Someone from our Foster Care agency posted this video. It’s from 2017, so I’m surprised it hadn’t come across my newsfeed till now. If you can’t watch it, the voiceover says:
We’ve done well in life. With help from our adviser, we made it through many market swings.
Retirement age couple, straightening up the house. They sit at a table when the doorbell rings.
Sure we could travel, take it easy. But we’ve never been the type to just sit back. Not when we have so much more to give.
The scene is obviously a situation of a social worker dropping off a new foster child to their home. Then their title of “Empty Nesters” is crossed out and replaced by “Foster Parents”.
So yeah. Here I am crying at work.
But interestingly enough, it wasn’t so much the twist at the end that got me. I’m actually a little too realistic (cynical?) to think that a foster child would so quickly give a hug with this look of comfort and appreciation. Real life drop-offs don’t always work that smoothly.
Most of ours have not been dramatic, just strangely casual. Like we’re having friends over for a playdate, and no one’s really talking about the elephant in the room. The first night has never been all that emotional.
The part that really got me was the shot at the table.
Here they sit in anticipation. They pour a cup of coffee because what else is there to do? Everything else at this point seems so trivial. You’ve cleaned the house and prepared as much as you could since the call probably came only hours before. But to watch TV is irritating and senseless. You can’t go anywhere. So here we sit like waiting for the doctor to come out of surgery with an update.
They share a glance of mutual understanding that says “We both agreed to do this. Get ready, cause it’s about to happen.” Then they chuckle, knowing that they may very well be in over their heads, which is entirely possible.
Because then the foster child comes. And you get the privilege and burden of not only the experience, but also knowing all the gruesome details that would cause a child to be in this situation to start with. It’s the difference between knowing and understanding. Between head-knowledge or heart-knowledge. We could all guess pretty accurately what abuse or neglect happens to families in the system. But when you hear the reports over the phone while you’re looking at the child this happened to – it becomes real. When you become closer to the birth family and hear the cycles of trauma that have been around for generations, the grief becomes insurmountable.
That’s when you realize that nothing in this world is perfect, and the best you can do is to do something. Simply take an action with heart full of hope that maybe it will make a difference at some point.
So they look at each other and smile, with the head-knowledge that their hearts are about to be challenged. But we’ve never been the type to just sit back anyway.
Then they hold hands.
Holding hands when you’re dating is only sensational. You do it just to see if she’s as willing to hold your hand as you are. But when you’ve been married for a couple decades, holding hands is a way to rededicate the vows you gave years ago without having to say a word. When things around us get tough, she will grab my hand and say “hold on tight.”
Too many times we’ve been at that same coffee table, after a really long day with the foster kids or after getting disappointing news, and we hold hands and say “hold on tight.”
Whenever we hear of couples getting a divorce, “hold on tight.” When we hear of infidelity or a spouse passing away, “hold on tight.” When we hear of children who grow up and fall away from their faith or give up on trying, “hold on tight.”
Because if you were to ask me in the best and brightest of days, I would rather be thanking God for this woman in my life than anything else. So in the darkest of challenges, we have to remind ourselves that even though this moment is difficult, this is better than anything else. Fighting for this is worth it. This. We can’t lose this. We can’t let this go.
Because it seems as though the people around us are all facing the worst of circumstances. It’s like they are being dragged away from the fairy-tale life we all dreamed of, the life we seemed to all be living just a few years before. And now attacks are coming from every angle and it’s enough emotional weight to make you physically cringe inside.
Hold on tight. Say it again and again as often as you need to. Take the ones you love the most and fight through the sleepless nights and longest days to make it work. Better to have this than live any other life.
So we go back to the table from time to time. Reset. Pour a cup of coffee. Turn off the irritating and senseless TV. Share a glance of mutual understanding. Acknowledge that we may not know what to do next. But take my hand. Hold on tight. Release a nervous laugh. God’s got this. Our task is to simply be willing, faithful, and ready to go,
because the doorbell is about to ring.