The rain was pouring on the other side of the car door.
I could hear the lightning crack.
I could also hear my parents and sister nervously talking.
In the flashes of light from the street lamps that lined the major road we were driving, I wrote three names on my wrist.
Three names, three kids.
My life would never be the same.
In February of 2018, my family began taking classes to be licensed as a foster family. In October of that same year, those classes had been completed and our license granted.
We went two months without having any foster kids in the house.
I can think of two different times that I thought a new brother or sister was coming and it didn’t end up working out.
Why were we doing this?
It was because we know God has called—no, ordered—us to go into the world. Matthew 28:19-20 says “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
I’ve always been told that God gives us a bunch of doors in life. We get to choose which one we walk through to make an impact on the people we encounter on the other side of the door.
The door my family of four had chosen opened the front door of our house to welcome in kids who needed us through foster care.
I will admit that on that incredibly stormy night in early December, I thought it would be easier than it was.
I mean, if God is on your side it will always be easy, right?
Well, in those verses, Jesus says “And behold, I am with you always.”
He doesn’t say “I’m not going to let anything happen to you and you’ll go through life without any hurt and only happiness and prosperous times will follow you.”
He says He’s gonna be with us through all of the bad.
And, oh boy, it was bad.
I won’t go into depth, but our misadventures range from little things like reluctance to doing homework, to occasionally punches being thrown, more recently some biting, and once or twice screams coming from the other room when the individual is on a day where they “hate living here.”
Those are only some of the issues we’ve encountered.
They barely scratch the surface.
I’ve cried more in the last year than I had in my 15 previous years of living.
I’ve seen family members who I’d never previously heard or seen cry sobbing. In this time, I have asked myself and God a lot of hard questions. The answers are ones that I need to constantly remind myself of, and maybe you need them too.
Do I matter?
In situations like the one I’m in, there are people coming at least once every other week to visit with the people I have given up so much for. I have been treated by them and the kids like I am not important.
To ask “do I matter?” isn’t senseless.
Don’t feel bad if you find yourself asking it sometimes.
The fact is that you do matter. Don’t allow anyone to make you think otherwise. You are loved like crazy, you are super awesome, and if Thanos snapped and you disappeared, you would be missed more than you could ever imagine.
You are loved so much that a certain 30-ish year old Man died a horrifically brutal death to save you.
Am I really making a difference?
Even as I write this I ask myself this question.
Nearly a year has gone by with the threesome in my house, and I still question this. My parents are told often that people are seeing a difference in behaviors, but I can’t ever see what those people see.
But if you are watching a blade of grass grow, cultivating it, watering it, and then watching to see what happens, it’s not going to look like anything is happening.
Weeks could go by and you still may not think that it has grown at all.
Sometimes it takes stepping back and looking at a picture of then and now to see it, but it is changing.
Someday you are going to be able to look back on your journey and see it with 20/20 vision. On that day you will see that you really had been changing people’s lives. Don’t give up now. If you do, you won’t get to hear it someday when someone says to you, “thank you for showing me Jesus.”
Is my life just going to be terrible now?
All in one week recently my car broke and it looked like it was going to be an extremely expensive fix, the three kids were driving me up the walls, my friends were getting mad at me because I didn’t have time to go and visit them as often as they—and even I—wished I did, I had gotten behind in homeschool work, and on top of it all my dog that I’d had for 11 years died.
But it’s not always going to be like that.
Don’t let a bad day, week, month, or even year make you think that life is no longer worth living.
Jesus still rules.
Things like our family, friends, or even simply a home may not be things we appreciate as much as we should, but they are still gifts God has graciously given. And through thick and thin, God has new mercies for you every day.
These are only some of the questions I ask myself often, and I’m sure that you ask yourself even more. But know this: God still loves you. In the end, it will all be worth it.
Romans 5:3-4 says “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”
James 1:27 says “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
Through the hardships, I’ve found a few things. One is that I have more hope for the future than I ever had. I have a reason to hope. The other is that I have confidence that someday I will hear God say “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21)
And honestly, that in itself makes the whole journey, and all of the pain I’ve experienced and will experience, worth it.