There are only three days left.
Three very short days.
On the fourth day, I will put Soccer Boy on a plane back to his country, perhaps never to see him again. I pray that I will, but I might not.
And that’s okay. It takes my breath with pain. But it’s okay. Because it’s what I am called to do.
It’s what we are all called to do, really.
I think that the most frequent comment I have gotten from others before and during hosting is, “You are so strong. I could never love and give like you are and then just send him home.”
The people we love are ingrained in the very atoms of our being. And we like to live in the safety and the comfort of togetherness. We are people meant for communion, for connection. We create relationships and when we love unconditionally, we want that love to go on and on. We want to gather those we love close to us and never, ever let go.
But we live in a broken world. And there is death, and pain, and destruction, and distance, and sorrow.
Parents bury their babies. Husbands lose their wives. Children wipe their father’s brow as he breathes his last breath.
This pain is universal, even if the circumstances are specific. Every time we love we risk it. We do it every day. We send our children off to school, believing they will come home. We walk through a parking lot with our toddler and don’t think that they will be hit by a car. We say farewell to our loved ones at the airport, assuming that there are no terrorists on the plane. We carry children in our wombs, never thinking that they may already have a broken body.
But sometimes there are school shootings. An errant, distracted driver. A terrorist. A birth defect. Cancer.
And our lives are undone.
And there is pain in separation, too. Couples divorce. Mothers see their children off to basic training. Daughters decide to live abroad. Friends move across the country to start a new career.
But wouldn’t we all do it again? Wouldn’t we still have that baby with the broken body, love that mother who left too soon, marry that man who fought a courageous battle with cancer?
Do we wish it could have been different? Of course. But would we have chosen to not love if it meant not having that person in the first place? Never.
Maybe we would have treasured it more. Maybe we would have hugged them one more time. Maybe we would have done things differently.
And it is in these things that we wrestle with eternity. We ask the hard questions. We weep over the pain of living in a broken world.
But we don’t stop living. We don’t stop loving.
When we haven’t experienced these things, or the pain from them dulls a bit, we like to delude ourselves into creating an eternity here on earth. We like comfort, and we like ease.
But we will never find it here. It’s an illusion.
I have lived a broken life. I, too, fall into the trap of comfort and ease at times, and it seems simpler to just eat, drink, and be merry. Sometimes I feel like I deserve it—I just want to catch a break. Sometimes I feel that pain of the broken, and the possibility of imminent destruction of my loved ones, and I get angry. Sometimes I just want it to be easy. Sometimes I want to be among the not-experienced and pretend like the world isn’t broken.
But I am broken. And so is the world.
It’s not about pretending everything is fine and making my world as comfortable as I can. It’s about making sure that others know that this broken is not all there is.
It’s about unconditional love.
I’ve been given it, and I can horde it and make myself a little illusion with it. Or I can share it. It means my heart will hurt. It means a piece of me will fly away in three days and maybe never return.
But I will have loved. And I will have changed. And I will have known someone who made my world brighter.
If there is an eternity, then I don’t really need to be comfortable now.
But I do need to love.
I’m no stronger for loving than any of the rest of you. I know that hosting seems strange and difficult to you because I’m choosing to love someone with everything I have and then letting them go without the promise of a happy ending.
But isn’t that what we all do?
It’s just that I get the blessing of knowing. Knowing that I have to let go. Knowing that my last hug before he leaves might be my last forever. I’ve lived in that blessing for years now with Little Man, and I know that living there makes each day more precious, makes each moment matter.
And I have done my best and loved my hardest and given my all. I’ve become a better mother. A better person. This has expanded my soul. I have been given more grace and been more richly blessed than I ever thought possible.
And I have been given more family than I expected—wait until I tell you. Love multiplies into more love and the burden can be carried together.
But right now, my heart is hurting as the tendrils of connection begin to stretch across an ocean. And they may be stretched away from me for the rest of my days.
But loving in a broken world is what we are called to do. And the unconditional love that was given to us is meant to be stretched out to others, no matter how far away they fly.
Those ties, they sometimes stretch beyond what we thought was bearable, but they will never break.
And I don’t regret it.
And I’m going to do it again.
But I think I’m going to have a good cry over this one first.