A couple weeks after moving to Hawaii, we began the search for friends in our neighborhood. That’s when we met Mary and Troy. We were immediately captivated by Troy’s magnetic storytelling abilities. He is dynamic and hilarious, and is a former-military man turned stay-at-home dad. Mary and I instantly hit it off when we realized we are both highly sarcastic, have similar laidback parenting attitudes, and share an affinity towards wine. To make a great situation spectacular, they have children the same ages as ours. In so many ways, they are like us – a middle-class military family, financially stable, authentic and compassionate, with two biological children. But something is different. Mary and Troy are foster parents. In addition to their biological children, they also care for two foster boys.
Later that evening Daniel and I came home to recap our first friend-venture. “Do you think you could ever foster a child?” I asked Daniel.
“No way!” He responded. “I don’t know how people do it.”
“I know, right?” I affirmed. “How do you give them back?”
“Or what about our own kids? How would they respond?” Daniel wondered.
“I would be open to adopting, but fostering sounds like a rollercoaster I don’t want to ride,” I responded. “Plus, Mary and Troy seem so normal, they definitely don’t fit the stereotype. I mean that’s great they do it, but I never could.”
It was settled. Kaput. No foster children for the Riches – we could never do it.
If you’ve been following our journey, however, you’ll know that the story didn’t end that night. It would’ve been easier if it did, though. And, if I’m being completely honest, I might have been ok with that. After all, I’ve spent my whole life doing the “easy things” to care for those in need – handing out homeless goody bags, buying lunches for strangers, and writing checks to good causes. I like those activities, the easy ones. They demand a level of generosity that requires little risk on my part, and for the greater part of my life, I have been content with that level of investment.
Unfortunately for me, we met Mary and Troy during a time my heart was aching for intimacy with Jesus and I had begun praying a silly little prayer – “Break my heart for what breaks Yours.” It was a rookie mistake, you know, to pray such a bold prayer when I like doing easy things. I should have known better. I wrote all about the shattering of my heart in this previous post.
But what I didn’t fully explain is how God began to mend my heart after He broke it – how He surgically repaired it by challenging me to step beyond the simple tasks and take on something with greater risk.
This heart surgery took about two months to complete, and every healing stitch came in the form of an answered question – namely the questions Daniel and I asked one another the night we met Mary and Troy.
Maybe you’ve asked these same questions at some point in your life. Maybe you’ve written off serving a foster child because of past assumptions or misconceptions. Or maybe you are simply curious to learn more. Well stick around, friend. In a series of upcoming blog posts, I will be sharing the answers that healed my heart. Together we will tackle one question each day as we consider how we can serve bigger and better – even when (or especially when) it isn’t easy. I hope you will join me!
I am a lover of people, a child of God, and a laugher at jokes. I write words, cry tears and smile at strangers.