I had someone write to me this morning and it was upsetting. On the one hand she was thanking us for what we do with the foster kids. She's a woman with a big heart and I appreciated her kind words. But sometimes I feel guilty because...well...I don't want to do it anymore. It's hard. Our culture isn't big on community. Our families fall apart for many reasons, a big one being the isolation. For some of us, there aren't cousins, aunts, uncles, siblings or even grandparents around to help and encourage. Raising kids is a monumental task. Why is it that we are expected to be able to raise them well alone?
But then stories like the one this lady shared with me jerk me out of my comforting thoughts of having some "me time" and riding my horse, and sleeping all night and even-gasp: sleeping in some mornings!! Am I selfish? Maybe...So different from you? No. The truth is raising children in this culture is difficult at best.Drugs and alcohol, trauma, neglect, abuse issues- well it makes you want to be sick sometimes. When I get details of the kid's family lives before they came here I sometimes feel like no amount of soap will get rid of the taint on me for having read that. Imagine how they feel.
Here's part of what was relayed to me this morning:
"I won't forget a conversation I had with an 8 year old foster child a few years ago. I asked him what his plans were for Christmas and he told me that he didn't know. He said that the year before that he just stayed in the bedroom while the 'real' kids opened presents. .By then he was with a different family. Broke my heart into pieces"
That kind of stuff seems small potatoes compared to what has already happened to put these kiddos in foster care. But...really?! You couldn't find it in your heart foster mom and Dad to buy a couple of gifts and at least include this child? What makes a person behave like that? I'm not entirely sure but here's the deal- I was treated like that by close relatives at times too. They played favorites and I wasn't the favorite. At times to the point of being excluded from family gatherings and gift giving.
Do you know what message is being sent? "You're not worthy." Among other things. But the saddest thing is that the message, once implanted is almost impossible to eradicate. It's a dirty lie, planted like a seed in the young and fertile soil of a little child's soul that grows into a sinister vine- choking out life. Choking out anything beautiful that could and should potentially grow in the soul. The enemy of our souls is real, and oh how he loves that stuff!
The picture below is disturbing but it's a picture of what's going on in the spiritual realm.(as well as the natural, sadly) Imagine a child's soul as that undernourished and dying, lonely figure. Unprotected and vulnerable. That vulture/demon waiting for death or at least near death to start feasting.
It's sick. Our culture is sin-sick. That means WE are sick. What's wrong with us that we would inflict that or stand by and let it be done?
So, what are you going to do?
Can you not spare some time to tutor or mentor? Buy a winter coat and boots or a doll? Can you not spare the change to take a kid out to lunch at Burger King and look into their eyes and let them know they matter for the love of all things holy??!!
Can you not share some of the burden?
There are so many things you can do even if you aren't in a position to do foster care or to adopt, or even if you flat out just don't want to- which, hey- is okay. I'm not trying to throw something heavy on you; I'm just asking you to wake up and do a little something. Show your humanity in offering a little bit of something of yourself to another human being that at least in the spiritual realm is being beaten and kicked by words and attitudes and messages sent on purpose or inadvertently.
*Submit to a background check
so you can babysit for an afternoon. You might be surprised at how many good foster parents rarely or never get to go out on a date, celebrate their anniversary or just get a break.
*Provide a meal or gift basket of practical items when a family takes on a new child or children.
*Visit the family as often as you can be an "auntie", uncle, or grandparent to the kids.
*Provide a gift card to a teen in foster care. Mentor them. Spend time and listen to them. Their hopes, dreams, histories.
*Help them with college or job applications. Or with getting a driver's license.
Do you know that a very large number of kids that age out of foster care leave with nowhere to go? They wind up homeless, in jail, prostitution? What would you do if you were turned out like that? With nobody and next to nothing? Your belongings in a garbage bag, sending a loud and clear message to your soul: "Unworthy. Garbage. Unwanted. Unloved."
Who the hell is going to erase that kind of message??
Jesus. He asked us to do that.
(the bold is mine)
2 Corinthians 5: 18-21
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin[b] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Because: " Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." (1 Peter 4:8) Yours, mine, and ours. Thank You Jesus.
The holidays are coming. Can you make a phone call to your local children's services and find out if there is a foster kid who is about to age out? Invite them for the holiday celebrations? Do you know so many of those kids have no table to put their feet under at Thanksgiving and Christmas. They don't get birthday cards. As a matter of fact many children still in foster care don't get birthday gifts or cards. In America we have so much crap we have to rent storage units to hold it all. I'm sure we can spare something to give to someone with nothing. The idea isn't to transfer your "stuff" to them- it's to share a message that they matter. They are seen.
People should matter to us.
They matter to God.
We have the opportunity to love others. God desires us to love others. It's written all throughout the Bible. It's the main message. God is loving and He wants us to be loving. People aren't suffering because God isn't looking. It's because we aren't. Or we are ignoring. Willfully blind to another's sufferings. because it interferes with our comfort.
We are given a choice. We have the free will and ability to love. If someone is going unloved, uncared for, it's because there's someone close by choosing to ignore that.
By the way, kids aren't in foster care or put up for adoption because they are bad.
The longer they are without a loving home the harder it becomes for them though.
If we want good citizens there's a whole bunch that we need to change. Go look in the mirror and start right there my friend.
No condemnation. Just a hopeful nudge toward "the least of these."
Because I love them. And you.