We were supposed to help a family come to know Jesus. We were supposed to help them overcome the fears and pain of living in this world. It wasn’t that easy.
We thought we had it all figured out. We knew it was going to be a long and brutal road, but we took it on in the spirit of love and ministry. We thought it was what God wanted us to do. For four long months, starting from the day we got the keys to our new house, my husband and I served this family. We adopted this family from a distance and loved them as best we could. We helped them through some of the darkest days and were there as they worked through demons from their past. But cancer changes everything. Dying changes everything.
Sometimes we can work so hard that we become committed to the cause and stop checking to see if we are still making a difference. We commit because we come to love those that we are serving, and we don’t want to let them down. We also don’t want to let God down, even if we have stopped considering what God really wants for the situation. In our case, we became so entangled with this family and their needs that we couldn’t hear God’s voice anymore about what He wanted us to do. We just really felt it was important to keep our feet planted in the relationship and show unconditional love towards them, no matter what the cost.
Our relationship turned brutal quickly. Over and over again, we were told it was better if we just all parted ways. It wasn’t what we wanted and we fought against it. The more we fought to stay, the more hurtful the attacks would be against us. It was stressing us out, and causing issues between my husband and I. It was causing issues when we were trying to spend time with family, or focus on work and school. I prayed constantly about the relationship, praying for God’s will, praying for answers and responses to very difficult questions and situations. In the end, I was pushed so hard that I finally walked away with a broken heart and a strong desire to change my phone number so I would never hear from them again.
I was so terribly hurt having to throw in the towel, and I felt like a failure. I have also felt incredibly guilty because I know there are a lot of reasons why they behaved as they did. Still, I don’t think God wanted me to suffer so much with no end in sight. If He really wanted me to do this, wouldn’t good fruit be plenty? Wouldn’t there be more good times than bad times, and wouldn’t we have succeeded in helping this family know Him?
I see now how much this situation was hurting me and my family. I see now that there must be boundaries between our ministry work and our personal lives, and that we cannot sacrifice ourselves to the point of allowing abuse. I miss them and I still pray for them every day, but I can breathe now. I can focus on my kids again, my husband, and others that need to know Jesus. Maybe our work was in vain, maybe it wasn’t, but we are going to trust that what we started, God will finish. That God can still use us for something else, and maybe… just maybe… this family will still give their lives to Christ.