National Foster Care Month is coming to an end and, if there’s one wish or prayer I have for this time, it’s that just one of you would say Yes to becoming a foster parent.
My personality is such that I want so. badly. for people to get it. I want others to feel the weight of it and be moved to action. I want to see people living out their convictions and passions and ferocious love for their neighbors… But I can’t make any of those things happen.
That’s the Holy Spirit’s work and I’d make a really crappy Holy Spirit.
One sentiment I heard over and over last weekend at the #trenchesretreat was that women waited months, even years, before saying Yes to God’s call on their lives to become foster parents. And the thing that kept women from their Yes was fear.
Fear of what family and friends would say, fear of entering into the system, fear for their first kids… And when we really got down into the deep places of our hearts, fear of giving up comfort and laying down our lives for someone else. Someone we don’t yet know and might not like. Someone we might love too much and loose too soon.
Since I’m not the Holy Spirit and can’t drum up conviction in your heart, these are just honest words from someone who’s been there and thought that. This is just my “Me too”, to you who feels God tugging on your heart for the kids in your own town. If you and I sat down for your drink of choice and my hot tea, I’d look you in the eyes and say:
I know your fears. You are right. People will not just think you are crazy, they will say it to your face. You’ll have to put your big girl panties on and do it anyway. Jesus’ people thought he was crazy too. You’re in good company.
And the system, oh it’s broken friend. So terribly, unfathomably, achingly broken. Social workers are overworked and underpaid. They are often attempting to balance caseloads even Superman would drop. Some are uneducated, ill-equipped and crass. Others are trying their damnedest to stay afloat and sinking nonetheless. The good ones don’t stick around very long and the pace of it all makes a snail look like an Olympic Sprinter. The system is broken, I nod in agreement with you, BUT (and this but makes all the difference) God is sovereign.
He is there in the darkest and driest places. He is there in the broken and the mess of it all. Our broken world is most evident in the destruction of families and the heartbreak of little ones, I feel sure of it. But He is there. He doesn’t always stop the storm but He promises to get drenched with us.
And your first kids. <long tearful pause>
Yes, you are choosing a life for them they didn’t choose for themselves. Yes, you are opening up their world when everyone else says to keep them innocent and naive. Yes, your first kids will struggle and you will wonder what have you done. You will wonder if it’s all worth it. If you made a mistake. If you can ever get back the family you had before you said Yes.
I’m in that question with you. I take comfort in the words of mamas who’ve gone before me and I cry tears of relief when adults who were foster siblings look me in the eye and tell me they are so glad their parents did what they did. That they too want to become foster parents. That is was hard but it was worth it. And I pray and long for the day when my first kids say those same words to me.
And that thing about giving up comfort and laying down our lives for someone else? It is the absolute hardest thing you will ever do. You can’t even fathom how hard it will be. I can speak those words to you (as others spoke them to me) and they might as well be Japanese. You can’t imagine it.
Because after all, marriage is a mirror but motherhood is a magnifying glass. And I would add that mothering another mother’s child is a magnifying glass with laser like focus on your own sinful heart. It shines right onto the blurry sin you didn’t even know was in there. There is ugly in your heart that stays hidden until the moment someone else’s child looses their junk for the 47th time in a 12 hour day and when it comes out you are embarrassed and shocked and ashamed to acknowledge: it was in there all along.
Funny thing about foster care is, you jump into an intimate relationship with a total stranger and expect to love them. But that’s not how love works. Love is work. Before you get married there’s a period of time where you date, court, explore, inquire, fall in love. Work towards love. With foster care there’s no time for that. Even when having biological kids there’s a nine month courtship in the womb. So yeah, you might not like them. They’ll probably be hard. You’ll probably be hard for them. But love is a verb.
And yes, after you work to love them, you might love them too much. But you know what? It’s not about you. And those kids you are so afraid of loving too much, well, they’re dying inside for someone to love them like that. And then you might lose them too soon. To a clean-for-the-moment birth parent… or a long-lost relative… or the system…
Or, you might see redemption and healing and beauty from ashes right before your eyes. You might see that the people sitting across from you in family court need Jesus just as much as you do and you need Him just as much as they do. You might be witness to the redefining of family and count yourself one of them.
Friend, even though this foster care thing is damn hard, it’s likely the Holiest work you’ll ever do. It’s where you’ll come face-to-face and knees-to-floor with Jesus. It’s where you’ll see light shine in darkness like you’ve never experienced it but that can never extinguish it.
And if God is calling you to it, you can’t say no. Not just because He says if you love Him you’ll obey Him, although He does say that. But also because you will miss out on exactly the life He has for you if you do.
Yes, it will look crazy and different and weird. Yes, it will be hard and weary and beat-your-head-against-the-wall frustrating. Yes, it’s risky and dangerous. But there is a joy and intimacy that only comes when you are in the center of His will. It’s the thin place where you discover the wonder of living wild and free with your Savior at the wheel.
You would be shocked to know what happens to children in your own neighborhood. It’s the kinda stuff you can’t unknow. Once you know it, there’s no going back to ignorant bliss. There’s only Yes to God and forward on His path for your life, laying down your plans and your comfort and your fear of man at. the. Cross. where there is always room for just one more.
If God is calling you to foster care, say yes. And now. Don’t wait until life slows down or your kids are older or your house is bigger or fill-in-the-blank. You’ll miss out on so much if you wait. And the need is so very right now real.