Foster parents everywhere get discouraged often. That is the reality of working within a broken system in a broken world with broken people. What can you do to defeat discouragement in foster parenting?
Maybe something has happened in your child’s case where you feel like giving up. Give up hope, give up caring, give up trying.
Often foster parenting can throw things at you that make you feel down and sad. Overwhelmed and burdened. Your child’s history and future can feel very heavy. Their life is usually much harder than yours every has been or ever will be. And you hold all that heaviness in your heart and it can be very discouraging.
Well I know your heart if you are a foster parent and beneath all that discouragement there is a fighters heart. You want to champion on these kids. So how do we defeat discouragement in foster parenting?
We have to strengthen our mind and change our thoughts.
God loves you and God loves this child more than you ever could. God is love. Rest in that. Here are some verses to meditate on.
Psalm 34:17-19 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
Psalm 55:22 Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit
the righteous to be moved.
Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Remember to focus on God’s Grace, God’s Mercy, God’s love. Stop focusing on the hard and focus on the positives. Focus on how you can help, the improvement the families are making, the smile that comes back to a child’s lips after trauma. Relish in those positive moments, you need to, in order to get through the hard stuff.
Lower Your Expectations
I know, I know. You got into fostering with high hopes off creating huge impact and you are absoloutely doing that in everything you do but there is so much you cannot control. You need to live within the limitations of what the system is. When we have high expectations of a social worker or judge’s decision or of a bio parent making the necessary changed we often get discouraged. Defeated. It’s not the choice we would have made or how we would have handled things. So lower your expectations. This does not mean, do not fight or advocate for the child’s best interests. But realize there are parameters and things you will never be able to control and expect that you will be disappointed along the way. Lower your expectations of every moment being full of hope and healing and miracles. Expect darkness, defeat and say a prayer and continue fighting the good fight.
2 Corinthians 4: 8-9 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
This isn’t about you.
Often we get offended because of something a bio parent says about how we parent or we get mad that the judge delayed a decision yet again. And you are thinking ughh another 3 months of not being able to plan our family vacation, just make the decision already.
Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.
Use your Pain to Help Others.
This is exactly why I share about foster care on my blog. I know this journey is full of discouragement. I want to encourage others in my shoes. It is for the kids and for the glory of God that I am a foster parent. When my world felt like it was collapsing a little over a year ago with a decision made in our case I needed someone to encourage me. So I want to do that for others. As foster parents we often go through pain for the sake of these kids. Don’t get defeated our discouraged and know your pain is for their purpose.
Phillipians 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
I know many foster parents feel called to care for these kids. It is certainly the case for me. I have never felt more purpose in my life than when I set my comforts aside and stepped into this broken world. We are not getting into heaven by the acts we do but we should be recognized as Christ followers and displaying the gospel in our actions not only our words. Things are going to get tough along this journey. Keep your eyes focused on eternity. We only get a little bit of time here on earth. God is going to see every child you helped, every time you welcomed “the least of these”
Galations 6:9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Rest and Renewal
I once heard my favorite speaker Jason Johnson talk about ministry being like crossfit or HIIT not a marathon or a sprint. I love this analogy. Often ministry has been referred to like a marathon and how do so many marathon runners cross the finish line? With blistered and broken toes, mental and physical exhaustion. God doesn’t want us crossing the finish line completely broken, exhausted, joyless, defeated, discouraged. Nor does he want us to put in a sprint and have some success in ministry, then call it a day. Rest and Renewal are so important. Periods of intense serving with periods of rest. Which is one reason I think it is important to take breaks in between placements. To use regular respite and to have a support system. You need rest and renewal to finishlife well. Go hard then rest.
Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.