Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Too involved

This is what a woman said to me recently when she learned I was a foster mother: "I couldn't do it." She took one look at the baby in my arms - a baby who isn't mine but needs me desperately - and shuddered. "My heart would get too involved."

I thought about her words for a long time afterward. They're still running through my mind, actually. Is my heart not involved enough? Is that why I keep saying yes when the state calls me about taking in another child? Is that why the foster care life has not yet broken me? Because I've been able to keep my heart out of it?

My heart would get too involved. The more I think about it, the more I think that woman was on to something. She instinctively knew that if she got involved with a foster child her heart would also, and her heart shied away from that potential pain like a hand being jerked back from a hot stove. A warning rang out in her head: Danger. Danger. Heartache ahead. Don't get involved.

So what does that mean for me? As I write this, I'm snuggling a two-month-old baby whom I've only known a few weeks but already love. But when the woman I talked to made those comments, she implied (unintentionally) that my heart is not that involved. She implied that is the reason I am able to love a baby I know will leave me.

The truth is my heart is way too involved. Too involved to heed the warning of danger. Too involved to protect itself at the expense of a vulnerable child.

I don't mind what this woman said because her statement was honest and a hundred percent true. If she were to foster a child, her heart would get too involved. That's how it works. I can't dispute that. But I can challenge the idea that an involved heart is to be avoided at all costs. Because what in our lives is worthwhile without our hearts being involved?

I can also challenge the idea that you have to be the one to actually take a child into your home for your heart to be involved. There are many other ways. In just the past couple weeks, I have had a friend give a generous amount of money for my foster baby's needs, another friend babysit him on short notice, multiple people volunteer to drive him to one of his many appointments so I could stay home with my other kids, and a whole team of people set up a free dinner for foster families. Other people have purchased items like backpacks for kids in foster care, sewn blankets, and donated formula.

It reminds me of what Jesus said in Matthew 25: "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." If you read the verses before that, you will see he was referring to clothing and feeding and sheltering people. To visiting them in their distress, caring for them in their sickness, and welcoming them in. It's hard to do those things without getting your heart involved.

But what about the danger? The wailing alarm screaming "Heartache ahead!"? Well, that's a good question. A valid question. But I don't have much time to worry about the sacrifices required to foster, the unavoidable pain, the helplessness and frustration. I just don't have time. My heart's too involved in the task at hand. And I'd rather my heart be too involved than not involved at all.


  1. Oh, how I can relate to this story!
    Years ago as we considered our adoption options, we ruled out foster adoption primarily (though not entirely) because I didn't think I could handle the heartbreak of attaching to a child and having to let them go again. I even said as much to our neighbors who were actively fostering an adorable toddler and infant set of siblings. How I admired their emotional fortitude but was certain I didn't have what it took to walk in their shoes. Because our God is wiser than we and loves us too much to leave us where we are, He took my family down a path of international adoption only to wind up facing that very situation when the child who'd grown in our hearts was placed beyond our reach by international political posturing. It led us to reconsider the foster system and we wound up going down a path far too long and complicated to get into here, but suffice to say: We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. Even enduring heartbreak for the sake of those in need.

    1. Wow, Kathleen, thank you for sharing about your journey! We never know how God is going to use our experiences!

  2. "Too involved" makes me cringe. We were called to love others as ourselves, go be the light to the world, not to hide away our love to protect ourselves.

    We will be hurt and hated. But yet we must love. It is our duty and privilege and calling.

    I think it's amazing how you show God's love and hospitality, to have an open heart that beats and bleeds for every child. I believe you will be blessed.


    1. Thanks for commenting, Keturah. I agree that our hearts are not meant only for ourselves. And we know that if we have God's love, we will never run out, no matter how much we give away.