March 26, 2013
Soldiers are universally recognized as heroes. They bravely step onto the battlefield to fight for the cause they believe in, courageously facing their adversaries with resolve and determination. Their amazing victories are applauded and awarded with ribbons and medals, speeches and ceremonies.
But there is a warrior of another kind, the one who daily enters the battlefield in a place where no one can see, where no one applauds, where no medals are awarded. Despite the fears and doubts and insecurities and loneliness, she fights resolutely, knowing that her cause is indeed a worthy one. She is an invisible warrior. She is a foster mother.
She enlisted the day she answered the phone and agreed to welcome a stranger, a child in need, into her home. Despite the thorough training and the months of preparation, nothing could have accurately prepared her for the first-hand experience of a warrior’s life. To face the daily challenges and the incessant temptation to quit.
How does she handle the child’s out-of-control tantrums at the most inconvenient times? The sleepless nights which turn into sleepless weeks and months? The numerous food issues, bizarre habits, inappropriate behaviors? And how can she continue to love, day after day after day, knowing that the child into whose life she is investing and to whom she is giving her heart will eventually leave? The answers to her ever-growing list of questions certainly can’t be found in the popular parenting books at the local bookstore!
Unlike a military soldier, who is surrounded by others in the troop, facing the enemies side by side, the foster-mother-warrior often fights her battles alone. Her husband is her closest ally, and together they discuss tactics, make battle-plans, and ensure that the other is as armed and equipped as possible. But other than him, so few people seem to understand her passion and vision for answering God’s call to care for the fatherless child in this way.
It can be wearying and discouraging to defend, yet again, to friends, to family members, and even to mature believers in her church why she has chosen this particular lifestyle. To explain that yes, of course it is difficult. And yes, there are daily challenges that often seem overwhelming. And yes, the foster system is far less than perfect. And yes (she has answered this question hundreds of times), when a child leaves it feels like her heart is being ripped right out! But if God’s people are not caring for these defenseless, innocent children, who will? Who will show them God's love and introduce them, perhaps for the very first time, to Jesus?
Where are the other warriors? Surely there are others who face similar situations and struggles. Most likely, there are many, and most likely, they are also invisible warriors, faithfully fulfilling their duty to care for orphans in a place where no one can see.
These invisible warriors need each other! They need the encouragement that comes with knowing that they are not alone in their obedience to God’s call. That there are others who are fighting the same battle. Others who have devoted their lives to loving children whose parents are unable or unwilling to care for them. Who are daily sacrificing comfort, conveniences, even relationships in order to welcome “the least of these” into their hearts and homes and families.
It’s a private, unseen, often thankless assignment that she has accepted. Although the personal conviction remains strong, and the passion is as powerful now as it was at the beginning, sometimes she just needs a reminder. To hear someone else reiterate the reason for doing what she does. To attend a conference where others share their vision, their callings, their stories of standing strong. To remember once again the unexpected blessings and the eternal rewards that await the invisible warrior.
(I am writing this post as part of the Summit 9 Blogger Giveaway. Check out all the details at www.summit9.org.)