I love getting into conversation with individuals when fostering is the topic of discussion. I often hear the same reaction from everyone I speak to: “That’s so great you do that, but I could never. I couldn’t bear to let that child go. It’d be too painful.”
And every time, I politely smile
that they think I’m that brave or that my family is so heroic. Little do they know, fostering has been one of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced. Our first experience made me wonder if I could ever foster again and it caused our family to question if we could really handle it. The first go-round, our hearts were ripped out in more ways than I can count. But you know what reader? It was also one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
For some reason, people think that because we foster, we don’t go through the heartbreak of saying goodbye each and every time we let a child go. They assume that we can “just handle it” or that it “comes naturally”. It doesn’t and I don’t think it ever will.
If you want to give that child or those children what they need, it is a necessary requirement to love them wholeheartedly and give of yourself and be vulnerable. Likelihood is, that child is coming out of a situation where they weren’t loved wholeheartedly, if at all. In many cases, their parents have chosen drugs or alcohol over their own children. These precious little ones have been exposed to more evil than some of us will ever experience in our lifetime…and yet, time and again I experience the subconscious selfishness of people who say they couldn’t handle the emotional pain of letting a foster child go.
While not everyone is called to foster, as Christians we are. God specifically commands us to take in the widow and the orphan. How can we call ourselves Christians if we have the ability to take in a child and don’t? How can we say we love God and turn away the very people He’s told us to take care of?
My heart aches for the children desperately in need of loving homes, desperately in need of experiencing real love, and desperately in need of being treated as part of the family.
As Christians, we have experienced what it means to be adopted. Every single one of us was adopted into the family of God because of the sacrifice Jesus made. His sacrifice is why we are able to have relationship with God. We enjoy the benefit of the sacrifice Jesus made and yet, we don’t want to be made the least bit uncomfortable by extending the same grace and love to those broken around us.
I ask you, how can we call ourselves Christians and not respond by obeying His request to take in the orphans?
Yes, it will hurt. Yes, you might cry and wonder what the point is at times. You may even think you can’t handle it. But then there come glimpses of hope. There come moments where a broken, scared child suddenly blossoms into a healed, brave, young soul who has come alive. Tell me, what is more rewarding than seeing a child made whole again?
I believe C.S. Lewis put it best.
To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.
Fostering hasn’t been easy. It has held more pain than I knew a heart could handle, but it has also carried with it more joy than imaginable. It has given me more purpose than I knew existed and it has brought more healing to innocent lives than can be measured.
If you’ve ever thought about fostering, and even if you haven’t, I’d ask you to seriously consider the difference you can make. And if you’re a Christian, I would deeply encourage you to look at the love of God towards us and extend that same love to the orphans around us, as we’re commanded.
Be vulnerable and watch what God can do through a heart that’s willing.