For almost five years, I felt stuck. Like I was waiting at a train station, or maybe an airport. My waiting lasted from June 2012 to June, 2017. Today, it’s update time.
Before June of this year, I had been stalled in a lingering dream, an area where I’d felt stripped of my identity as a mother. I had wanted to be a foster mom. But sudden and shaming financial obligations crushed all my good intentions in one fell swoop. You can catch up on the details in “My Story”. But that story only creeps up to 2013.
In 2013, I started my blog. I went on to work four different jobs in journalism and communications, and a few years later ended up as the communications manager for our home church. Work was challenging and eye-opening, but I felt off-kilter. My work-life balance was wonky. And I started to doubt my abilities and my giftings for motherhood, muddling my way through a hazy time—which was actually a productive time for my career.
The idea of becoming a foster parent still beckoned. Yet it was increasingly scary for me to discern if I had originally truly heard from God.
Being in no-mans’ land is frustrating. Doubts nagged. Had I simply been imagining things when I thought that I should foster? Had I grown too accustomed to nurturing my own comfort and security? Was I strong enough to bear the chaos of another family intruding in our lives? After all, my foster child’s biological family would still be in the picture. Other foster parents whom we knew had been forced to fend off false accusations, and we ourselves had been embroiled in something similar the last time that we’d fostered. And as my own biological kids became preteens and teenagers, new parenting challenges pushed other issues into view. Did I have it in me to be patient and godly when my kids didn’t obey or bear fruit the way I expected them to?
So as the financial question ceased to be a threat, these other questions haunted. Maybe fostering was just a bad idea in the first place.
In January, I had a chance to talk this through with one of my colleagues, Jay. Jay is a spiritual director and a pastor at our church.
“If it sounds like the calling isn’t going away, then it’s probably a clear calling from God,” he said. “The desolation you went through when you were disappointed four years ago was very real.” Jay then counselled me to ask God to come and heal and show His presence, not His abandonment, through that time of desolation.
Desolation. It’s true. Shame, guilt, and other ugly gremlins had ridden on the shoulders of that initial disappointment. On the brink of tears, I tossed this word, “desolation” back and forth in my brain. In all, it took me at least four years to process this thing called desolation. In trying to be all heroic and stoic about the disappointment, I’d managed to avoid casting blame on others. But I’d never really allowed myself to fully grieve the loss of a dream, and to affirm the goodness in what I had originally wanted.
The next day, I boarded a flight to San Diego for a work-related conference. On the plane, I caught up on some podcasted sermons from our church—pieces highlighting God’s calling of Samuel. Simple, lovely scripture chimed one clear note: though Samuel thought Eli might be calling him, he did indeed hear God’s voice. I was also in the middle of John Bevere’s book Driven by Eternity. In it, Bevere reminds us that God does often call people to lowly, humble roles. But whether we embark on a great career or a lowly one, the key lies in God’s calling. And I’m aware of the working-class stigma attached to foster parenting—even more reason to take up the gauntlet and break stereotypes.
So I brought it all full-circle. I broached the topic again with my family. It had been almost five years since we’d talked about it. My husband, with his strong sense of right and wrong, was ready. My kids weren’t quite as thrilled. And to be honest, I was probably more in the kids’ camp, bracing myself for sleepless nights and other unknowns.
But how can I disobey? I think that is the fundamental part.
I’ve skateboarded down into the dip of doubt and questions, and I’ve emerged with a resolute path forward:
Okay, that’s not a skateboard. And that’s not me (it’s my son).
But all this to say that God spoke loudly and clearly—which is what I specifically asked Him for. I asked Him for a clear confirmation, and also a clear road forward. So we put in our application to become foster parents in January. The paperwork twisted and wound its way through the system. We were assigned our first foster child in June.
I finally find myself a mom of three. Here we go again….