Fostering M has been interesting. Especially as we're leading a church.
This past Monday was more bug than windshield. (See previous post.) We had a discipleship meeting at our house in the evening. We had dinner with the folks from C3 we're investing in and M was a train wreck. Hot mess. Crying and screaming. It probably wasn't as bad as it seemed, but it had literally been all day. We actually just apologized and canceled the rest of the evening.
And here's what I'm thinking on. Here's the thing about family. It takes work. Tenacity. Resolve. Grit. Commitment. Love. Fierceness.
We're committed to this idea that one of the most redemptive stories in the world is articulating to someone that hasn't found safety and comfort and love and purpose in a family that these things actually exist and are what God wants His kids to experience. That sounds incredibly beautiful. Until you try to communicate safety and comfort and love and purpose to someone who has zero trust and zero attachment to you. My friend who is also fostering put it really well...the very thing that these kids need is the very thing they seem to be trying to sabotage. It's heartbreaking, but it's also expected. M has been calling everyone mama including me and lots of strangers. It's a word that doesn't have much meaning for him. There's no safety or nurture or woman that he identifies with that word.
The thing about family is that it doesn't just happen. It takes work. Predictable patterns. GRACE. Patience. Love. Creativity. Consistency.
This is either about fostering or about church.
Jesus has brothers. Pretty clear in John 7. And they aren't entirely convinced that Jesus is the Messiah. "For even his own brothers did not believe in him." (John 7:5). See? I wasn't kidding. So Jesus is seeking to usher in this new movement of God and a primary metaphor he wants to use to convey what this movement will look like is FAMILY. It's why he calls God his Father. It's why when he is told his mother and brothers are looking for him, he says that those who hear God's word and put it into practice are his mother and brothers. (Luke 8:19-21) He's redefining family. Fascinating. Family isn't just a gift we're entitled to, it's a gift that he have to participate in.
I think on my naive days, I believed M would embrace this gift we were offering and there would be great bonding and healing and gratitude. But us declaring to him that he was part of the family didn't warm his heart and transform his life and make a bow on the story. We don't bestow family. We show family.
We grieve together, bleed together, laugh together, serve together, eat together, acknowledge to each other that our expectations of what family should be might be sabotaging the family that is available right in front of us.
M may be with us for a season or for a lifetime. And we will only experience the level of Family that we are willing to participate in together.
Again this is either about fostering or about church.
The anthem I feel like God is calling us to at C3 is to be a Family on Mission.
And this kind of family doesn't just happen. It takes work. Predictable patterns. GRACE. Patience. Love. Creativity. Consistency.
And sometimes our ideas of family will sabotage the chance at family right in front of us.
We've tried to be incredibly intentional in our home. Establishing a specific culture with specific rules that are reenforced with consistency and calmness (most of the time!). We say the same things over and over. "Gentle and Kind" "No hurts" "Teamwork makes the dreamwork" "show respect" "asking or telling?" We are trying to implement routine and structure. Language creates culture. Predictable patterns create culture. The likelihood of someone coming around to desiring to participate in the family they see is to do the same right things over and over.
Take it from Jesus, Not everyone will participate. Some will resist. Some will never trust. Some will never overcome their fear. Some will sabotage the thing they so desperately want. Some will believe there is better family out there somewhere else. There very well may be. But all we can do is seek to be family right here in front of them. Chances are they will find fault with whatever family they find themselves in or near and eventually move to the next one.
All I can do is seek to foster a family that offers love, safety and home. We have to lead the way in participating in family and my hunch is others will often desire to participate too. Stay the course friends and let family happen.
For each and every child and each and every child of God.