9.14.2019

Easy? No. 100% absolutely worth it? YES!

A few days ago someone pronounced, "You make foster care look so easy!"
While I am confident the person meant it as a compliment, I almost choked on my drink.
Easy? As in little-or-no-effort-required easy? 
I doubt that particular adjective has ever been linked to the foster care world, and though I am not a prophet, I think it is safe to predict that they will not be linked together in the future.

The dictionary definition of "easy" reads:

easy adjective
\ ˈē-zē \
1
a: causing or involving little difficulty or discomfort
b: requiring or indicating little effort, thought, or reflection
2
a: not severe: lenient
b: not difficult to endure or undergo
3
a: marked by peace and comfort
b: not hurried or strenuous
4
a: free from pain, annoyance, or anxiety
b: marked by social ease
5
a: giving ease, comfort, or relaxation
b: not burdensome or straitened

I have not met every foster parent, foster sibling, or extended family member in the foster care world, but the ones I have met? They would laugh out loud if someone read this definition, then looked up and asked, "Isn't that a fanTAStic description of what it is like to be a foster family?!"

Is there beauty in foster care?
Overwhelming moments of sweetness and joy?
Prayers answered?
Hurdles knocked down?
Miracles performed?
Fantastic opportunities to show the love of Christ to others?
Countless opportunities to educate and promote the need for and the joy of foster care?
Spiritual growth and sanctification?
Learning to trust God in the unknown?
Increased compassion after learning the "what" of the "why?"
Multiple opportunities to sacrifice comfort and self for the good of another?
The joy of investing in the life of a child?
The joy of investing in the life of a broken and hurting birth parent?
Milestones reached?
Goals accomplished?
Emotions magnified?
Sacrificial and unconditional love understood and expressed?
Yes!
Yes!
A thousand times YES!

But that is only one side of foster care. There is another.


Isolation.
Rejection.
Disappointment.
Sorrow.
Pain.
Fear. Of the unknown and the known.
Unanswered questions.
Answers no one wants.
Anger.
Distrust.
Resentment.
Suffering.
Unmet expectations.
Loss.

Any or all of these can be experienced by the child, the birth parents, and/or the foster family. Just as the joys of foster care can touch everyone involved, the isolation and sorrow can affect everyone too.

BUT GOD.

He has not called one of His children to a life of ease.
He has not called one of His children to a life of comfort.
He has not called one of His children to live without suffering or sorrow.
In fact, not only does He call us TO suffer, He commands us to rejoice IN our suffering!

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn Your statutes. Psalm 119:71


Foster care may have hundreds of hurdles to clear. It may be exhausting. It may stretch us farther than we ever thought we could possibly be stretched. It may push us to constant prayer and daily surrender because of the unknowns and potential dangers. It may require that we walk alone because there are few who share our passion or want to join us. It may require a level of sacrifice we didn't know existed.
All of these things may be true.
BUT GOD. 
He demands that it be done.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. Proverbs 31:7-8

Like anything God calls us to do, we must obey. Immediately. "Delayed obedience is disobedience." (as a wise person once said) And our obedience must be tethered to purpose, passion, and JOY. For the Lord does not abandon those He calls. He equips. He encourages. He establishes our steps.
He has no choice but to do so! He is the Good Shepherd. And with the Lord as our Shepherd, we are never, ever in want.

Foster care may not be "easy," but it is wonderful. And absolutely, positively, without a single doubt, worth every second of effort, joy, sorrow, surrender, and sacrifice. And in all of it, both the delightful and the difficult, we can CHOOSE to have joy because it is not about us. It is about HIM!

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. I Corinthians 15:58

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