“David, what do you recommend people like us do?”
“People like you can create and participate in abolitionist clubs, create fundraisers, and spread information to peers about what’s happening around the world.” They looked so surprised, thinking about some tangible way to help people while in college. I don’t blame them for the surprise, and honestly, the push of a Savior I received to do what I do was much larger than the push this guy was giving my friends. Don’t get me wrong, he spoke powerfully, but not quite as powerful as God.
It had been a while, so I spoke up. “David, do you have a place to stay tonight?”
“Shoot, yeah, you’re right, I should get hotel shopping before the show later.”
“I was just going to say that I had an extra room in my apartment, if you wanted to stay with me for the night. It’s empty until my foster child moves in with me.” Instant regret. I stepped on the landmine.
“You’re only twenty-one, and you’re housing a foster child? Guys, this is exactly what you can be doing right now!” His face shifted from the dark, informative persona he gave off while sharing about his mission to a confounded, slap-happy expression. “Taking a child out of a bad situation to give him a house and a God-serving role-model! That’s so amazing, I might just take you up on that!”
He didn’t stay with me, but I do still think about the embarrassment associated with that moment. I got to experience many of my friends be told by the lead singer of a Christian band, whose sole purpose is to take the proceeds to fund their trips to steal girls trapped in sex slavery, that I was doing it right. Furthermore, by simple association, he told them because I was doing it right, they were doing it wrong.
There’s so much to unpack within this scenario that makes me so uncomfortable. First off, by speaking of this on public forum, I may as well make clear that the Spirit has moved me towards becoming a foster parent for a sixteen year old boy in the Winona area. The process of making this a reality has not been easy due to government slowness, and several people I have been close with wanting to make sure I was “focusing on myself (financially) before taking on the role of a parent.” This is uncomfortable, though not wrong, to make public for reasons that will hopefully be explained in the next few paragraphs.
Back to the embarrassment. Remember David, the singer of the band who told my friends that they suck at helping the world? Me neither. It only seemed that way to me, I’m sure. I’d like to believe my choice to follow what God wants for me, at this point in my life, never is seen as a reference point for others trying to seek out what God has for them. The further we delve down this logic of my obedience being better than the obedience of the student simply told to be a student, the more we seek to unravel God’s purpose for our individuality and personal plan for our lives. I haven’t been asked to babysit the pastor’s kids, being an over-six-foot-tall male with facial hair, but God bless those who do what I cannot. I have a personal interest and desire to use my writing to reach others, but I am fully aware that my speaking skills would never hold up for a congregation. I believe God has work He wants done in my mind and heart before my leadership-based pride is further pummelled.
Hopefully this isn’t sounding like my thesis statement is, different people do different things, but that a “quantifiable accomplishment” such as foster parenthood shouldn’t be taken as a trophy of Godliness desired to be reached by others. And to the friends who were being talked to by David, if you’re reading this, you don’t suck at answering what God has for you.
Hear me out. I desperately desire for more folks like myself to take up the call to be foster parents. There is a need, and I’m sure that if I’m capable of answering, so are many, many people. It’s just that the need for people to listen to what God wants of them outweighs my desire.
I hate to think about how easy it was for me to decide to do this, knowing how hard it would be for others. That makes me uncomfortable, too. This whole post seems like a humblebrag to the highest degree, but I so badly want people to understand how little of myself was involved in the process. When I was prompted with the facts of there being a boy in the area who needed a place to live for fear of having to be shipped out of the state and give up all that he had, I did nothing.
I had no say in the process. I sat in silence, next to the person who displayed the information to me for about ten minutes, blankly staring out the window as I drove. After that time, without any thought for, against, or in conscience of what all it may mean for my future, I managed out that I thought I needed to be a foster parent for him. I met him that night, and as I write this, I am less than two weeks out from him moving into the apartment I leased in order to house him.
I spent hours afterwards calling friends, asking them whether I sounded crazy. Some said yes, but most only spoke of how crazy we usually end up looking when we let the Spirit make our decisions. God took an insecure, twenty one year old kid in college, who drives a school bus for a living, and told him that it was time he took on a teenager to house for the next few years. Truly, the thing that makes me most uncomfortable is how uncomfortable I am. I shouldn’t be. I was once told that “comfortability is the enemy of relevance,” during one of the only chapel sessions at Crossroads College that stuck with me. It sank in because it wasn’t a plea to be a pastor, to lead worship, to house orphans, to be a missionary, a mother, father, or foster parent. It tells us to be uncomfortable with being comfortable with where we’re at; a place which I had just recently entered prior to taking on this venture.
I won’t go to say that being in a continuous state of uncomfortability throughout life is where we’re supposed to be. Routines aren’t evil, and being confident is also where we’re called to be; but I extol that God is always being allowed to push us to do more than what we are comfortable with. It’s hard to be a college student in many regards, but it’s even harder to say yes to the paths God wants to lead us down. My “yes” wasn’t a sign of my unwavering surrender to Christ, but it has taught me that being uncomfortable with what God wants of me is the only place I’m comfortable.