Lately, I have all but forgotten why I wanted to be a foster parent in the first place. Initially, my husband and I had a deep desire to help children in need, to become parents, and to follow the teaching of James 1:27, which says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
Recently, though, my deepest desires have been to sleep in past 6am and to watch season 5 of Breaking Bad. I say that as a joke, but to be honest, it isn’t too far from the truth! We are only a few weeks into full time foster care, and while I already find myself growing to love these children, I also see the ways in which my selfishness is impacting my ability to be a present, loving, and grateful foster mom.
The other day I found myself adding it all up in my head, trying to find a scenario in which I come out ahead in all of this. But the truth is, I don’t. As my husband gently reminded me, that’s what sacrifice is. It’s loving and giving when you are not going to get an equal amount in return. In our case, it’s building a relationship with these two children even though we most likely will not be in their lives a year or less from now.
I realize what a gift it is to have these sweet children in my home, even if they are only here for a few months. I love hearing their little voices say, “I love you” when we tuck them in at night. I love taking them to the park near our house and watching them run and play. I love when J gets so excited after school to tell me he “stayed on green” all day. I love when I pick H up at daycare and her face lights up when she sees me. I love when I’m making dinner and I can hear Josh and the kids playing in the other room.
The thing is, it’s still not about any of those things, wonderful as they may be. That’s where I’ve been getting it wrong; I’ve been telling myself that if enough “good” moments add up, they will outweigh all the heartache and difficulty of foster care and it will make everything worth it. It doesn’t matter how many “good” versus “bad” days we have because we are not doing this for ourselves. We are doing this to honor God, to love these children that He made, and to give their family a chance to remain together. When I make it all about me, I’m miserable. When I reconnect to our true purpose for fostering, only then do I have the strength to show up for my family and try to love them well.
“The most difficult lie I have ever contended with is this: life is a story about me.” -Don Miller