The more I think about the issues from my last post, the more I’m sure my job, and my life, boils down to one simple, yet exceedingly complex word: Love. My job as a man, husband, friend, and family teacher is simply to love. In my theologically untrained opinion, the overarching theme of the New Testament is love. According to The Man himself, if we don’t do anything else, we are commanded to love God, love each other, and love ourself. Of all the things we are commanded to do, if we love God and love those around us, everything else will fall into place (paraphrase of Matthew 22:37-40). One of my favorite passages about love is in 1 John 4. It’s a little lengthy, but worth it.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. (1 John 4:7-21 NIV)
There is so much good stuff in that passage that I could’ve just posted it on it’s own and been confident in this weeks blog.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love (v. 18). When we get new kids into our cottage, they have often been taken into emergency protective custody, or EPC, by the state of South Carolina. This means that there was a report, and the powers that be determined that the child or children are in imminent danger and therefore must be taken without warning, and often without any of their belongings. Some of our kids had a swat team storm into their house and were taken by police with their parents being held at gunpoint. Some of our kids were called into the office at school and told that they weren’t going home after school and they had to go with a DSS worker. We very commonly encounter kids who are very fearful when we first meet them. Our job as family teachers, especially in an assessment cottage, is to make sure the kids know they are in a safe place. Anytime we get new kids, we tell them that our goal is to make sure they are happy and they feel safe. It is 100% ok that they are scared and unsure about their new surroundings, but we want to demonstrate the perfect love of Jesus, because we know that it drives out fear. We don’t immediately evangelize to them, and it’s usually a few days or weeks before we ever talk to them about Jesus, but we strive to love on them in very practical ways, by providing consistent food, shelter, and comfort that they may have never experienced.
I was going to do a post about the similarities between my current job, working in foster care, and my previous job as a paramedic, but then I started typing and this happened. I’ll still do that at some point, but know that the biggest thing that the 2 professions have in common is love. Caring for those who need it most, when they need it most.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t do a good job of this on our last shift. One of the things our kids need most is consistency, and I failed at that. I wasn’t sleeping well, which, combined with an early morning run in with a 5 year olds diarrhea made for a very grumpy Mr. Jon. I was nowhere near as patient as I normally am, which led to some interactions that, long story short, should have gone better. I am very thankful for a strong and patient wife, who was able to keep me in line, and for a gracious God who never stopped loving me. Listening to a sermon on grace yesterday really hit me hard. I am no different than the kids that are in my care. I am flawed and human, I’m annoying and defiant, but I am loved most when I deserve it the least.