God is Pushing Me to Painful Places

See below: Opening Your Hands Prayer Exercise

God is Pushing Me to Painful Places

During one of our initial foster care classes, we were given a checklist of problems that are typical for foster children. We were to check the ones we would be willing to handle if the agency called with a child needing care:

  • Neglect
  • Medical issues
  • Drug exposure
  • Reactive Attachment Disorder
  • Running Away
  • Stealing
  • Hoarding food
  • Violence
  • Encopresis
  • Sexually acting out
  • Starting fires

I remember Mike and I exchanging glances over the piece of paper. We were both thinking of our three little children at home. We handed our list back with only the top 3 checked.

This seemed meager at the time, yet there was also a sense of relief. We will do all we can to help the children of the world, but at least we don’t have to deal with all those big problems at the end of the list. God bless those foster parents who do! Those other issues are too much for us to handle.

A year later, I had accepted a call for emergency placement for a 16 month old girl who had been removed from her home. When the case worker brought her to our house, she arrived with nothing more than the diaper and filthy white onsie she wore. She smelled so strongly of smoke, it was all I could do to bring her little brown body close to me without choking, but I did it anyway, knowing she needed my close touch.

A neighbor had called the police because they heard her crying for hours. The case worker said it appeared this little girl had no significant issues. Yet who knows what else had happened in that sweet baby girl’s life? We don’t know.

That’s exactly it — we don’t know what or who will arrive at our door by God’s design. She needed and I gave, without thought to what the next steps would involve.

This last summer was hell for our family. No other way to say it, really, and no reason to sugar coat it. We are raising 5 children, two boys adopted from foster care, and the special needs we have dealt with have pushed us into painful places that are so far beyond my comfort zone, I can’t even see that comfortable version of me when I look back for it.

I did not want these problems. I did not sign up for these kinds of issues.

I did not check those boxes. Remember, Lord?

God has placed me in a painful situation where I did not want to go.

You might be thinking, well sure, Sara, but you did sign up to be a foster parent, and then you chose to adopt. So, you know, package deal.

Here is what I am learning. No matter your life situation or circumstance, you don’t get to choose.

You are not in control of your life. God is in control.

Let’s say you are a person who prefers things a certain orderly way. You keep to your family and your basic choices. Do you have no problems in your life, and you always get to order the way it goes?

Of course not. So whether you jumped all-in into tough challenges or not, we can all agree each of us has painful life situations that are not of our own choice.

You are not in control of your life. God is in control.

Here is what I want us to do.

Open your hands. Stop whatever you are doing in just a second here and actually physically do this exercise below. Sit at the side of the computer or set down your phone on a hard surface. (If you are driving and reading this then we have bigger issues to discuss.)

I just did this. I am wiping away tears with the back of my hand as I type these words, but they are cleansing, healing tears. Hopeful tears. This is hard stuff, people.

I’ve got pretty major mother guilt going on from some situations that happened with my kids this spring and summer. I have fears about moving forward, too, and how we will protect everyone and be safe and remain in one piece and rise above all this.

I know you might want to virtually pat my hand and say, oh but you are a super mom, Sara. But I’m telling you — these problems are big ones that if I told you, you would say, oh wow and take a step back a bit.

I’ve had guilty simmerings that needed this exercise we are about to do. My guilt is not helping my boys, though, and as long as it lingers, my family won’t heal.

Some of mine is the simmerings that I just didn’t want to admit how much I didn’t want to walk into this place. I wanted control of that checklist.

Open Your Hands Prayer Exercise

Open your hands.

Close your eyes and picture in your hands your life. Especially picture the painful situations where you feel the need to control the most.

Now lift up your hands. Say a prayer and give your life to God. Release control.

Whatever happens with this painful situation, it is His. Give your life as an offering.

When I opened my eyes after praying this prayer, I felt a tremendous lifting of my burden. I will remember what God says:

That people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.

Isaiah 45:6-7

God is Pushing Me to Painful Places