Sometimes, it's supposed to feel awful.
Feast of the Holy Innocents - Today's Readings
Today's feast day doesn't feel like a reason to feast at all. Today we remember the children whose lives were lost at the hands of Herod. We hear the lament of their mothers in the last verse of the Gospel and it certainly doesn't remind us of Christmas.
As a mom, I cannot imagine the pain they must have felt. And honestly, I'm not sure how I'm supposed to write a reflection on remaining joyful during this kind of suffering. The closest thing I've experienced to this kind of loss is returning a child to the custody of children's services. We've had to do this twice. Each time was heart-breaking. I sobbed, I mourned and I questioned why. When we return children, we expect to never see them again or know how they will be taken care of. But we do know they are alive.
In all honestly, I did not remain joyful. At least not for a while. I tried my best to trust God, that this was for the best, but mostly I cried.
When people find out we are foster parents, the most common response I hear is, "Wow. I couldn't give the kids back." I hate this comment, because I certainly don't feel like I can give them up either. But I think it is supposed to feel like that. If it were easy to part from these children, I don't think I'm loving them the way they deserve to be loved. When they're no longer with us, I think my sadness and worry is evidence of how much I loved them. This doesn't help me get through those awful few weeks after they leave. But it keeps me going and keeps me saying "yes" when we receive a call for a new placement.
So, how do I remain joyful in suffering? Well, sometimes I don't. But I know that God is with me in my suffering and it will ease. I know God has a much great plan for everyone's joy, not just mine. At least that keeps me going.