Recently, I found out a decision was made that would have significant impact upon my next steps forward in ministry. I wasn’t part of the decision making process. I heard the announcement about the decision along with everyone else though it involved an area I’m deeply engaged in. I felt unheard, unseen, and insignificant.
Shouldn’t I have known about this before it was released to the world, given that I now would have a part to play in implementing it?
I wanted to lash out. I wanted to make a list of all the ways my leader had failed. I wanted to talk to them and make them realize their mistakes under the guise of having open communication and helping to bring about positive change for the future.
Foster parent, do you ever feel like that? Have you ever been handed a decision that you want to say, “wait, shouldn’t I have a say in this?” I have valuable thoughts to add before you make these changes in the case. I can offer you insight that you might not have from your vantage point.
As the person who cares for the child each day, you feel like you have a voice that would be helpful. And foster parent, you do! I’m not here to say that you don’t.
Here’s what I learned though from my experience of feeling unappreciated and unimportant:
We have choices to make in terms of how we respond because inevitably, there will be times when a leader or a caseworker or a friend does something that we disagree with.
It’s so tempting to respond from a place of anger and frustration when other people mess up, and we’re left to deal with the fallout. It’s easy to count all of the ways other people fall short. We want to list all of the poor decisions they’ve made and let them know how much they’ve affected us.
But I would encourage you to flip the situation on its head and ask yourself these questions. Would it be helpful to you if someone pointed out all of the ways you messed up? Would you take it well if someone was upset with their circumstances and blamed it all on your missteps? Would that kind of approach change you for the better?
My guess is the answer would be no.
How can you advocate in a way that honors your faith?
As followers of Jesus, we are called to live in grace and to be loving even when loving is difficult. We’re called to give up our own way in exchange for Jesus’ way on a daily basis.
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
In order to follow Jesus, we need to be familiar with the way he handled different circumstances. Jesus faced injustice. He was completely innocent but was still taken prisoner, was beaten, humiliated, and scorned. We can look in the Bible and see everything Jesus faced in his time here on earth, and we can also see his response. In the midst of injustice and pain, Jesus’ response was forgiveness. (Luke 23:34)
Jesus didn’t speak out in anger against us when he was making the ultimate sacrifice on the cross. He didn’t list out all of our sins and blame us for his suffering in hopes of it changing his circumstances. Instead, he prayed, remained patient, clothed himself in grace, and chose mercy. Why? Because he loves us and knew that the way he chose to respond would change us more than guilt and shame ever would.
There is a place for advocating for yourself and for your kids when wrongdoings happen. I’m not telling you to be a pushover or to let it all slide. I’m just asking you to take a moment, step back, breathe, and think about your next move.
We need to speak from a place of love when facing frustration, anger, and injustice. We need to ask God to help us see our situations and the people around us the way he does. Don’t get me wrong; this is really hard work. But this hard work is worth it. This is where our spiritual discipline is strengthened —in individual moments where we have the opportunity to be like Jesus.
Becky enjoys spending time with friends and family, and has a big heart for caring for those around her. With a strong background in office management, Becky loves creating a welcoming environment for all to enjoy. She spends her time outside of work leading at church, and baking pies!
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