Tim and I have a little inside joke. He often asks me to look at stuff as we are driving down the road and often I can’t see what he is pointing out. In the past this frustrated him and he would point again and tell me it is right, there. I’d get angry and explain that all I can see “right there” is the visor and in my oh so loving and kind way (sarcastic font) explain the thing called P-E-R-S-P-E-C-T-I-V-E like I was talking to a four year old. Now, after two and a half decades of this little vignette played out time and time again in our travels together, all I have to do is say “perspective” and he gets it. He also turns the table on me quite often with the one word response. It works.
As you readers of my verbal diatribes know, we are living out a calling to be foster parents. When I first realized that I was going to get to live out God’s call I couldn’t talk about it without grateful tears. I know so many people feel called to do something but just can’t make it happen. God worked it out perfectly so that we were in a position where I could quit my career and focus on establishing our home as a haven for foster children. That gift still floors me. For so many years I knew this was what I was supposed to be doing but it was always right after; right after I got the next promotion, right after we paid off the truck, right after we went on the next big vacation. But all those right afters were removed and we are living in the right now of serving as God has called.
You hear all the time that God’s timing is perfect. It is. But it isn’t easy. The time was perfect for me to leave a job that had been very rewarding. The time was perfect to get certified as foster parents in Georgia. Then the timing was perfect for both of us to seek and get jobs and return to the city we love but had to leave 20 years ago due to family needs. The timing was perfect for our Macon house to sell quickly. In all this I can clearly see God’s hand at work and am humbled that He would do all this and so much more than I could ever imagine. But it isn’t easy.
In the process we have had family members vilify us and say horrible, mean and nasty things to us and about us. We have been put on “prayer lists” at Macon churches and accused of being demonic. I am quite certain in certain circles we are painted as horrible, selfish people who abandon family in need. And truthfully, that makes me red neck mad. Like trailer park, fighting in the dirt and snatching someone bald headed mad. How dare they? Who do they think they are? Really, their needs are greater than the children and families we are serving?
As I was stewing about the latest round of insults and accusations filtered down at us, I am reminded that their perspective is different. They can’t see this the way we see it. They aren’t living out our lives. They truthfully are on the very edges of what our lives are now. We have to protect the kids we are parenting and that means keeping them safe from harmful words from well-meaning family.
As a newbie foster parent, I have sought out lots of wisdom from those who have walked this path before and are currently long time travelers on the road of parenting children of trauma. One of the wisest thing I have read is that as foster parents who believe we are called by God to do this thing we have to understand that even those that love us and support us do not share our calling. It is a hard thing for extended family to accept and love these kids knowing that they will not be with our family long term and there will be loss when they go back to their parents or to their new forever families. Yes we are willing to open our hearts to the hurt. Yes we will get too attached. Yes we will grieve and be devastated for our loss but we signed up for this. Our family did not. Their perspective is different and I may point over and over again to the shining light I see in this whole thing but all they can see is the visor.
Being an accountant and all around numbers nerd I had to do the math about this conversation that got me so fired up I penned a blog post about it and as embarrassing as it sounds, posted on Facebook (now deleted). The percentage of detractors we have in our very large family, 6%. Really, just six percent have opined a less that supportive position on what Tim and Lisa are doing. That means 94% of our family either approves, are wise enough to keep their mouths shut or could care less one way or the other. That is an A. My need for perfection needs to stifle itself and accept the A and keep moving. My perspective will remain where it is, focused on what God has so graciously given me; the Isaiah 53 promise.
Perspective people, perspective.