“Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.” Proverbs 12:25
Anxiety is an unwanted weight that can greet us in the morning, repeats questions during the day, then even meets us in our dreams. It can make us feel like our skin is crawling or make our stomachs turn as we replay every scenario in our mind and ask all the “what-ifs?”
When we have children living in our homes who are worrying about when they can go back to their “real” house, what the plan is and even what their mom is having for dinner we share those same thoughts and worries. We weep when they weep. We want everything to be different for them. We want it all made right.
Foster parenting has been described as an umbrella; a shelter that covers these kids while the storm is raging. We know more about the details of the storm than our kids do. We feel every raindrop, every sting of hail and blast of wind. They feel it too, but are shielded through it. We both wonder when the rain will pass, but we fill that time of waiting with encouragement. Not a false hope that everything is fine or that it's not really raining. We also don’t expect our kids to be thankful for the umbrella. We offer the truth that is necessary and the truth that is lasting.
We are honest about how their case is moving forward with details that are appropriate and we encourage them with the truth of who they are even in the midst of the chaos. We remind them that what others do is not their fault. We confirm their anger and sadness by saying that this is a hard day while always reminding them that tomorrow will be better. We show them that they are loveable and wanted. We teach them that they are worthy of a good life. We tell them that they were known by the One who made them and not a mistake. That they have purpose and God has a plan for their life and that a new story will be written. A kinder story. A safer story. We tell them that they are good.
We don’t offer a harmful fantasy or teach them how to avoid their feelings. We grieve with them and give them true encouragement. The kind that is more about who they are and who God is and less about the situation that is out of their control and ours. We are their shield; an umbrella in the storm. While we encourage them God will encourage us. Like Elija in the storm we will hear God in the whisper. (1 Kings 19:11-13). When we ask if we are strong enough to withstand the wind, how long it will last, and wonder if what we are doing is enough, God will encourage us. He will strengthen us. His shoulders are big enough to carry the weight of our anxiety as well as our kids’ which is why the bible says “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7). We can be encouraged because God is our umbrella in the storm.
Ashley Wambach, President/Executive Director
Originally posted Sept. 28, 2020