I have a confession to make. Sometimes when I start a new book, I immediately turn to the end of the story to see what is going to happen. In the same vein, I often read spoilers to know what is going to happen in a television show I am watching. I want to protect myself from being surprised by a bad ending.
My desire to know the end before I even start is constantly challenged by our involvement in foster care. Our family has had multiple children in and out of our home, and there is only one thing that you can count on with foster care: you have no idea what is going to happen when the Department of Social Services (DSS) is involved. Many aspects of our family life— where we live, what kind of trips we can take— are subject to the whim of a court that does not even know our family. For someone who likes to be in control and make plans, not knowing the future can be a nightmare. I am learning I can put my trust in one sure thing: God.
Trusting God in the Beginning
When we take in a foster child, it is often on short notice. The state (DSS) calls and tells us a case worker is on the way with a child. Many times, the grief the child feels is overwhelming and heartbreaking. There have been times when our other children woke up in the morning with a new child in the house who was not there the night before. It disrupts family patterns and routines. Immediately, I jump into planning mode, arranging doctor visits, school registrations, counseling, and other services. I secure clothing and other needed items. These plans are difficult to make when I don’t know how long a child will be with us. It’s overwhelming to know where to begin. Often, I return to a verse in 2 Chronicles: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (v. 12). The Lord lifts my eyes from the craziness of the circumstances and walks with me through the next steps He would have us to take.
Trusting God in the Middle
Often in foster cases, the child’s birth family is still involved. DSS schedules visits for the child to visit with parents and siblings. When we first began fostering, I admit things were very black and white for me. I assumed that because these parents had children in the system, they must be “bad parents.” The more that we have been involved in foster care, the more I have seen how this is not true. As we have gotten to know the child’s biological parents, we often see how a bad decision or a string of bad decisions have ramifications for everyone. God enabled us to build relationships and show compassion to those whose children we care for— to honor their birth families and existing relationships. It has been humbling to see how the brokenness in other families often mirrors the brokenness in my own, creating common ground. Involvement in another family’s story can be messy, but we find time and time again that “the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Ps. 34:18)…