Last night we went on an "imaginary journey" during foster care class. We were asked to imagine ourselves in our home, with our people, in our favorite place. Then there's a knock at the door, and a "people mover" is on the other side. She tells me that I have to leave my home, my people, and my favorite place to go to a new family, a new spouse, and a new home. She assures me that the new home is much nicer than the old one, and that the family is very excited for me to join them. I arrive at my new home and meet my new family. There are lots of new things (I imagined a jacuzzi tub) and the family is really very nice, but I'm not allowed to see my family or my people again.
A year goes by, and in an attempt to make the most out of it, I have bonded with my new family. I have wanted to see my family, but because of scheduling conflicts, I haven't been able to see them since I left. Then the people mover comes to my new home and tells me that I'm going back to the people who used to be my people and the home that used to be my home. We pull in and I rejoin my family. The people mover leaves, and I am left to understand what I'm supposed to do and who my family actually is.
The idea of this imaginary journey is to help us understand what our foster children are going to be experiencing when they come to us. We'll be expecting them; they won't be expecting us. We're going to be excited about seeing them; they won't know how to feel about us. We're going to think we're helping them; they're going to think that we're pulling them away from everything that is normal.
Although many (but not all) children are going to come to us from abusive homes, it's still their home. Even if their parents weren't showing them love and affection in appropriate ways, it still felt like love to them. (I want to make it absolutely clear that not all children in foster care come from those kinds of homes. Misunderstandings happen. Some parents just need help to be ready to parent.)
And then they come to us. It's a sobering thought. I'm grateful that I get to be the person on the other side of the door. It's a challenge that I am ill-equipped to handle... apart from Christ. By His grace, I have been given all things pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), even if I don't always feel like my tool box has everything that I need. His does, and He lets me use all the tools at His disposal. Infinite grace will be my strength. Infinite love will be my hiding place. Infinite comfort will be my rest.
I say all of this so that I can see it, read it, and believe it. The journey we're about to begin is anything but pretend. It's a good thing my God is as real as any problem.