Sunday, May 21, 2017

No Fear in Love {Foster Care}

One of the most common things we hear from people when they find out we do foster care is some variation of:  "I would love to foster, but I'm scared to love a child and have them leave." I get it, I really do. I used to have the same feelings, but God broke down my walls a few years ago and here we are: loving kids who might leave. The goal of foster care is reunification. Ideally, that's what foster care should accomplish. Families being brought back together. Families healing. Families finding a new way. Families overcoming huge hurdles in their lives so they can be together. Does it always happen? Of course not. But to step into foster care, you really have to be aware that putting families back together is the goal. That you are part of a team working together toward that goal. That there is a pretty good chance that somewhere along the way, you will love a child who will leave. 
I fully understand the fear of becoming attached to a child, loving them like your own, giving them your entire heart, only to have them move on and possibly forget you. I have been knee deep in that reality for the last year and a half. In my opinion, that is proof you would be a wonderful foster parent. Those who attach to kids, love them with their whole heart, and love them unconditionally are the exact kind of people kids who come from hurting places need. I can't imagine any great foster parents start out thinking, "Yeah, I probably wouldn't love these kids very much. Where do I sign up?!" But just because it's scary doesn't mean you shouldn't do it if you're feeling the pull.
Here's how I see it. The first time you started a dating relationship with someone, what did you feel in the beginning? Were you already scared that it might end painfully? Or did you let yourself fall in love and experience the experiences? Did you constantly think "what if this doesn't work out? What if I end up with a broken heart?" Or did you let yourself fall for that person, taking a risk on love? What about subsequent relationships? If you had your heart broken once before, did you swear off love forever? The way I see it, foster care is an opportunity to take a chance on love. Yes, you might get your heart broken. Yes, you will probably get deeply attached to kids and they might not stay with you. Yes, it is risky and scary. But it's also amazing. You also get a chance to learn to love in completely new ways. You get opportunities to show precious children how to attach and show them that there are people who will love them unconditionally, no matter what. Is that worth it, even if they leave? Yes, 100 times over. My personal feeling is that I would much rather my heart be broken than theirs.
In 2 Timothy 1:7 we are commanded not to live in fear. "for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." Would you be willing to walk into a relationship with a child who needs you, not filled with fear of the future, but ready and willing to love? Just like you probably have walked into relationships with significant others, or even with friends, not wondering how or when it would end, but enjoying the time your relationship gets to grow. I don't personally know anyone who has completely sworn off love because of the "what ifs". I don't know anyone who has said "I never want a relationship-it's too risky." Yet, it's the most common reason I hear for not stepping into foster care. I know foster caring is not for everyone. It really isn't. But for the people who truly have a deep desire to step into this place, why haven't you? If it's because of fear of loss, please truly consider what I've said here. There are kids out there who need you. Trust me, I get calls every week for them. It's easy to turn a blind eye to the need when it doesn't personally affect you, but it is there. If you know me personally, you know two of the faces for whom this is reality. Think about those precious faces, as they may be the only ones you know who are affected first hand by this. Consider all that God has done in their young lives. There are many more just like them, right here in our county, who need someone to take a chance on loving them. Take a few minutes, if you will, to let some of the words from the song "No Fear in Love" by Steffany Gretzinger, seep into your soul. 

Stir in me a love that's deep
A love that's wide
A love that's sweet
And help me Lord to never keep it to myself 

Has God given you enough love in your heart to share with someone who really needs it? Someone who is deeply worth it? If you're feeling the pull, ask Him to show you how you can share that deep, wide, sweet love that He has stirred up in your heart.
If my babes leave, will I be devastated after having loved them to the best of my ability for so long? Absolutely. Will I regret having experienced the joy of loving them, and having them love me in return? Not a chance. 

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