what my love does

I missed week 4 of my series, Weight Loss Wednesday. The week was hectic and exhausting and overwhelming and full of lessons. I promised myself over and and over that I would write the next day, concocting what I would say, but I never found or made time to press my fingertips to the keyboard and type out any of my thought words.

This weight loss journey is a process. I've said it a hundred times. And I will think it - possibly say it - a million more times. There's no real pats on the back along the way. There's only me looking into the mirror and down at the scale and wondering why other's words of affirmation don't quite stick.

I'm a positive person. At least I try to be. But it's so much easier to concentrate that positivity on someone else rather than turning it onto the person in the mirror. I'd much rather focus on those put in my circle than focus on myself. Sometimes, though, I turn inward and do my best to forget about what it is like to care about others. That never lasts long. I was born to care and born to help and born to worry.

Ever since I earned my bachelor's degree in 2008, I've worked in the realm of social services. First as a social worker. Then recruiting foster families. Now I'm part social worker and part health advocate and fully serving an underserved population. It is one of the most thankless jobs there is.

Firemen are recognized for saving lives. Teachers are recognized for saving minds. Military personnel are recognized for saving the country. And social workers are forgotten - just like so many of the children they serve are forgotten.
There are over 8,000 children living in foster care in Oklahoma. Over 8,000 children who have suffered abuse and neglect and loss after loss after loss. Over 8,000 children who do not know how to handle all the conflicting emotions or the things they hear from social workers. Over 8,000 children who do not know where they belong. Over 8,000 stories most don't want to hear because the abuse hurts.

I don't know why this is my field. Or why God continues to place me back into the lives of children. I only know that I can no longer attempt to run from it. I must stand where God has placed me and trust that He is big enough to overcome the obstacles I face daily. Because I'm good at what I do but I am not perfect. I fail daily. I let people down and sometimes say the wrong thing. I struggle with how to be enough for everyone and how to ensure that the children I see throughout the week know that they are fiercely loved. And I can do it all well enough, I suppose. But I can't spark any changes without The One who first changed me.

I started reading the book Love Does a few weeks ago, and I'm a little over halfway through it. With every page I turn, I see the faces of the kids and I am reminded that love does. It does things for those who receive the love. It causes those who give love to do things. I want to be someone who does.

We've talked about fostering for years - my husband and I. We know the need. For much of the time I spent working as a social worker, he spent years working one-on-one with children trapped inside aspergers and autism. He cared for children placed in the hospital due to the intense drama they suffered. He saw all the depravity and hurt that children face and feel when they are not loved well.

And even though we've talked about it, we have not yet taken the steps required to foster. Because we want to be able to give EVERYTHING to any child who comes through our doors, and giving everything, when you know it's likely the child will leave, is absolutely terrifying.

But each and every time I come in contact with a child who benefits even the smallest bit from love and attention, I remember that that fear will be the best fear we have ever experienced. Because it will be a fear we experienced for walking where God has asked us to.

Before we can walk this path, I know there are things I need to work through. Like losing weight and losing all the struggles that have accompanied needing to lose weight. Like learning how to actually let go of control and simply trust in Him. Like asking Him to help me love and then depending on His strength to be the main source of my love and wisdom.
Courageous people feel the same fear everyone else does, they just decide not to live like they’re afraid anymore. --Bob Goff
I don't want to live in any of my fears. I want to break those chains and run freely into the life He has invited us into. I want to show any child who is in foster care that I meet that they are immensely loved. And when, and if, the time is right, I want to also show that love to that child's parents and allow God to use me to fix what was once destroyed.

I can't take in all the children in Oklahoma's foster care system. If I'm approved for the maximum number of children, I could take up to six. If we're in a place where we can, that's what I want to do. Until that time, though, I want to love others and allow God to love me so that I am filled with all that He is so that I can pour out all of His love.

I don't know why God has placed me in this field. Or why I am stirred so deeply by the issue of child abuse. I couldn't tell you why it is I get so angry at people who brush the issue aside or people who talk about the issue but don't really know. All I know is that I love the children I am responsible for just as much as any mother or father could love their child but not as much as my Father in Heaven loves them or me.

All I know that this field right now is thankless but that doesn't really matter. I don't need a pat on the back or a day dedicated to my field. I simply need to see one smile and know I did something good at least once and remember God is working through me.

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