[In recent weeks, we have gotten news from three different foster families that we know that young children who have been with them for years will soon be leaving to go to their biological families. This is a letter written to them, stemming from our similar experiences.]
Dear Foster Mama,
A few weeks ago, Esther came up to me out of the blue and announced."Mommy, did you know that if your heart is broken, God wraps it up in his love?" Her words were precious to me, as they were a great reminder of one of my favorite promises in the Bible.
"The Lord binds up the brokenness of his people and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow." Isaiah 30:26
"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor,
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound." Isaiah 61:1
First, let me say that I am encouraged by your willingness to put yourself out there for your heart to get broken. So many people have said to me things like, "I could never be a foster parent, I would be too sad when the kids leave." As if those of us who are foster parents are some kind of ogres who could care less about saying goodbye. No, mama, I know your heart. What sets you apart is not your hard heart that is incapable of being broken, but willingness to trust God with your grief.
In the midst of your grief, preach to your heart, as the Psalmist did:
"Why are you cast down, O my soul. and why are you at turmoil within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God." Psalm 42:11
When you are tempted to despair, preach to your soul to hope in God. Remember Isaiah 30:26 (above) that your wounds are inflicted by God's blow (see also Lamentations 3:38) but that he is also the one who will bind them up. God knew long ago, before you were even born, that he would lead you to be a foster mama and that he would cause the grief of you saying goodbye to your precious little ones. He promises that he will do good things through your grief (Romans 8:28), so preach to your heart to trust him for the good results and pray regularly that he will bind up your broken heart.
We live in America, where the common belief is that life should be mostly good with short periods of hardship here and there. The Bible paints a much different picture. The Bible says that as believers, if we are living the way that the Bible commands, specifically if we, as sinful people, minister to others, who are also very sinful, that our life will be mostly difficult, but he promises periods of refreshment here and there until we reach our final Rest. You are taking literally the Biblical command to care for orphans, and your heart is being broken. Fight hard to trust God that he will:
"grant to those who mourn in Zion-
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit,
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified" Isaiah 61:3
God will give you beauty, gladness, the ability to praise him and a firmer foundation on him as a result of your mourning. And even better, he will be glorified throughout it all.
And though the grief consumes your life at the moment, one day it will be almost nothing, in light of eternity.
"Therefore, having this ministry [of foster parenting!] by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart...
For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory that far surpasses them all, as we look not to things that are seen but things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are temporary, and the things that are unseen are eternal." 1 Corinthians 4:1,15-16
Another foster mama
[Click here to see a letter I wrote to Esther after one of her foster sisters left]