The Mess

It started this week when I was on the phone with a nurse discussing my foster daughter’s health. As many of my friends know, we’ve spent an incredible amount of time trying to do everything possible to get her healthy… or more realistically, as healthy as possible for the past 6 months. She is absolutely precious and I love her like she is my own so I am honored and humbled to be able to do this for her.

But, with this has come some surprising consequences.

On the phone, the nurse said that I have it all together and I’m a great parent. I laughed out loud at this because what she didn’t know was that I was standing outside on our front porch so she wouldn’t hear all the chaos that comes standard with three boys raging in the house. Let’s just say that there is usually a lot of screaming involved (although if you’ve read some of my other posts like this and this you’re not surprised).

I know I don’t have it all together, but from the outside, it looks that way to some people. People praise me for all that I’m doing for our foster daughter and tell me that we are amazing and so special to be able to do this.

The truth is though, I’m not special. In a conversation with another friend a couple of weeks ago, she asked how I am doing this since foster parenting is… well… hard. Very hard. It is complicated and messy. My answer to my friend was that this is what I know God wants us to do; I’m completely convinced that this is where I am supposed to be. She looked back at me and said, “Well, that’s it then. He gives you everything you need.”

She is right. I’ve often said, I’m not special. God is. He prepares us and sustains us in whatever situation He wants us in. I don’t deserve the credit. I can’t take any of the credit. I’ve said it before that we don’t look like the ideal foster parent candidates on paper since I have fibromyalgia, three biological sons, and we live in a three bedroom house. I wasn’t even 30 yet when we were going through the process of getting licensed. At 31, I don’t really feel any more qualified! But somehow, He makes it work. He is giving Brian and me the wisdom and the ability to somehow pull this off. It’s not us. It’s Him.

So despite all of this divine intervention, there is a second consequence. There are some people who worry about our three boys as we go through this process. It has been hard explaining, feeling like I have to justify my actions for my foster daughter because it comes at a cost of some time and energy for my boys.

Honestly, there are times I feel like a bad parent.

God’s been working with me on that. My life is complicated, messy even. Not just because of foster care. This is me. I’m a sinner and not a saint. He has redeemed me and His gift of grace covers all of my failures. Wallowing in my failures trivializes His grace, His sacrifice. So does pretending that everything is perfect.

We all live in some sort of mess. From me, foster care birth parents, pastors, missionaries, the homeless person sitting on the street corner, and you. No difference really since the Bible says in Romans 3:23 that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” There really is no difference because a fail is a fail no matter how you do it. We are all in the same boat here. Our world is sinful hence the pain and struggles everywhere. This is why we need Jesus. His death paid the cost for our transgressions so that we might be made whole and reconciled to Him, if we ask and follow Him. He’s the hero.

That is why I am sharing this today. All my authenticity is for the purpose of showing how God is the Hero. He changed my life. I’m doing my best, but we have days like today where we missed church because of sick kids, one threw up in my diaper bag, a different one has wanted to eat nothing but goldfish crackers (and I considered giving in to avert some screaming), I’ve been telling one to climb in bed for more than an hour, and I am really sore from a fibro flare up so I can barely type.

I don’t have it all together, but God does. This is how we parent. This is how we do foster care. Serving Him is like that; He uses broken and hurting people to make a difference for Him. It is so incredibly humbling and profound. What’s more is that He wants all of us to serve Him with everything we do. That’s worship, a way of life. God works best in this mess. Our church had a series awhile ago called “No Perfect People Allowed”; I loved it because we don’t need to have it all together to follow Him.

So no pedestals please. God wants to do the same thing with you, if you’ll let Him shine in your mess. He always gives what you need. He made me “enough” and I’ll be forever grateful.

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2 thoughts on “The Mess

  1. These comments always left me feeling worse than when the conversation began. I began to feel like I had to be ‘perfect’ for everyone, like everyone would assume I was “bad” when finding out I was a foster parents. Especially if a negative media report had just come out. So, I had to make up for it by being even more perfect. As if there was not enough stress in this process already. 🙂

    When being put up on a pedestal, mentally I would begin to list all the ways I was not perfect, how I did not have it all together. Then I would begin to mentally beat myself up for not being a better person. Yeah, I hated those comments. It has taken me a long time to get over the internal dialog and realize that no one is perfect, and that instead of beating myself up about the flaw to take them to God and ask for His help.

    Thanks for the post. I enjoy getting to hear from other foster parents. We do not know many around us, so this is one of the few ways I get to connect with others. Enjoy your day, and I hope things are going well.

    • Yes! I totally agree, Rosie! It is so hard especially after a news report of something horrific happening in foster care. There is so much pressure being under the microscope! While I truly appreciate how people try to encourage me in this whole process since it is truly difficult, it is hard taming that internal dialogue. I feel like if people think I’m some sort of super parent that it just scares them off from being able to do this themselves because they don’t feel like they could measure up. Besides, like you said, it is all about taking them to God since He is the only reason we can do this. He is so very good 🙂 I’m so glad that you came by and connected! I have some new foster care articles coming up soon so make sure you check those out- connecting with other foster parents is so encouraging for me so I hope these encourage you too!

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