What would Karyn Purvis do?

It’s hard to put into words the stories of the children I get to work with every day. It’s painful to look a child in the eyes and tell them they are safe when you understand they have never known what that word means. It's unbearable to watch someone hold a lifeless baby in their arms as you try to understand why his life had to end so abruptly.

I was trying to see God’s goodness in the most heartbreaking stories, but at the same time I was wondering why? Why is safety such a foreign word to a 5-year-old child or why did God not answer prayers begging Him to bring a precious baby back to life?

Since almost a year ago, when I wrote my last blog on a similar subject, I have found myself wrestling with the harsh realities of Honduras. There are so many things I wish I knew before stepping into the lives of hurting children. I wish I knew how it would shake me to the core and cause me to dare to question a sovereign God. I wondered how I got to this place. I longed to remember the person I was when I first moved to Honduras.

Ready to conquer the world, Ready to defend each child fearlessly, Ready to be love without reserve.

This was me—passionate and refusing to let anything stand in my way of loving children I might lose. Please don’t get me wrong, this is still me. However, somewhere along the line it was lost in the harsh realities of orphan care. I realized I couldn’t save every child that came through the Centro de Paso, and it was never my place to do so. I pushed through the hard days of children acting out in anger because of their trauma, seeing first hand the heartbreaking stories of abuse and severe neglect. Piece by piece I took on their trauma, a burden that was never mine to bear. I let it weigh me down and tire me out. 

My passion was still there, but I slowly let that fire inside me fade. 

Last year my two oldest foster daughters left to be with their biological father. Through the transition process I grieved and eventually watched them leave with their father on the final transition date of November 18th, 2017.

I was angry and feeling an immense amount of guilt after their transition. I should have done more. I could have done more. A part of me wanted them to go, and I hated that. I loved these little girls with all my heart. But they had a lot of trauma, and it came out in moments of rage and behavioral issues. I shouldn’t have taken it personally, but I did. Loving them was hard and I wanted it to be easy, I wanted a connection we naturally felt. Deep down inside myself I felt like I wasn't able to help them heal from their trauma, but I wanted to try. I had done the TCC trainings, read all the books, and talked to all the right people. I could do this… But trauma is a complex thing and raising children from hard places is exhausting. I kept saying to myself, “What would Karyn Purvis do?”

Eventually I compromised with letting a lot of things go and eating what I would consider enough junk food to fill a 7/11.

I don’t think people talk enough about how difficult parenting children from hard places can be, let alone being a missionary.… I mean, learning a different language and culture, navigating through feeling distant from everything you once knew, coming to America for a vacation and crying because the grocery store has 6 different flavors of Ketchup… it’s a lot to adjust to.  

6 flavors of ketchup is absolutely excessive, but that is how I would describe America anyways.

You see, I believe brokenness is beautiful and vulnerability is what brings us together, but please hear me out when I say that feeling like you have lost your passion is a scary place to be. Burn out is real, and it takes being intentional to move on from that place.

Running on passion is not sustainable and it never will be. Jesus must be where we run to with our heaviest doubts, darkest thoughts, and most overwhelming feelings of emptiness. If we are continuing to serve without the love of Christ and the passion HE gives us for HIS children, then what's the point? 

 I always go back to the moment I knew I was called to Honduras while sitting in the Spangler’s living room surrounded by babies and the most humble caregivers. I knew I would come back, I just didn’t know what that meant. I felt a peace about moving to a country whose language was not my own and where tortillas were eaten like they were the last thing on earth. I could honestly say I didn’t care about all those things. I trusted God and arrived to Honduras passionate and ready to take on whatever came my way.

On this day almost two years later, my biggest prayer is that everyone in this country will wake up tomorrow speaking only English and I will never have to see a tortilla again in my life. I’m kidding… but not really.

I love this country and what I do. I can’t see myself doing anything else. I am so thankful for Jesus and that His mercies are new every day. I am also thankful for a community of people that come alongside me and encourage me through my hardest days. I am thankful for a God who takes our doubts and turns them into belief. We must know that without Him none of this is possible, and our passion for the fatherless is because of His love. 

"9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I will be starting up another blog series about the Crisis Care Center and Foster Care, because it is beautiful but oh so messy. I wrote this blog because it was put on my heart to share some of my most difficult moments and doubts this past year. I hope there is a foster mom or missionary reading this post knowing that it’s normal to feel as if you are losing your passion or feeling burnt out. Remember the base of your passion must come from Him, because without His love we can't serve and display the Gospel effectively. There is a God who is waiting for you to give Him your weaknesses, because His power is made perfect in your weakness. Reach out, because I know there is a community of people waiting to help you through it.