“Lord,who am I that you notice me? Yet, you’ve studied me, all my actions and words and thoughts-and you’ve chosen to love and redeem me. Your thoughts towards me are more numerous than the sand! Root out the distrust and anxiety in my heart. Amen.” -Joe Tyrpak
As I look back on 2017 it almost hurts to watch. Like going to a terrible movie and not wanting to leave because you paid for the ticket so instead you just sit there and watch the mess. There were many blessings for sure and I don’t want to be ungrateful for any of those blessings, but 2017 was by far the hardest year of my life. When I read the above quote at bible study months ago at first it frustrated me. I’m pretty sure I grumbled something to God like ” I don’t feel very chosen or loved right now.” My distrust and anxiety was running rampant as we were in the midst of an ugly situation with our foster child. My heart needed/needs rooting out by the loving hands of God.
When I was growing up my family had a large garden. Some of my favorite childhood memories revolve around that garden. In the summer we would leave the house in the mornings and sometimes not come back until the barn light shone over the Michigan summer dusk. My siblings and I loved to explore the acres surrounding our property. Often, our meals consisted of the tomatoes, green beans, snap peas, and indestructible rhubarb plant warm from the sun. Eating from the garden instead of the pantry was the way we all avoided going inside and getting roped into doing chores.
One of my least favorite childhood memories also included that garden. Weeding. Oh I hated weeding it. This chore was frustrating for many reasons. First, it required me to sit mostly still for an extended period of time. Second, my sister and I often weeded together and no matter how hard I tried I could never seem to get my rows as meticulously weed-free as she did. Third, there was this certain kind of viney-ish weed that was almost impossible to fully eradicate. You had to dig your fingers deep into the warm soil to get to just one part of the viney-ish root. But you had to be careful not just just pull it straight up, you had to carefully run your fingers along the root sometimes quite a few inches before you found the big main part of the root. Most of the time it was impossible to find that big main part and the very next day that same weed would be back, green, thriving and choking out the strawberry blooms.
Those were the memories that came to mind when I read the prayer by Joe Tyrpak. “Lord, dig your fingers deep into the warm soil of my heart and uproot the distrust and anxiety.”
When I am struggling particularly hard with anxiety as a foster Mom one of the most comforting exercises is to replace personal pronouns in songs and prayers with those of my foster children. Applying that to the opening prayer it would go something like this: Lord who is he that you notice him? Your thoughts toward him are more numerous than the sand.
As foster parents our lives are front row seats to a world of destruction and brokenness. This world is often very different from our upbringing and thus is very unfamiliar to us. These things combing with having to watch the little ones we love endure the consequences of such a world can be terrifying at times.
I will be frighteningly transparent: This life is shaking my faith to it’s very core.
Each of us experiece isolated events that cause them to wonder, to come down with a case of the “whyGods.” For foster parents these events happen weekly or sometimes even daily. For us it’s usually Tuesday afternoons when the world-wrecking phone calls come.
“Your foster child now has to endure this change…”
“Your life is now also out of your control in this way…”
“Visit is canceled again…just like it has been every week for the past six months.”
“We are taking another child you have fallen completely in love with away, it’s up to you to pick up the pieces of his heart and yours…”
The phone rings or someone knocks at the door: instantly and simultaneously my hands begin to shake, my mouth dries up, and my legs feel weak. (Friends, help a sister out and just send a text for now.) How do you handle the anxiety that comes with a calling to a lifestyle of turmoil? To be honest, I have no idea. I wish I had more answers, I wish I had this under better control in my own life but here is one thing that is working right now.
I personalize God’s character to claim for my children. And for me.
God knows everything about this situation. Yes, it sounds trite but I never realized the depth of that promise before.
God knows everything.
O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you… Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
Nope. Don’t skip the verse part. Go back up and read it. Insert your foster child’s name each time. Insert your name each time.
The word searched in these verses is a mining term. God has gone deep into my heart-mine and explored every tunnel and rock. He knows every tunnel and rock. Just like he knows the hairs on my head. This knowledge not only goes into my cardiac-caves but stretches on into the future. Suddenly the “God knows everything” type phrases don’t seem as trite. I can only see part of this story. I can’t see the end of my story any more than I can see the end of my foster child’s story. I want so badly a “happy ending” for my foster children. I recently heard this quote: “If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” -O. Welles
I can’t see the end, but I believe in this story.
Foster Moms what are your tricks for dealing with the emotions that are this foster life?
This is the book I referenced in the opening quote of the post. I would highly recommend this short devotional!