We were going to rescue hurting kids. We had been blessed with adequate financial resources, and so far, we were at least mostly succeeding at this parenting thing. There were so many kids who would be blessed to call our family theirs. God had placed this calling on our hearts. He had given us a wonderful church family, a great neighborhood, an exceptional school system, and everything we thought we needed to fulfill His calling; and now He was saying, “It’s go time!” What we didn’t realize then was that God had bigger plans in mind.
During our training classes to become foster parents, we both began to feel the Spirit shifting our thinking. What if the calling we were sensing was more than rescuing kids? What if instead the calling was to see God glorified through the impossible: freedom from addiction and slavery to sin, restoration of broken and hurting families, healing from generational trauma? After all, this is why Christ died and showed himself as all powerful over sin and death, right? What would it look like to speak the power of the gospel over not only the children we encountered but their biological families as well? That is the question Matt and I began praying over as we finished our training classes and began the licensing process.
Our first placements taught us so much about the challenges of thinking with whole family healing in mind. It was one thing to be a cheerleader for parents who had hit a rough spell, but it was another thing entirely to offer forgiveness when you knew the depths of the parents’ mistakes and you were daily living with the consequences of their choices: the fear in their kids’ eyes as bedtime approached, the angry outbursts whenever boundaries were enforced, or the indifference to the love you offered on a daily basis. Could we really just offer grace when a biological mom blasted us on Facebook or lied about us in a team meeting? Could we speak truth and then move on when a dad’s well-meaning lies caused his child to freak out and backtrack on any progress we had made? Could we accept them and treat them with dignity when their kids ended up back in care only months after reunification? Being completely honest, we failed so many times. Many nights, Matt and I would rant angry words and cry angry tears over the pain caused; but at the end of each conversation, the answer would be the same, “Yes.” Inevitably, each time we would question whether we could again be vulnerable and forgiving and offer grace and mercy, the Spirit would remind us of Paul’s words to Timothy:
“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.” 1Timothy 1:15-16
Two and a half years into the foster family life, we have seen both happy and sad endings to our journeys with families; but regardless of the endings we have seen, Matt and I are able to say with certainty that no family has walked with us without hearing the truth of Jesus’ love and goodness and knowing that we valued them and their story because God does. As is often the case, God has been refining us as He uses us, growing our passion to see Him triumph in the most grim situations and to see His power overcome all the hurt and brokenness of this world we live in each day. Today, our prayer is that maybe, just maybe, He’ll let us partake in bringing about His victories.
Written by AGAPE foster mother, Sara Couch.