21 Nov

A Gentle Answer

“They probably don’t want parents by their age anyway, right?”

The question hung in the air between us.

I didn’t know her. She didn’t know me. We were engaged in a rather superficial conversation about foster care.

And then this question just hung there.

My mind was racing…screaming…WHAT?!?!!?

My heart knew this was one of those moments…to change the world with a gentle answer.

I smiled at her and swallowed, hard.

“Everyone wants a place to belong. Someone to want them….to need them…to protect them…to call them mine…a family. I don’t think that ever changes.”

I had more to say. I was ready to educate her. But I bit my lip and just stood there.

The awkward silence seemed unbearable…all twenty seconds of it.

She didn’t move.

I didn’t move.

She didn’t say anything.

I didn’t say anything else.

She smiled, and whispered, “I had never thought of that.”

If I had met her question with anger or frustration. If I had been rude or ignored her. The door would have slammed shut between us, but it didn’t…. We talked about foster care…our family and her and her friend for more than half an hour. Why we want to become foster parents; the kids that are waiting and the trauma they’ve been through; what the process looks likes (NOT the Lifetime movie of the week version); and just how big the need is.

It made me think of Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” This was not the first time (or nearly the last) that people express their opinions about foster care, the children we are waiting for, or the “system” itself. Sometimes I agree with them, but often I want to grab their words in the air and bonk them over the head with them.

But, God is teaching me in this season of waiting.

Those opinions…those moments when those words hang out there….that is a chance to change the world. I have NO idea what people do with the information or love we share when we talk about foster care. Some might forget before they walk away, some might be able to look at foster care differently tomorrow, and maybe once in a while we are just watering a seed that God has planted in their hearts. I don’t know.

But I do know that bonking them over the head or getting all uppity about why I think their opinions are wrong won’t open a door to understanding. Won’t have the potential to change a heart…a life.

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{photo courtesy of Creation Swap}

I’m not naive. I know when God blesses our family again we will face opinions and judgement aimed at the child we choose to open our home to. There will be words said sometimes that seem cruel or misplaced and I know that there is a mother bear alive and well in my soul. Come after my cubs…and…well….. There will be times that I can’t stop to change opinions or fight ignorance, but there will be times I can…if I choose to.

And I pray that I do.

That I see these people God brings across our path not as people to be avoided or ignore (“oh just ignore them”) but people we can reach out to, share a slice of our story with, and water along the way.

A gentle word doesn’t just turn away wrath it can spark a friendship. There are people praying for our family who I don’t know…not their names or their details…but they are PRAYING for our family because we shared a tidbit of our story. They choose to kneel before the throne of the King of Kings on our behalf becuase we showed them truth laced with kindness. There are people praying our someday child through trauma that no mama heart wants to picture, because we didn’t ignore them we embraced them.

….a gentle words turns away wrath… and that can change the world.

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