love deeply, hold loosely.

i have the most amazing job.

some days, i sit in my car at the end of the workday, and am humbled. some days, i can’t believe that i get to do what i do.

other days, i sit by the window in my apartment and stare out into the sky, wondering how i can survive one more day. 

today was the first kind of day. 

[i prefer those].


my name is janelle, and my job is to find homes for foster kids.

there’s more to it than that, including stacks of paperwork and emails and difficult conversations and meetings.

but that’s the main point.

today, i got to join a foster family as they met their first foster child, a newborn baby. the expressions on their faces were fantastic. this couple answered a phone call and said yes. without knowing what the next days or weeks would hold, they said, “okay.” 

love deeply, hold loosely. 

this phrase is tattooed on my left forearm, right below the elbow. 

i thought about it for a long time, not wanting to be impetuous and end up with an eternal etching that i woke up one day and was tired of reading.

today, i told that foster family: “this is the most courageous thing you will ever do.”

courage. 

it takes courage to love deeply, it takes courage to hold loosely. 

my parents started taking in foster kids when i was 14 years old, and to be honest, i didn’t get it. but my mom used to pray over each kid that moved in with us, and her motto was always the same. 

love deeply, hold loosely.

the reason i decided to finally take the plunge and make it permanent is this: depending on where i am at in my life, i have found that God is often teaching me how to do one of those things.

love deeply. some people are easy to love. without making a conscious effort, or even realizing it, we find affection in our hearts for them. 

others take a bit more effort. 

others, we just can’t stand.

and to love deeply? that is to risk. every time we open our hearts and pour out love to someone else, there’s a risk. 

risk of rejection, of misunderstanding, of dependence. 

sometimes the inclination is to hold back. love a little, but not that deeply. less risk. safer, much safer. 

but to love deeply, i sincerely believe, is the greatest adventure of all. 

hold loosely. when i was trying to decide where i wanted placement of my tattoo, i considered the forearm due to its relevance. 

in my free time (which, now that i work full-time and am in grad school, is significantly more limited than it used to be), i really enjoy rock climbing. the exhilaration of success, getting to the top and feeling your body exert itself, is amazing.

however, after i’ve been climbing, my forearms are always stiff. the action of closing my fingers over hand-holds and gripping with all my might sends tension down the forearm. 

if you make a fist right now, you can lay your other hand on your forearm and feel it clench. 

holding on tightly hurts. 

inevitably, there are moments that are incredibly painful both to hold tightly and to let go. 

in my 27 years, there have been things that God has asked me to let go of. and, there have been things that i have been forced to let go of. 

and i have found this to be true: it is far less painful to be willing to listen, and let go when asked, then to hold on longer. 

depending on the day, i may be more willing to let go. someone that God has put in my life will be driving me crazy. everything inside of me is unwilling. those are the days i need a reminder to love deeply.

or, i may have a great amount of love in my heart, but a possessive attitude. i find myself unwilling to consider that i may need to let go of the person, the situation, the emotions. 

love deeply, hold loosely.

it takes courage. 

currently, there is a scripture that i am riveted to. 

in the Bible, there’s a book called Lamentations, which seems like a very deeply-thought-provoking book, just by the title alone.

“the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end. they are new every morning, great is His faithfulness.” 

[chapter 3, verses 22 and 23].

every morning. not every monday, or the first of the month. 

every single morning. i believe that God will put his mercy upon me every morning, and give me what i need to make it through that day. 

now THAT gives me hope. 

and courage. 

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