute strength of the man’s gentleness, his thereness. The girl knew from the outset that Hans Hubermann would always appear midscream, and he would not leave.
* * * A DEFINITION NOT FOUND IN THE DICTIONARY * * *
Not leaving: an act of trust and love, often deciphered by children
This imagery brings a chill to my spine. How accurately the author describes our children from hard places–they need people who will be there, constantly appearing midscream, night after night. These children need the brute strength of gentleness. They need someone who will not leave. Children (especially children with trauma) have an intuition for this kind of stay-with-you-no-matter-what kind of commitment.
How fitting that as parents of all kinds of children–foster, adoptive, and biological–we mirror the not leaving character of our Heavenly Father as we stick with our children. Our God is a not leaving kind of God. And therefore we are a not leaving kind of people.
It is true that if left to myself, it would sometimes (often!) be easier and more comfortable just to leave, hide, run. But the God Who never leaves gives me strength and courage to be a never leaving kind of mom. Truly, it is only by His grace! “All the persons of faith I know are sinners, doubters, uneven performers. We are secure not because we are sure of ourselves but because we trust that God is sure of us” (Eugene H. Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction).
So may the God Who is sure of us make us parents our children can be sure of. The not leaving kind of parent, who trusts and loves and sticks close, by God’s grace alone.