My real job

School started last week.  As a mom you feel such a sense of responsibility for these little people’s lives that have been entrusted to your care – even when they aren’t really “little people,” but also include teenagers towering over you.  You want to carefully craft every detail of their life so that they never feel discouraged, disappointment, sadness, fear, depression, failure, loneliness, or pain.  You feel you know best and no one could possibly care about their future as much as you do.  You feel like it’s all on you to ensure their world keeps spinning and, not only that, but it’s spinning in perfect happiness.  It just takes that big yellow school bus pulling away with your child in it to bring you back to the reality that as a mom, there actually isn’t a lot in this crazy world that is in your control. 

As a foster and adoptive mom, I find that feeling is magnified.  I have taken in this child when no one else in the world would.  I advocated for them; got long overdue medical care; comforted after loss; fed and clothed; sat awake during nightmares; rocked until peaceful sleep came; waited through tantrums; celebrated milestones; dodged fists and flying objects; rejoiced in victories; and held through sobs and disappointment.  I did that.  I tried with everything I had to shield them from the world that had brought them nothing but pain.  I went to court; filled out paperwork; fought for therapies; attended case plan meetings; requested testing; ensured every detail was written down and every legal requirement met.  I did that.  And then you realize that nothing is really in your control.  A case decision will be made, a child moved home, or adopted, or a judge’s decision is overturned. 

So how do you trust that God’s got it? How do you trust He’s in control of that big yellow school bus driving away? How do you trust that He’s holding this precious foster child who has experienced nothing but pain and is being moved to the next place that may or may not be safe? I want to trust God, but everything in me also wants to DO something. After all, it’s my job as a mom to DO something.

Here is where Proverbs 3:5 comes in, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…”  This verse gives me two jobs: (1) trust in the Lord; and (2) don’t lean on my own understanding.  Both of these jobs are required. If I trust in the Lord, I cannot also depend on my own ability to understand everything God is doing.  I have to let that go.  So often I want to just stop after the first part – Trust in the Lord.  I tell God, “I believe in you,” and often pray, “let your will be done.” But I do not take the second step and also let go of my own understanding, wisdom, plans, and schemes. God alone is trustworthy. It just doesn’t work when I try to rely on myself at the same time I’m trusting in Him.

Then I need to take it a step further – not only will I trust in God, I will have joy, hope, and peace while I do that! Here is where Romans 13:15 comes in,  “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  My role is just to trust Him.  As I trust in Him, then it is God’s role to fill me with all joy and peace.  I can’t conjure up the joy and peace, and I certainly can’t do that if I’m leaning on my own understanding of what is happening in life’s churning circumstances.  I have to trust in the God who can do anything.  The God, who created the world, performed miracles, gave His son Jesus, and has proven Himself trustworthy over and over.  He is the God of hope, and as I trust in Him, then I will overflow with hope. Hope in God means certainty.  Hope in the world is just optimism, luck, fingers-crossed, wishing.  Hope in a constant, trustworthy God brings joy and peace. 

So while I tell myself it’s my job as a mom to control everything — my real job is just to trust Him. God’s part is to be God, constant, trustworthy, steadfast, and to fill me with joy and peace.  There is so much about foster care, “the system,” and trauma that seems hopeless, but may we lean into a God of hope and trust Him.  This week, I pray for each of you, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. “Romans 13:15.

-Sarah Oberndorfer

Co-founder, Chair of Board of Directors, foster mom