My wife Kristi and I have been foster parents for almost one year now. Trust me, I know how crazy this is to most people. We already had four biological boys of our own. But we didn’t feel like our family was done, even though it was done biologically (trust me, I had the surgery). So, last July we began praying for a bigger van. We simply outgrew the normal minivan. A minivan could no longer hold our love.
Last week, we picked up our new 12 passenger van. And just in time, too.
I can’t give a lot of details, but our world has became a lot more chaotic. In fact, it’s a beautiful madhouse. Late last week, we received a call asking if we could take three more foster kids. We said yes. So, we went from 5 kids (our 4 sons and Baby G, who we’ve fostered for almost a year now) to 8 kids in our home. It helps that the other kids are Baby G’s biological siblings, but It doesn’t help as much when 8 kids are fighting, fussing, whining, pottying (on a potty or in diapers) or falling asleep at the most inopportune of times.
We never set out to become a big family. But then again, we never opposed being a big family. That much should be obvious with four biological sons of our own. But there’s something unexplainable about foster parenting. Someone recently told us that as you begin to love the kids God places with you, your heart expands to love each additional child for the season they are with you. That is very true. But it’s hard. In fact, sometimes it sucks. Our house is loud. It can get messy and lots of things break. We sweep/mop/vacuum/wash dishes/load laundry/fold laundry/put away laundry/wipe privates, change diapers, wipe mouths, tables and floors, etc., multiple times a day. Every day. And, in addition to the normal household chores that any children bring with them, foster children often bring problems of their own with them (though the problems are most often not their fault) and these kids are no exception. But then again, biological children are not always a walk in the park either. This type of life requires sacrifice.
But then again, it always takes sacrifice to love others, doesn’t it? And this has led me to lots of thought and prayer lately.
I am passionate about foster care and adoption. We have four biological children of our own and then decided our family wasn’t complete. But I know people that aren’t called by God to be foster parents. And that’s OK. I am under no illusion that you are called to be a foster parent, especially of multiple children. And I’m OK with that.
Just don’t tell me how crazy I am for opening my home. I already know that. I can’t even go to Target without getting stares and comments. Even in the heart of Suburbia, large families are not the norm. I understand that you may not be called to open up your home. But I have to ask: how has God called you to sacrifice? Even though I may not know personally, I can guarantee you that God has called us to more than a comfortable American life where we put our church sticker on our car and call it good.
How has God called you to sacrifice? How has God called you to embrace and enter the suffering of the world He loved enough to send Himself/His Son to die for? Just like I believe that ”Not Every Local Church Is For Every Person,” I believe that not every Christian is called to sacrifice in the same way. But all Christians are called to sacrifice. Something.
This may seem self-evident to you, but the way Christians treat one another says to me that we don’t believe this. I am weary of Christians believing that because we’re not all called to sacrifice in the same that we’re not all loved by our Father in the same way. While most of us would never be so blunt as to word it that way, this is exactly how we treat one another. The ones who passionately sacrifice on behalf of those caught in sex trafficking/slavery sometimes look down on those who aren’t called to serve in the same way. The people giving their lives to the homeless want others to share that passion. Those fighting abortion passionately ask “Where. Is. The. Church?” Those, like me, who open up their homes for kids with no home wish that more Christians would do the same.
But instead of celebrating and encouraging and equipping the beautifully different ways Christians can and do impact our culture, we cast dispersions at those who aren’t called to serve like us.
Now, I’m going to be brutally honest; if you claim to follow Jesus and you’re not living sacrificially in some way, I urge you to repent. I’m not sure you can truly belong to God’s family and live for yourself. However, that’s really not the group I’ve been thinking/praying about.
I am far too quick to dismiss those who are not like me. But at the same time, I tire of people that are just like me. After all, “variety is the spice of life,” right? What kind of world would it be if we all liked the same music or movies or food? I am deeply concerned that we are creating non-necessary dividing lines within the big freak-show tent of Christianity. I am far too quick to think that if you’re not called to serve in the same way that I am, then you’re not called by God at all. And that’s just nonsense. We don’t all like the same music. And that’s awesome. We don’t all like the same movies and I thank God that I’ve never had to sit through Titanic or Avatar (the 3D thing, not the animated series) even though I can appreciate that those may be your thing.
Why do we all take for granted that our passion (trafficking, abortion, homelessness, poverty in all its forms, health, water, children, hospitals, literacy, etc., etc., etc., etc.,) is the only passion? If that were the case, we might make a large dent in one issue without making any dent in others and making little to no impact on the big picture. Why are we so quick to elevate our own passions while diminishing others (hint, I think it’s because, even in serving, we are arrogant)?
This whole journey has reminded me that God’s people are nothing more than a beautiful circus of crazies and freaks. Instead of judging one another for not serving in the same way, why aren’t we one another’s best cheerleaders? Instead of looking down on each other for not serving in the same way, why aren’t we reaching back to grab the hands of those who aren’t yet serving at all? Instead of believing that our focus is pitch-perfect, why aren’t we all listening to the beautiful symphony of God’s will to reconcile all things to Himself through the Son while we try to find our part in the orchestra?
If the world will know that we belong to Jesus because of our love for one another (John 13:35), I wonder what our false judgment of one another tells those who are paying any attention?