It’s a complicated thing to be a parent. To be responsible for lives who aren’t born knowing right from wrong, A to Z, or even how to feed themselves. As parents we’re often exhausted, but the messy kisses and sticky hugs motivate us to grow in love.
Being a parent hits differently after a known tragedy though. Most of you probably know about the school shooting that took place in Texas yesterday, May 24th. 19 kids under the age of 12 never got to go back to their parents that night. My social media feed is littered with crying parents saying how they hugged their kids harder or prayed a little longer this morning. Some call for more gun laws. Some rage about how we all need to have the same outrage for other tragic deaths.
Regardless of how they reacted, everyone seems to feel something. Especially those who are parents themselves. Whether a bio parent, adopted parent, foster parent, teacher (who parent a whole class), a godparent (who parent through friendship), or an Aunt or Uncle (who parent through extended family). Regardless of your title, most of us are parents one way or another, and we feel the need to do something to protect our children.
As a fellow bio parent and foster parent (and praying to be adopted parent), I want to call our attention to the social media posts that made me pause today. I won’t call anyone out, mainly because most of these posts came from strangers on group pages. I stared at these posts as I lay in bed still wiping the sleep from my eyes as my kids played waaaaaaaay too early this morning.
The posts called for unnamed people to “do something.” One cried saying they wished they themselves knew what to do in light of this tragedy. These people were crying from a place of confusion. They simply know SOMETHING needs to be done.
And, I agree. And posts on social media might not be the best way to start. Ha, I can feel I lost a few of you there in that last sentence! Maybe 2 of you nodded your heads, but I know I struck someone in their soft spot.
Seriously though, I want to talk about what we CAN do. What WE can do.
I’ll start by saying I do NOT claim to be all-knowing. I’m not here to tell you I’m wiser than you or the next person, or I’m here because God appointed me as a great speaker. Nope. I’m humble Laura. The girl from southern Jersey who has dreams bigger than her wallet size and ideas more abundant than time. The girl who said at 5-years-old “I want to grow up to be a mommy and a Christian.” The girl who simply wants to be in God’s perfect will, no matter what.
As this simplistic girl, I come to you with the words that came to mind as I scrolled through social media last night and this morning:
God has fully equipped us for every good work.
In my devotions this morning, I looked up this phrase and there are several scriptures to back this up:
“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.” – 2 Peter 1:3
“May he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.” – Hebrews 13:21
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10
But this scripture inparticular stood out to me. Please read this one carefully…
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-7
If you’re a keen reader who’s read my past blogs, you might have noticed the plural to the “kids” I referred to earlier. My husband and I were blessed with one amazing son, but I wasn’t able to have any more kids after him. At first, we simply put off the decision to have another baby. Then, due to cancer, I was told I shouldn’t have any more kids. We’d always wanted to adopt, so it became an easy decision to make our desires reality last year. Our adoption path though proved long and without success in matching with the little girl we were desiring. So, in March, we became foster parents in hopes that a girl would pass through our home who we would be able to adopt. One such little miracle entered our home a month ago. She’s not yet legally free for adoption, but we’re praying she will be with time. She’s our daughter, and we know this SO STRONGLY.
(I’ve sped through our little story here, but you can read more of our journey on this page.)
Even though this is the first I’ve mentioned her on my blog, I’ve brought up this life event a few times on social media. Friends, family, and neighbors have seen and loved on her as well. And with some interactions, I’ve noticed a curious thing I never expected. A common string of phrases tend to come from both friends and strangers. Like the messages on social media in reference to the school shooting, I pause. It’ll randomly pop up and I still don’t know the proper way to respond to these well-meaning words.
“That’s such a wonderful thing you’re doing. I could never have the heart to foster.” or “You must be so brave and caring. More people need to be like that. There are so many kids in the system…”
These people are sweet, but I hate to burst their bubble: I’m NOT NOT NOT any better of a person because I’m a foster mom. Just like a doctor isn’t more important than a nurse – or vice versa. A musician more important than a painter. A non-fiction writer more important than a novelist. A bowl more important than a cup.
All I did was go after a desire I had. A God-given desire. And I pursued it until it came true, no matter how hard the road. And boy, that road continues to be hard!! However, a difficult road for some can be easier for others. Since God gave me a heart for abandoned children, the difficulties melt away and become easier.
What frustrates me though is that some people look at this event as “so good” that they do two different things at the same time without realizing it. One: they see it as so good & difficult that it is unachievable to them. Two: they see it as so good and difficult that it pails other good achievements that they seriously should be doing.
I want to look at 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 again… “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
If everyone had the heart to foster/adopt, another part of our world might be neglected. For instance, I don’t have a burden for the elderly. I care about them, but I don’t have a desire to volunteer at a nursing home. Neither do I have a yearning to help the homeless. I care about their wellbeing, and have given money when convicted, but I don’t feel ambision to serve at a soup kitchen. These are just two areas I know of that need help and care. Am I any less of a person because I don’t volunteer at ALL of these things? Nope. And NEITHER ARE YOU!
We’re all given a variety of gifts, services, and activities for the common good. Just like we’re all blessed with different talents, we’re blessed with different compassions on where to serve. Maybe someone was called to help teens like the 18-year-old gunman. Maybe someone was called to be a hero like the patrol officer that stopped the gunman without waiting for backup. Maybe someone was called to be a teacher who did nothing more than comfort and protect the children involved.
As a parent, we know in our hearts what’s best for our children. We know how to keep them safe and how to steer them on the right path. It’s an instinct we can’t always name, but it comes to us from God who is the ultimate parent. God shows and directs us what to do too. Sometimes it takes us a loooong time to figure out what He’s saying, but know that He is indeed there. He’s always a conversation away.
When we say “I wish I had the heart for this,” or “I wish I knew how to change that,” know that those questions are only the beginning. Don’t stop there. Maybe you do actually have the heart for that service or you do have the ideas on how to change that event/cause.
Start with prayer. Start with talking to our Father. Then ACT. Act on the convictions in your heart. Don’t content yourself in writing a social media post that does nothing more than state a wish. Don’t content yourself in congratulating other people in simply doing what they were called to do. Be the change God made YOU to be! Because we were all made for such a fantastic purpose. We’re all pieces to the world’s puzzle. All parts to the same body. And I for one can’t wait to see what we’re all meant to do! And I’m excited to be a part of this journey with you all.
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. – Hebrews 13:20-21