Do what’s right in front of you.
I’ve been thinking about this for awhile. God keeps pressing this phrase into my heart, playing it over and over through my mind. I hear it on the days when I am being pulled in a thousand different directions. I hear it on the days that are too quiet and I am letting myself worry about the future…and the past…and the present. I hear it when I am overwhelmed by the unknowns and intimidated by the knowns. I repeat it like a mantra at 6 o’clock when I’m exhausted and there’s still a thousand things to do.
Do what’s right in front of you…and do it with GUSTO!
Because…you see…if you never get a chance at tomorrow, or that next breath…it will only be the present that really matters.
Slow down. Hold the baby longer than you need to, just to be sure he’s really sleeping peacefully instead of rushing off to the next chore. Stop and get down on your knees to see that Lego house he built, the artwork being shoved into your hands or the ladybug on the ground. Push yourself to get through the laundry folding now, while you have time, so it’s not one more thing driving you crazy in an hour. Take a walk first thing, while the sun is still shining and the table is still covered in cheerios.
Be willing to exert yourself beyond what you think you can muster; for others, yourself, and Jesus Christ.
This is sometimes the way that I survive foster care. Tomorrow may be terrifying. Tomorrow may be painful. Tomorrow may change everything. But right now, there is a diaper that needs changing. There are little hands that need to be held. There are noodles to scoop and smiles to return. Do what’s right in front of you. There is no point wasting this moment because the next one looks so hard you can hardly breathe. This moment is just as important as the next one. The little moments add up to be something valuable.
So many people say to me, “I could never do that. I could never let them go.”
Well…maybe you could. Maybe you could if you realized that these little moments are just as important as the big ones. This child may leave. Your heart may break. You will cry. You might feel like you are of no significance. But somebody still needs to care enough to bake him cookies. Somebody still needs to be willing to put a band aid on her knee. Somebody needs to love them while they’re in between homes. Someone needs to be there at 2 o’clock in the morning, to do the crisis care. Someone needs to stay up all night. Someone needs to be there…today…right now. Maybe tomorrow, he will go back home. Maybe next month, she will move on to an adoptive home, and you will be left behind. Maybe you will get no credit, no gain, no accolades…but somebody still needs to do the now.
I used to always say I wanted to adopt, but that I could never foster because it would hurt too much. Then God reminded me that the kids don’t get to choose. They don’t get to choose the least painful route. They don’t get to decide that it’s too hard for them. They don’t get to evaluate whether they will get any personal gain. It just happens. So I stopped feeling proud when I proclaimed boldly that I just couldn’t let them go…and instead began to feel incredible shame. I was so busy protecting my own heart that I forgot the kids did not have that option. If they were forced into letting go, losing everything they loved, being thrown into unfamiliar homes with unfamiliar people time after time after time…surely I could choose to love despite the pain. Especially when I open my Bible and realize how much pain Jesus suffered, simply because He chose to love me.
Now…I am on the other end.
In two months, my daughters, who I have just met in the past two weeks…will move here, to their new home with us. I am ecstatic. I am absolutely in awe. I have waited a lifetime to be able to love and never let go. Finally I get to be a part of the big picture, the one who gets to see the long term results and reap the long term benefits of parenting. I can’t wait to jump in with two feet!
But you know what?
I am so thankful for the past two years of letting go…again…and again…and again. Because now I can understand that while I am gaining everything, they are losing alongside their gaining. They are losing so much. They are losing a home, friends, family, school, toys and the security they have established where they are.
This does not make me want to change my mind, because they desperately need permanence. They need a Mommy and Daddy that will be theirs forever. But it helps me understand that it is not going to be picture perfect. There are going to be very difficult days. There is going to be fear, and anger and mistrust. I am not always going to feel like this is the happily ever after it was supposed to be.
Now I can understand and appreciate that while I was in training, while I was still walking the journey, someone else was willing to pour out their hearts for my daughters. Someone else was willing to do the little things, day after day. Thank you.
And I hope that in the next few months, with the future looming large and terrifying and exhilarating before me…that I will be able to relax and enjoy the ride 🙂 I don’t want to miss a thing.
Do what’s right in front of you.