Today I came back from visiting 4 brothers recently adopted out of foster care. Their ages range from elementary school to a junior in high school. They have each been in foster care since birth and the number of fosters care parents they’ve lived with is so high I can’t give you an exact number. It’s incomprehensible. Their past abuse is sickening, and when I look into their eyes I see exhaustion, fragility, and heroic strength. Their hearts are enormous and they are extremely polite and generous. Their new home is safe, but their living conditions are not the best that they deserve, however, to them ……it’s a piece of heaven.
Finally being gifted with adoption they try to heal from the past. This takes enormous amounts of forgiveness and acceptance. It’s a long arduous road. I personally believe we are incapable of complete forgiveness without the Grace of God. Healing from our wounds comes before forgiveness can take place. I recently read this quote by Dr. Sidney B. and Suzanne Simon, “Forgiveness is the gift at the end of the healing process. We find it waiting for us when we reach a point where we stop expecting “them” to pay for what they did or make it up to us in some way.”
It’s amazing the horrible things we do to one another and yet God calls us to heal and to forgive. I met this teenage boy that left an impression of forgiveness on my heart that I will never forget. He was severely abused as a child, diagnoses with so many mental and physical ailments I will spare you of the scientific language. He was placed in an institution praying for someone to adopt him. That incredible adoptive person came to be. When she brought him into his new home and put him into school he became the victim of bullying. One day after school they ganged up on him and severely beat him and he ended up in the hospital with many months of recovery. The miraculous part of the story is that the adoptive mom was furious and wanted restitution and the young boy begged her to forgive instead. He had her take him every morning (as soon as he was able to walk again) to the Church to light a candle and pray for each one. His words to me in explaining his story were, “if they are capable of doing what they did to me, they need my prayers more than I need yours”. His mom told me that she would sit in the pew fuming over the incident and unable to comprehend his generous forgiving heart. It made her realize that God is so much bigger than anything she had ever known and she wanted to know him better. Because of her son’s faith she converted to his faith of Catholicism.
Unforgiveness is painful and damaging to our souls and well- being. It’s like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. Forgiveness most likely will not happen overnight, but with prayer and the Sacrament of Reconciliation it will happen. There are extra Graces in this Sacrament that are extremely beneficial to the healing process. If these children with every reason in the world to struggle with forgiveness can overcome it, why can’t we? This Christmas season is expressive of love, we can so easily receive God’s love and we struggle to give it. Let us gift Jesus by letting go of our grudges and replace it with forgiveness. It will be one of the greatest gifts you have ever given.