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Time Is Short: What to Do Before the Goodbye

By March 19, 2020August 19th, 2020Blog

Foster care comes with so much hard. Can I get an amen to that, my foster parent friends?!

It’s weird, frustrating, and awkward at times. I feel like a parent right now, although, at times, I FEEL the restrictions. Yet, here I am in the middle of trying to figure out how to do life with a three-year-old who doesn’t want to go potty on the toilet and who craves both independence and a cuddly embrace but doesn’t quite know how to make sense of how to express the two. I’m finding myself talking to other parents about typical parenting things—far different from my conversations just a year ago.

For all its mess, this journey has impressed upon incredible lessons—but one continues to be at the forefront of my thoughts these days:

Tomorrow is not promised to us.

It’s true for all of us as parents—foster parents and biological parents alike. We do not know what tomorrow will hold for us and the kiddos in our care.

And while it’s true for all of us parents, for us as foster parents, that truth makes itself painfully known on certain days and particular times. With little or no notice, our kiddos could be out the door and continuing on their journey without us. Thinking of this day puts me into shambles.

I will celebrate with my sweet girl and her mom when that day comes. But equally, my heart will be breaking into a million pieces because the love I have for the one I now get the privilege of calling daughter is so big and cannot accurately be put into words. As I often tell her, “I love you forever and ever!”

I want her to know how much she is cherished and loved even though she is not living with anyone she is biologically related to right now. I want her to know that while I love her fiercely.

As foster parents, we are acutely aware that our time with our little ones is fleeting. We think about the goodbye as we say hello. The time, or lack thereof, is never lost on us.

When we start processing that tomorrow—when our little (or big) ones could leave us—we start frantically processing so many things. Or at least I do. My mind races with questions:

  • Will she be okay where she is going?
  • What items and clothes do I send with her?
  • Will I ever see her again?
  • What will her future hold? She wanted to be a doctor—will she actually become one?
  • Will anyone know her favorite food?

I get caught up in all of the things. I run through scenarios in my head. I grow fearful and panicky.

But, this is where I’m learning the most right now, and leaning into the uncomfortable. I could get stuck in this worry, but then I’m reminded of the beauty of knowing time with my sweet girl is precious.

When I think about time—and lack thereof—my focus shifts in good and needed ways. My questions turn to:

  • Does she know she is loved by God?
  • Does she know that God designed and created her for a specific purpose? Does she know God has a plan for her life?
  • Does she know she can talk to God anytime? Will she remember how to pray?
  • Does she know that we care for others because Jesus has loved us?
  • Will she remember who Jesus is?

Time has a way of drawing out the most important things in our minds. I know that my ultimate hope in Jesus is the same hope she needs today and in her future. Sure, I want her physical needs to be met—don’t hear me say those are insignificant things. I just know that I have limited time, and I have something precious to share.

When I recognize time is limited, I fret less about those things that I can’t control and shift my perspective to reminding my sweet girl of truths that I so want her to know—truths that have the power to change her perspective as well. Above all, I want her to be so clear on who God is and His never-ending love for her.

I think knowing our time is limited, I mean truly KNOWING in a way most people don’t have, we have been given a gift. This inspires us to be intentional while we can be. This motivates us to share more biblical truths to our kids that are quick and easily retainable. This challenges us to live and love as an example of Jesus. This also puts these truths in our own minds, so we don’t get wrapped up in fear of what our children’s futures look like.

No, tomorrow is not promised to us, but I know the One who holds all of our futures.

And as my dear friend Jami has said, “God’s best is my best.” When your child’s journey continues without you or when you’re walking an unexpected road, repeat this truth: “God’s best is my best.”

Try personalizing it: “God’s best is [enter child’s name]’s best.”

This is the truth that you can hold onto. Let it be the motivator to give you peace and to press into any moments you have remaining.

We’re in this together, friend. I’m saying this with you because I need the reminder too!

Jillian Kellenberger

Jillian has a passion for building relationships and loving people well. She desires to see the Church mobilized to support and step into the lives of those affected by foster care. As a foster mom, she is currently relying on donuts, coffee, and JESUS!

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