Let’s see if I can remember how to do this. It has been a while since I’ve published a post.
If you follow our journey on Instagram you know that we are 236 days into fostering a sibling group of three. We also have five kids of our own. That means that we are just missing ages 1, 4, 5, 7, 11 & 12 and we would have every single age (from 14 down) in our home. It’s a lot. I know.
My husband and I didn’t dream of having a big family. Our hearts just got thrown for a loop when we read the verses in the Bible that say, care for orphans and those in need, and then we prayed about it. That was our first mistake. What do you want us to do, God? That is when we felt called to open up our home and do foster care. We don’t have any super powers. I promise. Although Sam does have a mean tornado kick.
I tell you all of this for context because of a BIG lesson that I learned over these past two weeks. I think this lesson could span numerous situations and difficult things that people are going through. I think it could also shed some insight into “the church” and offenses that people can experience from “the church”…bitterness, resentment, offense, you name it.
Did you know that in the Bible “the church” isn’t referencing a building at all? It is actually talking about a group of people who love God and follow what He does. Perhaps you are going through something really tough or difficult and you know that God loves you, but you’ve wondered…What about the church? Do they care…do they love me?
For the past two weeks Sam has been traveling for work. He returns tomorrow. It is the first time that he has traveled for this long of a period while we have been doing foster care. No amount of planning could have prepared me for all of the abnormal things that happened during these past two weeks…on top of all of my normal responsibilities plus carrying Sam’s load at home. It was all just way too much.
I should also probably mention at this point that my husband is a Pastor. And yes, by default, that makes me a Pastor’s wife. Although I prefer to just be known as, Sarah.
It had been announced at our church that Sam would be traveling for two weeks. I didn’t expect anyone to be responsible for our family. However, I guess I did assume that the church would put two and two together and realize that Sarah (parenting eight kids on her own with all of the various extra dynamics that foster care brings) is just plain crazy. I guess I did assume that they would know that I couldn’t do this on my own.
That was my first mistake. I assumed people knew that I couldn’t do it alone.
Our Community Life Pastor called me on the phone and asked, “What do you need?” My reply, “I can barely think about what is happening between now and dinner time.” We agreed that I would let her know if I needed anything and get back to her. The only problem was that I was already in fight or flight mode and we were only three days in. I couldn’t think straight, my brain was completely foggy, and I honestly couldn’t even tell you what I needed. I just knew that I needed help.
I didn’t want to impose on people. People are busy. They have a life as well. I then went all into American independence mode. “I can do this myself!” “I said yes to fostering a sibling group of three. I will do it on MY OWN!”
Pride is a nasty little thing.
Then there was one strong emotion that eventually came steaming out: I was MAD! I was mad that everyone must be assuming that I could do this alone. That I was strong enough to manage this all by myself. Pretty quickly bitterness and resentment followed.
Then pride showed up again, “Well, I’m NOT going to ASK for help. And if someone offers to help I am just going to say, NO!”
That was my second mistake. I didn’t ask for help.
I did mention being mad on Instagram. I also didn’t show up for church (in the building) on Sunday because of how impossible the entire weekend had been.
At one point I was re-reading over and over the verse in Galatians that says, “And let us not grow weary of doing good…” The end of the verse says, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (AKA: “the church”)
What followed changed my perspective completely.
I received a phone call.
“My wife and I would like to bring over pizza tonight and hangout. What time should we stop by?”
I quickly responded, “Thank you, 5:30 works great!”
Another offer came in, “Hi Sarah, Would you like me to watch the two littles today or tomorrow? I can also help with laundry if that is an overwhelming chore. Cleaning and cooking not so much my thing.” I LOVED that! Side note: For those of us who grew up in the church and thought that signing up to bring people a meal was the only way to help (even when you hate cooking), DON’T DO IT! Offer to help in a way that brings you joy!
“Can we drive the kids to school one morning this week?”
“I’m making some soup and homemade bread. Can I bring it over sometime?”
“We are free next weekend too, if he wants to come over again and play.”
Left and right people started offering specific ways that they could help and I didn’t have to come up with more than a simple “Yes!”
In two weeks time I saw exactly how quickly it was to feel an array of emotions towards the church. However, the overall resounding feeling was I LOVE the church…I love my church. If anyone thinks for a second that I survived eight kids for 15 days, all by myself, think again! The church showed up! I also learned some important things this week….
- Don’t assume that people know that you need help. (The church can’t read my mind.)
- Ask for help. (No matter how much my pride might get in the way.)
- Then watch the church do their thing…their beautiful, amazing, wonderful THING!
Maybe you have never thought of yourself as “the church” before, but God has given you talents and resources and ideas to encourage and love people. Be YOU! Be the church.
What can you specifically offer to someone in need? It matters!