Foster Fridays: Lessons of 2018
I struggled in 2018. It was my first full year fostering. It was a year of learning and of growth. I didn’t enjoy everything I learned, but I appreciate every way in which I grew. I learned some hard truths about myself. I learned I’m not very good at handling stress and anger. I learned I try to run from pain quickly, rather than facing and dealing with it.
I didn’t do very well with intentionally seeking personal growth this past year, and I wish I’d done more. Life, however, specifically foster care life, forced me to grow.
I grew more empathetic and less judgemental in 2018. I’ve gained new perspectives on how and why some bio-parents struggle, especially as I’ve experienced new struggles myself. As I mentioned, I learned I tend to run from pain. I started to think about the coping mechanisms I’d be turning to if I’d been abused as a child, or if I’d been around dangerous substances growing up, or if I didn’t have a supportive community as an adult. I looked at some of the bio-parents I’ve met and realized I’d probably be living a life similar to theirs. I’m blessed with loving friends and family who want to help me grow and become better. This is not the case for all. I’m no better than anyone. My job is always to love and never to judge. I have new insight and understanding that I wouldn’t have if I wasn’t fostering.
In 2018, I also started to grow out of my need to control everything. I don’t seek control in the way of wanting to lead or dictate. I attempt to grasp control through having Plan B (C, D, E,) for everything in my life. If I know what’s going to happen next, I feel safe. I don’t like to be surprised. Living in the limbo of foster care, I have no control. There is no Plan B for whatever the state decides about my son. I never know what’s happening next. I don’t feel safe.
I believe God is using foster care to teach me to trust Him. Every time I put my son to bed, I pray some version of the same prayer over him. That whatever’s best for him will pan out. That God will protect him and guard his future. That he’ll grow up to love God and serve people. I have to trust that these things will happen whether or not I’m in the picture.
I’m thankful for the hard lessons of 2018. I trust that they are tools I will be able to use in this new year.