Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Selfishness and Selflessness

I'm going to apologize right now for rambling. I've been avoiding this topic for months because I didn't know how to address it. This may never see the light of day, for a variety of reasons.

Just over three months ago my wife and I became foster parents. We got involved with a program called Safe Families. A voluntary program for parents in crisis, designed to give them some support and help before abuse or neglect require that the state needs to get involved. It's church based. It asks the church to be the body of Christ to step up and help those in need. The program was new to our area, and we were among the first families to apply. About three weeks after we got approved, we welcomed into our home siblings aged one and two.

Some details become important here. My wife and I are almost empty nesters. High school, college and married kids are now our life. Our house was never kid proofed. our youngest was six when we moved in. Toddlers aren't our wheelhouse.

For security reason I can't say much about our kids. They are siblings, toddlers, and all kid. Precious beyond what I could have imagined.

They've reminded me a lot about kids, but I learning a lot more about myself as this goes along.

I'm much more selfish than I knew. Many days I resent giving up the freedom that we had at our house prior to their arrival. The ability to takeoff and go is kind of gone. I now remember why we didn't attend a lot of events when our kids were little, and sitting still isn't a big skill of mine and even less for toddlers. Having to leave an event, or not attend shows me a side of me I don't care for.

I used to think I was pretty patient, but I have nowhere near the patience that a single parent needs. The amount of respect I have for someone doing this on their own is tremendous. My wife was traveling for four days recently and I got to be a single dad for that period of time. It was exhausting. Absolutely exhausting. One night of very little sleep and the I don't know that I would have been much good at work the next day. Thankfully they picked a Friday night to keep me up. Most single parents don't have that luxury. Every day is go time.

I'm the most uncomfortable when someone compliments me on what my wife and I are doing. Not every moment is filled with a full measure of Christ's love. Sometimes it's a lot of work, and I get lost in the fact that it is a lot of work. I've always thought that I was giving til it hurt, but that was giving until a tiny bit uncomfortable. So the compliments are hard to accept because my heart doesn't always feel that.

I've been asked by teens that I meet through youth group how I could care for a child that wasn't mine. Those kids were pretty easy to love. The day to day raising of them was someone else's challenge. All I usually lost was a little sleep. Loving these two is both more difficult and much deeper. I rarely deal with tantrums when working with teens, but toddlers are a different story. But nothing beats the hugs and kisses from a child. Nothing.

So why do this? That's a good question. The most obvious answer is because there's a need. It's one of the most glaring in-your-face ways of being asked to show Christ's love to those who need help. But it isn't easy.
I once asked a young lady who asked me for help,"Why did you come to me? I mean, I'm big and old and scary. Why me?"
Her answer floored me. "You don't understand, there wasn't anyone else."
Single parents without a safety net, deal with that kind of situation everyday.

Please don't make me out to be something I'm not. My wife and are are just trying to be faithful. But if you see a program called Safe Families coming to your area, Take a look.
The blessings are out of this world. Literally.