Can I be completely honest? I ask because there's always that part of me that doesn't feel quite right with opening up. And I ask because I need to remind myself that it's okay to be open and honest with things.
The past few months have been incredibly hard for me. I've heard it said that becoming a foster parent forces you to realize the things you both like and dislike about yourself the most. I can attest to just how true of a statement this is. And even though we're not currently fostering, we're still foster parents, and I can tell you that I continue to realize just how much there is for me to work on.
There's a huge push in Oklahoma for more foster parents. The number of children in state custody is outrageous, and there are not enough beds for any of them. Not only that but there are over 300 children simply waiting for an adoptive home, 300 children hoping someone will want them and call them theirs.
And it's good. It's good that so many want more to foster. It's good that the Church is rising up. It's good that there's talk of how non-foster parents can support those who are called to foster.
But foster care is hard. When you open up your home, you also open up your life. And not just the present moments and the future moments, but the past as well. A past that you, as the foster parent, have to have dealt with at some level. A past that has made you who you are. A past that may be vastly different, or eerily similar, to the children placed in your care.
You also realize just how much you need people. I'd guess that it's the same for biological parents and adoptive parents.
I don't like needing people. Sure I enjoy friendships and laughter. I enjoy deep, heartfelt conversations. But I don't like having to open up my life in such a way that when I call I have to do so to ask for help. It eats at me and sticks with me for weeks. Or it used to. I can't say I actually enjoy those calls now, but I'm more okay with them than I ever really thought I would be.
I need to be healthy, too. That's why the 7 Challenge is so important to me right now. I've lost weight since starting it on Tuesday. And I feel better. I also feel like I'm starting to get more clarity. Amazing how that works.
I don't think I've necessarily been completely unhealthy during our journey with foster care. I just don't think I was fully prepared. But I also don't think anyone can ever be fully prepared.
We've been talking a lot about when we'll start fostering again. We've discussed ages, numbers of kids, and how it will effect our lives. And y'all, I'm ready. But I am also terrified. Not because of the thought that they may leave (that's not under my control so I just have to trust that God always knows best). And not because of how exhausting it will be. It's a terror that stems from one simple thought (or not so simple thought): what if I'm not good enough?
That's where this sudden need to simplify comes into place. It strips me of all the items I've found identity in. It strips me of all the preconceived notions I have about how life is supposed to be. 7 is helping me to focus on now. To focus on who I am in Christ and to let who I am in Christ be who I am always.
7 isn't easy. Neither is foster care. None of it is. But that doesn't mean it isn't still worth it.