Do Hard Things: The Next Right Thing
Mark 4:35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
I think I know how the disciples felt that night. Foster parenting often feels like boarding a rickety boat in pitch black during a massive storm. “Nearly swamped” is accurate (and, I need that bumper sticker!) When the chaos of court dates and therapies and unknown futures and potential caretakers and slow diagnoses feels so out of control, it can seem that Jesus is indeed “sleeping on a cushion” while my child’s life hangs in the balance.
In those moments, I grasp onto control of anything I can. I’m tempted to control information - who knows what in the case, and when they know it, and how it’s presented to them. I’m tempted to not protest too loudly about an unsafe situation, because I’m worried it might result in this child being placed somewhere less troublesome. I’m tempted to manipulate the situation in any way I can - always, of course, for the best of the child.
But that’s the thing: I do not know what is best for this child. I haven’t known what was best for any of the children in my care, really. I think I know what is safest and best, but it’s from my perspective as a single, white, middle-class lawyer. I am not God, and it’s important that I remember that every hour. What if a situation that seems unsafe to me winds up being the place that this specific child can thrive? What if my precious baby needs a father, or needs to live in a different city or with people who look more like her? Or what if I need to say goodbye so that a child with no other options can say hello?
God isn’t asking me to control every detail of my parenting or this foster case or to manipulate a specific outcome: He’s asking me, and you, to do the next right thing (as Emily P. Freeman so eloquently encourages us to do.) Is there something you need to say or do, even if it could cause an outcome you don’t want? Is there something you need to lay down instead of manipulate?
There’s freedom there, friends. Great freedom in knowing that I am only asked to do the next thing, and am not in charge of the outcome.
Pray with me today: “Lord Jesus, thank you that you love me and my children and their families more than we can imagine. You haven’t asked me to fix their lives or my own, and I can’t. Please help me to do the next right thing - to speak honestly, to love fully, and to take the outcome from my hands and lay it at your feet. Amen.”