Do Hard Things: Just a Foster Parent
Mark 5:24-34 “And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
Even in, or maybe especially in hard callings, it’s hard not to compare. I’m just a foster parent to an infant. My friend MK is a single foster and adoptive mama to SIX kiddos! In these 16 months of fostering, I’ve just helped three kiddos, and one I just helped for a month. There are more than 7,000 kids in foster care in my county alone, and I’ve just loved three of them! I’ve got a lot of work to do.
Thank goodness that’s not how God sees it. To our Father, any work of restoring and redeeming what is terribly, horribly broken in this world is good and beautiful and perfect and worthwhile. It is in the trenches work, moving inch-by-inch, conversation-by-conversation, person-by-person. This redemption work stands against the deep cycles and systems of poverty, mental illness, addiction, homelessness, lack of education and resource and modeling, human trafficking, teen pregnancy, incarceration, racism, and foster care itself.
It feels like I just can’t do much to change those things. I want to build a giant ranch and invite others to come care for dozens of children who need love and security. I want to start a school, and drive a bus, and adopt all of the 100,000 children currently waiting for forever families in the US. I am just a foster mom to three infants.
This is my pride talking. My deep down misbelief that God needs me to fix the problems of the world. That surely God can’t just be asking me to pour my life and love and community into one child at a time for this season: what’s the point?
But then I take stock. What did I do today? Today I snuggled, played with, and talked to my current little love. A baby girl who is chronologically 5 months old today but developmentally 2. Her early experience has made it hard for her to attach to me, to make eye contact, to smile, but she does more of those things every day. Perhaps this is just what she needs. Perhaps today God’s love showed up for her in the form of my arms and my eyes and silly dances. Perhaps that love will compel her to be the cycle-breaker for her family, or to know deep down that she is valuable, worthy, and loved no matter what choices she makes.
This is what my God did. In his most rock star phase, Jesus turned from the crowd of fans to lock eyes with an unclean, humble woman. Her single affliction mattered deeply to Him. She wasn’t just a diseased, pushy woman; she was Daughter.
One of my favorite foster care writers Jason Johnson admonished: “do not minimize what God has gone to great lengths to magnify. Do not devalue that which He has over and over again considered worthy. There is no ‘just’ or ‘only’ in foster care and adoption. There's far more to the redemptive story He is telling than that. The ripple effects you are stirring up through the few are immeasurably more powerful than you could possibly quantify on this side of eternity. Generations to come will never be the same.”
Friends, our efforts are not just. Loving God and his people is never just; it is holy.