Have you ever worked really hard on something, but no one noticed or said anything? One time when I was a kid, I had my mom check my math homework, and she complimented me on my precise and neat handwriting. I worked very hard every assignment after that to be sure that my handwriting was as good or better than that time, but I don’t remember her saying anything about it ever again. (I’ve since given up and mostly scribble.) In college I worked at Pizza Hut. Do you know what the most hidden job at a restaurant is? The dishwasher. No one ever says “Compliments to the dishwasher!” No one tips the dishwasher for making sure dishes are sparkling. In fact, as soon as the dishes are clean, they get dirty again. Washing dishes was most likely the biggest reason I finished my college degree. It was thankless and never ending.
Do you get that? Do you ever feel like no one sees you and the hard work that you put in to do the things that no one else wants to do? Maybe you’re a mom and you’re thinking, “Honey. Every. Day.”
Now think about those times when you receive spontaneous praise. Maybe it’s just a dandelion your four year old son with a mud-smudged face brings in from the back yard. Maybe it’s your husband telling his friends about that amazing new casserole you made for dinner last week. Maybe it’s your boss sending out an email to the whole company praising your hard work and dedication. Maybe it’s a customer simply saying “thank you.”
Those times make it worth it. Right? You can make it through another day because someone sees you.
I have recently discovered this phrase from Genesis, “You are the God who sees me.” It really captivates me and I need to sit and meditate on that piece of scripture every time I see it or hear it. The context of the verse is not really a story that would captivate you though. You probably have never read it to your children at bed time or taught in a Sunday School class. It’s one of those stories that make your cheeks blush.It’s pretty scandalous! You can read it here, but I’ll give you the basics.
Sarai couldn’t get pregnant, and they wanted a child. So Sarai told her maid, Hagar, to go be with Abram, her husband. Basically, she wanted a baby so badly that she was willing for her husband to have an affair with her employee. Well, after she gets pregnant, Sarai is awful to Hagar because she is so jealous. So she does what any jealous woman would do, Sarai sends Hagar away. Hagar was just doing her job but she got fired! In the desert Hagar is crying out. Devasted. Talk about a bad day. But God sees her. He sees that she was being obedient when Sarai and Abram were sinning. He sends his angel to her, and he blesses her with a son who would be sure to care for her the rest of her life. She says to Him, “You are the God who sees me.”
There is this entire invisible network that most people don’t see on a regular basis, but the network exists right next to you. The family down the street. The child in your daughter’s class. The lady that sits in the pew a few rows ahead. This is the world of foster care. It exists in every community, but most people don’t recognize it or think too much about it.
The foster care world is spun on the axis of the Department of Health and Human Services. If the foster care world is unseen, caseworkers are even more unseen. They are knee deep in the filth of people’s sin and the havoc that generations of darkness has heaped on the heads of their children.
Church, this is where the Light needs to be. Did you hear me? This… “knee deep in the filth of people’s sin” is where Christ has called us to live out the Gospel.
These caseworkers are making decisions about the safety of children and the stability of families. They are testifying in court. Writing reports. Sitting in hospital waiting rooms. Writing reports. Visiting homes where no human should live let alone a child should play. Visiting homes where they have no idea what’s behind the door, desperately praying for their safety. Spending their own money on meals for kids. Missing their own children’s soccer games so they can squeeze in that monthly visit with a child whose parents haven’t shown up for visits for weeks. Writing more reports. Buried in the hopelessness of other people’s lives, they are overworked and underpaid. They are unseen.
May is National Foster Care Month and we want to take the opportunity to shine some Light in the darkness. To offer Hope. To show caseworkers that they are in fact, seen. Not just this month, but every month.
Here are some ideas. Rally your small group, your friends, your family, or your church and feel free to dream bigger than we have here.
*Cater a lunch.
*Ask for the names of each caseworker and write an encouraging note.
*Give them gift cards to a coffee shop or cater in a coffee cart.
*Put together car kits for their cars to help when they need to transport a child long distance.
*Commit to praying for them. Tell them you are praying for them and ask them for specific ways to pray.
*Give their Family Room a makeover.
*Host a diaper drive.
What has your church done? Share your ideas!