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From a Confused Foster Parent

By July 19, 2021Blog
Tug of war is an interesting game—2 players jostling back and forth desperate to pull the middle flag over the threshold which declares them the victor. It’s a game of vying for control. Giving up is not an option if you want the win. You must be focused on your side, on pulling harder.
This past week, I watched as two teams stepped up to the rope. Red versus blue. More than 50 teenage girls on both sides. They were ready to go hard as the starting, “Go!” was yelled out.
And they pulled.
Either team could have walked away as the winner with one team gaining an edge and then the other making a surge and vice versa. It was a battle of persistence and endurance.
In a burst of strength, both teams pulled again, but this time, a different result occurred.
Rather than seeing victory, both teams ended up on the ground still holding their end of the rope, yet the rope was no longer connected. The thick sturdy rope completely split from the tension generated by the two sides pulling so hard and so fast at the exact same time.
After all of that, no one won. Neither side walked away satisfied, both grumbled with the outcome and felt slighted. Neither side got what they were fighting so hard for.
That’s a bummer ending in tug of war, and that’s a bummer ending in a foster care case.
I don’t want that ending to our story.
We’ve passed the two-year mark in our foster care case: two years of navigating goal changes and uncertainty. As foster parents, we’ve attached, released, prepared to say goodbye, and stayed when goodbye didn’t come. We continue to wait for permanency, preparing again for goodbye.
The opportunities to pick up a side of the rope and start pulling have been tempting.
At times, I’ve felt like I’m part of a team, invited into the conversation concerning the observations I’ve witnessed as being a primary caretaker. I’ve felt tossed around and unheard at other moments. At times I’ve felt like the only one who saw the case from the perspective of the children.
And I have been confused a lot.
Foster care is confusing. For everyone. Real lives are messy and don’t easily move through a linear uphill trajectory.
So, where do we go from there? What do we do with confusion?
Picking up the rope and starting to pull is an option. I’d argue it doesn’t often bring clarity, though. Confusion remains, and anger, hurt, and bitterness take root alongside of it.
The book of Habakkuk offers us another option.
Habakkuk starts with a complaint to God about his present circumstances:
O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.
Habakkuk 1:2-4
Why would God allow this to happen? Does He not see the distress it’s causing? Clearly, Habakkuk is confused by what God is up to, and he admits it to Him. I think we can learn from that.
Admit that you are confused. Tell God, through your prayer, that you don’t understand what’s happening.
God is real in his response, just as Habakkuk is honest in his confusion:
Look among the nations and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.
– Habakkuk 1:5
God does not give Habakkuk the answer he’s looking for. He does not share all of the details as to why He’s choosing to use the circumstances Habakkuk is confused about. Instead, He says something different: Trust me. Look around, be astounded. You don’t have to have it all figured out. I promise that I do.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
– Isaiah 55:9
We, too, must trust in the character of God in the midst of our confusion. Clarity might not come this side of heaven. Our God remains true to who He is: trustworthy. He is for us. He is holy—both good and perfect—in all of His ways.
I appreciate that Habakkuk offers a second complaint after the Lord’s answer. Rarely is my heart and attitude changed quickly. More often, I have additional questions. And the Lord is patient with him in his confusion about why He has chosen to use lessthanideal circumstances to accomplish His purposes. God reminds him of where his focus should be:
the righteous shall live by his faith…
Habakkuk 2:4
God is calling him to live by faith. Again and again, with incredible patience, God says, “Trust me.
If you are struggling with your foster care journey today and you are wondering why God isn’t intervening, the book of Habakkuk is for you.
First, admit your confusion.
Second, trust in God’s character.
Continue handing over to God your frustrations instead of picking up the rope and pulling.
I promise that God sees you. And I promise He has not left. 

Holly Gnuse

Holly grew up with a heart for adoption but didn’t know much about foster care. God used an internship with a local child welfare agency to make her aware. Coupling that experience with knowing the joy of the Gospel, Holly is passionate about connecting the local church to the foster care community. Holly and her husband, Scott, were married in December 2013 and are enjoying the crazy adventure of life together.

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