I Could Never Do That
This line makes for a great excuse. It’s subtle, and a powerful means of keeping our distance from problems, pain, and even people. If we could “do that”—take a risk, help a child, stand up for someone in a vulnerable spot—we’d have a problem. For if we can, perhaps we should, and “doing that” opens up our hearts, our homes, our schedules, our finances–our treasures—to the unknown. And, it’s an invitation to share with those who are un-known.
I think this may be why God’s plan in Psalm 68:6 is to ”set the lonely in families.” Have you ever attempted to ignore an up-close family member? Yes, with enough practice it’s possible, but ignoring a family member causes problems and pain. They and their needs are hardwired into our hearts and looking away is as about as easy laughing without smiling. What parent has not thought, “I’d take a bullet to save my child.” For our “close ones,” our family, we’ll expend everything.
When I grieve the masses of individuals, particularly children, who don’t have families, I wonder, “How do we make them belong to someone?” “How do we forge a family?” In a family, we’d recognize their crushing solitude – we’d fight against both the physical atrophy and spiritual apathy caused by isolation which leaves the vulnerable hopeless. We would recognize the angry overreaction of a child for what it truly is, fear that what little they have will once again be taken away. We’d truly see the 150,000,000 children considered orphans in the world and we’d know at least 1 by name – because in families, people, problems and pain are known.
Particularly, with regard to foster parenting, the mantra of “I could never do that” is a regular occurrence. In the moments we allow our hearts to linger on an invitation from God to take a big risk--like opening our home to a child who is experiencing trauma or loss —our interest in helping is overwritten by a fervent assertion of inability and impossibility! We say, “I could never do that!” We misdiagnose our ailment as “inability” when more often it comes down to the strength of our will and desire. (Who knew that when our first grade teacher first corrected us for saying, “Can I go to the restroom?” requiring we say, “May I go to the restroom?” she was teaching us something profound.) Ask any foster parent; rarely will a friend or stranger look them in the eye and simply say, “Fostering? I do not want to do that.”
Honesty is required; to name our fear and influence our will. If we acknowledge what we will not do, then we can begin to ponder what we are willing to do. And, the choices to foster, adopt, invite a widow, welcome a refugee, or help out a homeless person can become simpler. Should you adopt, foster, respite, etc? I don’t know. God does; it is His promise to “set the lonely in families.” Ask Him, and my guess is there will be a move toward one vulnerable soul that you would willingly take today.
So we return to the question – how to make those who are un-known part of a family? The answer is refreshingly simple. Make that move.
Deliver a meal, babysit and play games, make eye contact and simply say hello, be fully present instead of rushing about, pick up the phone, write a note, etc. Step out, invite in – taking one step closer toward being “family” for one who has none.
Great things start small—even families. I think this is why one translation of James 1:27 tells us to “visit widows and orphans in their need.” Certainly we can, as other translations include, “care for, look after, or assist” but in this translation, it begins with a visit. So often, we are intimidated by the perceived magnitude of a commitment and do nothing - wearing “inability” as a disguise. “I will do that’” starts with a visit.
This blog itself is just one small step toward a visit. For the readers and writers alike, this bit of engagement may nurture willingness and desire to move toward people in need. Perhaps for a reader, an awareness gained today can be the first ”I can. I will do that!” step in an adoption journey.
The first step is the hardest, the simplest, and it changes everything. Not sure where to begin? Ask God to show you the first step or the next step – prepare to take it when He does! Promise686 was developed with this idea in mind, to create many small steps toward the lonely, believing that God will call many to invite them into their families. One at a time.