It seems there’s a rumor going around that I’m some kind of exceptional person. Everywhere I go since we gained a housemate, I’m greeted with “What you are doing is amazing” and “You’re inspirational” and “You have the best hair.” (Okay. Not that one. But I really want good hair.) My inbox has been flooded peppered with over-the-top kindness from people telling me how great we are for fostering this darling boy. And this is causing me all kinds of anxiety because I know the truth, and it’s time to let the masses in on it.
There’s a false belief that you have to be a “special person” to take a child into your home that isn’t your own. Like we must posses some above average ability to love or parent or follow Jesus. I’ve been told how brave I am, how full of faith. And while I covet every thoughtful word of encouragement, I can’t have people thinking we’re anything special. Because we simply are not.
The faith that led us to fostering was full of ups of downs. Up days when I was excited and motivated and ready to take on whatever small and wounded soul the Lord sent. Mostly those days were on Sundays. There was something about standing with my church family and singing to the Savior that gave me the strength I needed to keep walking into the unknown. The song Oceans by Hillsong United became my theme and I sobbed like a baby every time we sang it. Sundays I was full of faith and trust in God’s guidance and provision.
But by Tuesday I was usually saying are you sure, Lord? ‘Cause I really need you to make this one clear. My motto became, “Lord, I do believe. Help my unbelief!” I was a volatile mixture of fear and faith.
There were plenty of down days. Days I wasn’t sure I wanted to do this. My family was happy and
normal healthy and rolling merrily down the road. Our kids were becoming more self sufficient and I began to consider working outside the home. Our life was easy and manageable. And under control. We had a good thing going and I wondered if we should risk it all.
So if you think we decided to foster and then walked headstrong to the day of our first placement with little hesitation, you’re dead wrong. I doubted everything. I doubted my ability to maintain the stability of my current children while also bringing in a new child who needed extra care. I wondered how I could keep up with the endless emotional demands that come with raising kids from hard places. I fought the fear that fostering would somehow lead Titus and Anna to grow up resentful and reject Christ. I obsessed about what problems a foster child might bring into our home. What if they cracked our foundation? During the dark hours when I was plagued with doubts, I knew that I didn’t have the faith required to do this.
God would have to give it to me.
Now that we have a sweet little one in our home, there are moments of exhilaration. We are water walking! We stepped out of the boat and HE IS FAITHFUL. He is giving us what we need moment by moment to navigate this wild new way of living. And often, it’s a rush. We’re touching a life. We’re serving the least of these. We’re rocking this new adventure with Christ!
But sometimes I look at the waves and lose sight of His grip. And that’s when I plummet to the depths.
Nathan was holding him while I was fixing a bottle. He pondered out loud, “I wonder what he’ll look like when he gets older.” The first thing that came to my mind also came out of my mouth…
“What if we never know.”
My heart has never been this vulnerable, this laid out for potential pain. I get physically nauseated at the thought of him leaving us. Of not having him under my protective wing and watchful eye. I fear the day that I might have to hand him over. I worry. I grieve the unknown possibilities. It’s a daily struggle to remember that he might not be a permanent fixture in our family. That he has another mother and my rights are none. I get overwhelmed with the onslaught of new emotions that became my constant companion when he joined us three weeks ago.
And it’s not just the tough stuff, I wrestle with all the silly and selfish aspects of this new thing too. Like, where did my free time go? I kinda want some of it back. I drool at the thought of a housekeeper. And a cook. Or a babysitter that doesn’t have to be fingerprinted and background checked. And I know my sin nature is really kicking into high gear when I start keeping count of the hours of sleep that Nathan is getting verses mine.
I’m harder on my kids because there’s more to do and less time to do it. I fuss at my husband for leaving junk laying around, despite the fact that he has served me and these kids sacrificially nearly every waking minute since our new normal began. I get aggravated. I get tired. I get testy. Just ask my family.
Sweet readers, my belabored point is this. There is nothing special about me or my family. We’re weird and messy and sometimes mean. I have hang ups. I have fears. I have faults. The only thing “special” about me that makes this task doable, is that I also have Jesus.
Beth is Mama Bird to the four chicks in her nest–two bio children, one adoptive daughter, and one foster son–and Wife Supreme to one good-looking pastor. She’s quick to say that nothing in life has ever refined or challenged her more than fostering, and is passionate about sharing what she is learning with others. She loves writing at www.justbethlawrence.com.