Something I have learned in being a foster parent is that we were created to love. It is a very rare person, an evil person, who does not love anyone. It's a hard truth, when you are a foster parent, because you want to think ill of the biological parents. There is a reason the children came to you, and its natural to want to blame, dislike, and focus only on the bad.
The thing is, everyone has good traits and bad traits. Everyone makes mistakes, bad judgement calls, and bad choices. Everyone fails.
Yes, you can argue that some are worse than others. This may be true, but we cannot overlook the good in people, just because the bad clouds what is there. Instead of blaming others, we need to be building them up, teaching them, and showing them what love really is.
Too often I see my non-Christian friends talk negatively about the religious people. I wish I could say, they are being bias, but no. Us Christians, judge on the outward appearance, not on the heart. We are quick to jump to conclusions and take a bias stance. We are quick with our tempers, yet judge those who treat us poorly. We show God's love in a way that God never intended. We act as if love is exclusive to those who deserve it and earned it.
How are people ever going to learn how to love well, if they have never been loved properly themselves? For those of us who know what it means to love unconditionally, we need to step out of our ideas of what makes a good person, and love on all those around us.
So what does love look like: It is patient even when the person is rude and self seeking, it is kind even when the person is disrespectful. It is not jealous, but wants the best for that person. It is not bragging about your goodness, but noticing theirs. It is not prideful because of your ability to love, but wanting to show them how to love like you do. It is not rude even when the person deserves it. It is not to satisfy your own desires. It is not filled with anger over past events and pointing these out when they wrong you again. It does not rejoice when the other fails, but rejoices when they find the truth. It protects people from harm, pain, evil, even when you get hurt. It's full of hope, not just for yourself, but for others. But more than all that, it never stops loving, just because you were hurt by them. You still show respect, you still show kindness.
You can love, and yet protect yourself from harm. God never says Trust everyone. Love does not mean trust. I do not give my address or my last name to bio parents. It would not be wise. I do not trust them, until they have earned my trust. Trust must be earned, love does not have to be. I do not leave my child with people I do not trust, even when I love them. I do not go alone with people I do not trust, even if I love them. I do not tell secrets to people I do not trust, even if I love them. Trust and love are not the same thing. God says love everyone, he never said trust them.
No, these are not my ideas. I'm not that wise. I stole these ideas from the good book. I believe in protecting ourselves, but I also believe in love.
Today as I sat and watched the parents of my foster kids love and play with them, I reminded myself of my calling in life. I often want to quit when things get hard, because foster care is probably the hardest undertaking I have ever taken on. It's not like taking care of your own children.
They come to you and you have to care for them before you have bonded, before you know them, before they know you, before they know your rules/habits/expectations, before you know their habits/rituals/needs/desires, before you have time to prepare, before you have time to weigh out the pros and cons of your decision, before you are ready.
Sure, no one is ever ready to become a parent, but with foster care, you are told you have a new arrival at two o'clock, and at five they are in your house, eat your food, and you are supposed to love on them as if they are your own. Even if you have clothes/diapers/etc. enough to care for any age and gender that you are signed up for, you do not have time to find the clothes, put the clothes away for the child you have, plus their is inevitably stuff you have to run to the store for - formula/shoes/socks. So as you are trying to get to know them, you are rearranging not only their clothes but your life. All the sudden that class you wanted, no longer fits in your schedule. That babysitting job that you thought looked so appealing as a long-term position, you need to quit. Those plans you made six months ago and have been talking about forever, no longer are feasible.
Then again, these kids might only stay for a weekend, week, month, year, or lifetime. You don't know. You won't know. Yet you must plan as if they are going to stay. It's all up to the mercy of the court system, and you are just a helpless bystander who has absolutely no control of the outcome.
Two weeks ago, I wrote why I wanted to quit foster care, ironically today, despite all that I just pointed out, I remember why I could imagine doing this for the rest of my life. The kids might be gone in less than a week. I am okay with that. Because for a very short time, I got to love. I got to love someone so incredibly deeply that I forgot myself. I got to see a child who was underweight thrive under my care. I got to have sticky fingers that I washed ten times that day find their way into my hair because she wanted a hug right then.
I don't always agree with the courts decisions, I don't always agree with the circumstances, but I don't have to. My job is not to agree, my job is to love - love the children and show kindness to the parents. I can't change what will happen, but I can make the change easier on everyone involved. I think that's the purpose of being a foster parent. So today, I look forward to my future as a foster parent, either long-term to these kids or to another set.
That first week, when everyone is getting used to each other and you are sorting clothes/diapers/toys while trying to balance your old life with your new, and life feels so overwhelming you find yourself crying at the end of the day, it won't matter. It's kind of like childbirth... or what I have heard about it. You remember it was painful, you remember it was horrible, but then you have this beautiful child in front of you and you forget. The only difference is, a mother in childbirth will keep their child forever, as a foster parent, mine is on loan. At any moment they get to be with their parents. Those sticky fingers will be gone, the sweet stares in my eyes will be staring at someone else, and yet even in the midst of sadness it is all worth it. Every tear, every broken toy, every tantrum, every moment of it is all worth it.
This Christian mom is far from perfect, but continually strives to grow and develop. She is an avid reader of both fiction and non-fiction and focuses a lot on personal growth. She loves to share what she has learned through her studies and her own failures, as well as walks alongside other mothers as they learn together the ins and outs of parenting.