I remember sitting with a friend of mine, many years ago, who had a few foster kids and telling her that I had always wanted to foster or adopt. She gave a little head tilt, smiled and said "I have had so many people tell me that... and then they never do."
She surprised me with her words and I felt a rush of guilt.
The feeling was actually quickly replaced with a little bit of frustration, because I thought to myself: Foster care is not for everyone.
Neither is adoption.
I felt that way then, and I feel that way now. I don't think that I started feeling that way as a form of justifying the fact that I wasn't fostering, or hadn't adopted.
I just felt like God calls different people to do different things.
That was many years ago, but since that time I have heard the same comments on various blog posts or showing up on my news feed.
It's basically the belief that if you don't take the first half of a verse out of the book of James
"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans...in their affliction" and apply it to your life as a believer, you can hardly call yourself a true Christian.
I don't think I've ever seen the ellipses on the other side of the verse which would read this way:
"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit...widows in their affliction"
I'm fairly certain there are not t-shirts for purchase with the number of widows in the world on the front.
All I'm saying is that it is not only the same passage, or even the same verse - it's the same sentence that talks about orphans and widows.
So if we are talking all of God's Word and applying it as we should, our job should be to care for both the orphan and the widow, not just one.
Just something to think about.
Before you start to feel defensive or irritated with what I'm writing, all I am asking is that you take the time to think about what you are choosing to live by. That you are choosing to live by the Bible in its entirety, and not simply certain words and phrases that get the most attention.
The purpose of anything I write about is just to get people thinking.
I feel like we are so fast-paced.
We go, go, go. We serve, serve, serve. We move, move, move.
And sometimes it's possible to forget what we are going, serving or moving for!
I am a firm believer that God speaks to His children.
I am also a firm believer that God has a specific purpose and plan for each and every one of His children.
I believe that God does not need us to fulfill His plans, but chooses to use us if we are willing.
I have felt the urge, over the years, to write a post like this because of the fact that my heart was for the orphans.
I have family and friends who are in my life because of adoption and I am so grateful for that.
But because I personally had never fostered or adopted, I felt like "those" people who had fostered or adopted would now have more fuel to add to their already judgmental thoughts towards people like me.
(CLEARLY, I am not say all people who foster and adopt are judgmental, I am just saying that some are and "those" people do not make up the majority. They are just a little bit louder, but can make people feel guilty.)
Here I am now. Several years later. For the last 7 months, we have had a foster son living with us.
I adore him like he's my own, but I still feel the same feelings I had then: Foster care is not for everyone. And that's ok.
I guess that the main reason I am writing this, is because since I have started fostering, I have had several people say the same sentence that I said to my friend many years ago.
I pray that my response encourages them in this way:
If God is calling you to foster or adopt, you better do it.
If God is not calling you to foster or adopt (now, or even never) don't feel guilted into doing it anyways!
With the huge push by people to care for all the kids in foster care, I can't help but think this:
What if we stood on the other side of the trap?
Here is what I mean.
The enormous trap is this: Teenagers and young adults looking in all the wrong places for love, for acceptance, for hope.
They find it in drugs, alcohol, and sex.
Once they fall into that trap, the problem is only escalated when they find themselves pregnant.
So we, as people who truly want to help, stand on the other side of that trap and try to convince everyone we can to join us there.
That it's our job.
That it's our duty.
That we need to stand there and take care of all the babies being born into drug-addicted homes and all the children being neglected in them.
And that is true to some degree.
But the thought that keeps coming back to me is this: what if we stand in front of the trap and try to convince some people to stand in front of the trap with us? We could show these teenagers and young adults that HOPE comes from a real relationship with a real God.
That they don't need to choose the drugs, alcohol and sex to feel valued.
And maybe if enough of us stand in front of that trap, there will be fewer babies born into drugs in the first place.
There will be less of a need for drug rehab centers,for foster families and for all the consequences that come from falling into that trap.
This will relieve the load of DCYF who is clearly understaffed, and it opens opportunities for people who want to be a part of God's purpose but doesn't feel like taking children into their homes is His purpose for them.
See, we are all gifted differently. And we should be encouraging people to fan the flame of the gift God gifted them with.
Not the gift He gifted me with!
And of course, some of us will have similar gifts and will be called to foster or adopt.
But that does not mean that all of us will.
My goal in life is to please God.
The way I please Him is to first make sure that what He has already called me to do, I am doing well.
For me, that means making sure my relationship with Jesus is number one.
Then it means my marriage and my family have to take priority over my ministry.
I can't emphasize that enough.
If my relationship with my husband is struggling, and my children are not following Jesus the way they should be, I do not feel that I should be pushing those aside to serve in another way, even if it is by taking children into my home.
Take care of the things God has given you first.
And then move forward with serving after that.
That is what He wants from us.
So where are you at?
If you feel that God is calling you to do foster care and you are pushing it aside, take the step to move forward today.
If you feel that the sad pictures of the children and your neighbor down the street who is fostering is making you feel guilty and like you should foster? Stay right where you are. Talk to God. Listen to His voice. And then move forward one way or the other.
There are needs all around us.
Fan the flame of the gift God has given you, and don't allow people to make you feel guilty if you aren't fanning the flame of the gift God has given them.
It's not about what looks good to the outside world.
It's about what looks good to the glory of God.