On being forgotten

About five years ago, my parents and brother and sister-in-law took in some kids from their church at the time in an emergency foster care situation. The two older kids, about 7 and 9, stayed with my parents, while the younger kids, 5 and 3, stayed with Jason and Amber. An older teen daughter lived with the pastor’s family and a woman from another town just south of my hometown took in the baby, who was just a few months old at the time.

The kids stayed with my family for about three months. They were there for the start of school, my birthday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas—so I got to hang out with them a lot, too.

One of the little girls, we’ll call her Katie, the 5-year-old, stole my heart. When we went to family gatherings, church, anywhere, she crawled all over me. We were good friends, and I loved that little girl. But after about 3 months, they were put in longer term foster care, and eventually returned to the home. Since then, they’ve moved a lot, sometimes living in motels and sometimes in houses.

About two weeks ago, their dad passed away after a short battle with cancer. And on the Monday before Thanksgiving, I went with my parents to the funeral. We chatted with the kids, especially Daniel, who had lived with my parents all those years ago. And I saw “Katie,” and it was like a kick in the stomach to realize she didn’t remember me. At all.

I looked into her eyes and saw the confusion, maybe even a little sadness that she couldn’t remember, and no hint of recognition. I felt unbidden tears start to fill my eyes. I had thought I had made an indelible mark on her life, only to find out she couldn’t remember who I was.

She was five years old when she stayed with my parents, and it was only three months that our lives had been intimately intertwined. And so much has happened in the years between. I understood why she had forgotten, but understanding didn’t stop the pain of being forgotten.

But that doesn’t stop me from hoping and praying that the seeds that were planted during those three months will someday blossom. I pray that somewhere deep in her heart she remembers the feeling of just being loved—not for what she brings to the table, but for who she is. I pray that even if she can’t remember us, she somehow remembers what it looks like for people to strive to live lives of purpose, lives that glorify God—even if they fail a lot of the time. I hope that somewhere deep inside of her she knows that there is a God and that He loves her very much, so much that He would give His only Son to save her from the wages of sin. I hope that in the quiet moments of her life, she has a sense of hope that isn’t found in earthly circumstances, but in a God who seeks her out and is continuing to pursue her, all the days of her life. I pray for protection, for safety, for peace, and, most of all, for her to recognize her worth.

And somehow, I believe that God can use those three months that “Katie” doesn’t remember to do all of that. Somehow, I believe that all of this is bigger than me, my family, and a good deed that took place five years ago. Because above all else, I believe God is faithful.

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