So often we take things at face value. For example: If someone is smiling, they must be happy. There are many faces in this world, but what is shown is not always what is real. I remember teaching a class at a Junior High church camp while on camp teams with my Bible college one summer. I gave an example of how often we don't take the time to look beyond a face and into the window of someone's soul. After the class a girl stayed behind sobbing. She said no one knew what a hard time she had been having. She'd been carrying her heavy burden around silently, plastering a smile on her face that fooled all those who thought they knew her.
When I was in Junior High I was this girl. From everyone else's perspective I had no reason to be sad, to be hurting. I had good grades, was involved in extra-curricular activities, and smiled A LOT. I actually had a counselor tell me, "You don't have a good reason to hate your life. You have everything going for you." Needless to say my parents didn't take me back to that counselor. I was hurting inside deeply. I was having a crisis of faith and asking hard questions. "Did I only believe in God because that's what my parents believed? If there was a God how could He allow so much evil in the world?" Every single day I got on the bus my friend Tera and I were bullied by two boys. They made fun of us, told us how fat and ugly we were, and taught us a lot of perverted words and gestures that I didn't want to know. One of my closest friends in school turned on me and instant messaged awful things like, "Why don't you just go ahead and kill yourself."
Unfortunately even the things I experienced in Junior High are minor compared to the world of kids today. The pressure of sexting, unlimited access to media and the ability to ruin someone's reputation through it, drugs, alcohol, and the ever more prevalent obsession with sex, and girls putting their worth in how 'sexy' they can be. Gah! Our kids are beat on every side with these things. I had supportive parents who sought out counseling for me, and I had a youth sponsor who would take me out to ice cream and talk with me. There were several people during this time who were willing to look beyond the plastered smile and into the window of my soul. They weren't afraid of not having the right answers or saying the wrong thing. They were there for me and I knew it. I knew they cared. They believed in me when I could not. When I questioned my faith they encouraged me to question, but to not stop at the questions! They encouraged me to search out the answers in the Bible and the historical evidence that helps verify it's truth. These people were safe to be real with, to be raw and without the fake smile. They were safe. They dared to look deeper.
I agree that not all of us are in a position to foster, but I believe that all of us are in a position to influence a child for the better. It might not be as hard as you think. Simply lending a listening ear, giving encouragement, sponsoring a child that might not otherwise get to be involved in extra-curricular activities such as music, dance, or sports. As a neighbor you might be the only kind, safe, and stable person your neighbor child knows. As a coach, spend the extra time on the kid who struggles more or doesn't have as much natural ability. As a teacher, go beyond the grades and academics and inspire your students through your own life, Live the example, don't just teach it. As a church youth sponsor, don't just show up for Wednesday night youth group. Find a child you can invest in, mentor, and love on. As a church elder or deacon, invest in the youth! They are the future! Don't be afraid to throw money at your youth program if it will change the future generations. As a foster parent, don't believe the devil's lies that you aren't actually making a difference because you're not "the ideal or perfect" foster parent. Remember that Christ's strength is made perfect through your weakness and inadequacies. As a parent or foster parent, let your kids see what matters most in life through your own life. What you spend your money on, what you talk about the most, what you spend the most time on. They will see easily if it's material things, a successful career, entertainment, or if it's Jesus. The most important thing in this world is not education. It's not money. It's not even family. It's knowing your Creator and loving Him with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. Do the children in our lives see us living for the only thing that matters? Or do they see us chasing after the wind...
"For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.
So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most." ~Hebrews 4:12-16
is a rural Missouri preacher's wife who stays at home with her son Winston and 4 foster sons whom she and her husband are in the process of adopting! (Looking forward to the day I can put their names on here!)