“Break my heart for what breaks yours…”
Those are a few lyrics from the song Hosanna, by Hillsong United. It’s a song I hear (and sing) at Mass somewhat regularly, and those lyrics came to mind repeatedly today as I spent more than two hours with members of my team consulting on a very complicated foster care case. It’s something I’ve done quite literally hundreds of times since I began working professionally with youth in foster care almost exactly 30 years ago. At this point, I am essentially “unshockable.” I have seen, heard, and read about everything imaginable in my three decades in the field. This case was nothing “new” in that regard; it was painful and tragic. There are no clear “bad guys” and no obvious or easy solutions. Nonetheless, what the family has been through, most especially the kids, broke my heart. Even now in thinking about it, I have to work deliberately to avoid tearing up, and I thank God for that. I thank God for the blessing of having my heart broken for those who suffer. I thank God for having had my heart broken so many times in my calling to accompany abused, neglected, hurting children and their families through indescribably painful times. I thank God for leading me to this ministry and for giving me the opportunity to work with such skilled and dedicated professionals.
As I often say, this work is like walking a tightrope. If we become too immersed in the pain and suffering we see, we become overwhelmed and cannot be effective. Likewise, if we shy away from that pain and suffering, we can become calloused and distant—-and equally unable to help. As such, this work is a constant balancing act, but it is precisely a willingness to have our hearts broken open for the sake of others that offers not merely the opportunity to help and heal, but also the opportunity to be the face of Jesus for others and to see His face in them.
Thank you Lord for breaking my heart today.