The most common response I hear from people when they find out that my wife and I are involved in foster care is this, “I could never do that. I would get way too attached.” After hearing this sentiment on numerous occasions, from wonderful, well-meaning people, there is a sarcastic side to my personality that would like to respond, “Well, fortunately Bekah and I are heartless, militant people who hate kids and cannot wait to get them out of our house. So foster care works out great for us!”
- Can you watch an 8 month old boy start to take his first steps across your living room floor with a huge smile on his face while you cheer him on and not get attached?
- Can you receive a one color picture from a 3 year old girl with her name across the top in very large, uneven letters who proudly says, “I made this for you, Uncle Tim!” and not get attached?
- Can you hear the poorly pronounced phrase, “buh bye, daddy, I wuv you!” from a toddler every time you leave for work for 3 months and not get attached?
If you responded “Yes” to any of the above questions, please, for the sake of children who desperately need to be shown the love of Jesus, never get involved in foster care.
Here is a little secret about my wife and I: we cannot do foster care either. It is too hard. It is too stressful. It hurts too much. There are too many frustrations with the lack of communication from case workers. There is too much paperwork for my wife to continuously fill out. There are way too many personal questions that the state of New Jersey asks us. There are too many regulations on how to parent the child. There are too many tears when a child you have poured your life into for months is taken away with less than a week’s notice. Every time a child leaves there is a piece of your heart that you feel will never come back. It is too much. We simply cannot handle it.
Through this experience I have realized an important truth. God rarely asks us to accomplish something that fits within our capacity. This is why He sent Jesus, because the most important endeavor of all humanity – to live a life that glorifies the God of the universe – I utterly failed to accomplish on my own. Jesus had to live the life that I failed to live, so He could die a sacrificial death that I deserved to die, so that I could be forgiven and live a life that is outside of my depraved human ability to live.
Yet, for some reason, we still filter our life decisions through our perceptions of our human capability.
When God told Moses to lead the nation of Israel out of Egypt, Moses used excuses that are part of our arsenal as well, “I am not qualified.” “I don’t know enough.” “No one will believe me” “I don’t have the ability.”
My favorite truth from that account is that God never tells Moses, “You are better than you think you are.” God tells Moses, “I am better than you think I am.” He says, “I will be with you. I am the I AM. I will work through you. I created you.”
I wonder what God wants to accomplish through you, which you could never accomplish on your own. For my wife and I, it is showing the love of Jesus to needy children for an indefinite period of time through foster care. Let us stop limiting God to our perceived human capacity. We are not better than we think we are, but Jesus is better than we think He is.
Tim Pyne is the Youth Pastor at First Baptist Church of Phillipsburg, New Jersey.