There are many aspects of working with foster kids that stretch us, encourage us, overwhelm us, and stress us out. Many people have told us that they could never do this job or bring foster kids into their private home. I understand that residential group homes or even private foster care isn’t for every family. (Although it pains me to say that because it’s AWESOME)
But. I firmly believe that the way we handle people, emotions, conflict, and a million other things within our foster care job is how everyone should be treating everyone!
(With this focus on Foster Care Awareness month for May, we have thought of many topics to recruit all/any of you to become advocates and active Foster care families. And I will add that yes, there are many ways to support foster and adoption, but nothing can replace an actual home and family for a child. You can give all of your money and investments to a child who needs a home, and they’ll still need a family. Just saying.)
But seriously, I was thinking about all the attributes and skills Jonathon and I have needed to learn in order to live with kids from hard places. And I don’t think it’s a valid excuse to say ‘I could never do that’ or ‘that would be too difficult’. Because if you try, you can!
Do you think I’m a patient person? (I’m not) Do you think I naturally give grace to people? (I don’t) Do you think I even enjoy cleaning up the literal and figurative messes of people’s lives? Let me help you out here. I don’t!
It is hard work on a personal level to see other people’s point of view. It takes a conscious effort for me to think of someone else before myself. I have an attitude when someone else’s choices change my plans. I get mentally and physically tired caring for others. It’s not fun to cry with people.
But every day I’m learning that is what it means to be a wife, a mother, a Foster mom, a friend, a Christ follower. That is what it takes to be who God called me to be. Not just within the world of foster care. Not just within God’s specific call for me and my family. He wants me to do that for every person I meet! God wants me to strive to be better whether I’m working with my children or a stranger. We always want to strongly encourage families to look into foster care and adoption. But above all of that, we want others to see that when you say ‘Oh that would be too much for me to handle’ or ‘That’s a wonderful calling for your family’ or ‘I could never do that’, you’re wrong! The things we do everyday and every night for our kids, everyone needs that! The people you work with, the people you worship with, the person in line with you at the grocery store, or the crabby receptionist at the doctor’s office. They need you to be gracious, to start up a conversation, to listen, to think of them first, to move your schedule around for them.
Yes, it’s hard to do those things, and yes, it’s much easier to say ‘I can’t’. But you won’t know unless you try. Sometimes, you try and people don’t receive it. Do you think the first time I talk with kids they open up or accept my help or don’t think I’m crazy when I cry with them? Let me give you a hint again, they don’t!
The cranky cashier won’t thank you for being gentle and gracious. A coworker might not return a favor for you. Your children won’t be grateful for the daily structure and consistency you bring. Your spouse may not recognize your sacrifices.
God doesn’t call us to act Christ-like only if we think it fits or if it’s not awkward or if someone will appreciate it. It stretches, changes, hurts you most days.
So I don’t care if you never foster or adopt. I don’t care if you never support the cause of the orphan. But please, oh please remember that being a nice, kind,Christian person takes work. Our kids don’t feel safe and comforted because we get frustrated with them and say ‘that’s too much’ or ‘I’m not changing my attitude’. Every day, every hour we are choosing to get up, put up, listen, answer, and work hard for those we serve. It’s as exhausting as it sounds. I’d much rather be laying on my couch with my beautiful puppy or watching Netflix. Trust me.
If you ask God to change you, He will. If you need something, God provides it. If you try to serve someone, it is worth your time. And you CAN do it.
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45