Well it happened. I figured it would. I figured our 5 year old foster daughter might be first to do it. And she did. There we were, swimming in the lake. I was in the water and she was jumping off the dock with Gideon. Gideon was first and said, “Hey Dad, Dad, watch this!” There he went splashing into the water. K was next and she did just as Gideon had done before her. “Hey, Dad, Dad watch this!”
I thought to myself as she went splashing into the water: “Did she say what I think she did?” Yup, she called me “dad”. “I wonder if she even realized it.”
She has only be with us a few short weeks, but Sarah and I are her parents now. She has been taken care of by her great-grandmother who is no longer able to care for them. She has never seen or really even met her biological parents. I have really been the only male that has taken care of her in her life and there she goes, calling me “dad”.
I must say that it felt pretty good. I know she was most likely only doing it because that is just what she had heard a few seconds earlier come from Gideon’s mouth, but its a start. Our other foster son, R., is still in denial about the situation. He won’t call us mom or dad and makes sure to tell people when we introduce him as “our son”, that we aren’t really his parents. I understand. I don’t expect him to fully embrace all that has happened to him in such a short time. It will take time. And prayerfully, he will one day see us as “Mom and Dad.”
Something struck me about all of this. Here you have 3 kids from two different situations and they see Sarah and I differently. It reminds me about people in the church and how they see their Heavenly Father.
There is Gideon. I am his father. His Dad. His only earthly father. Sure he knows that he was born from a different woman, but that isn’t his mother. He knows there was a guy involved, but that isn’t his dad. (He doesn’t know exactly how he was involved. That lesson comes later, much later.) We are his mom and dad. He fully embraces that, doesn’t wear adoption as a thing to be embarrassed about, and embraces the family that God has given him. He is excited and welcoming of others. He is excited to share his family with other “brothers and sisters”. “Who wouldn’t want to be apart of this?”, he thinks. ” I am loved, cared for, trained, disciplined, shepherded well, and am apart of something bigger then myself; a family,” he says.
There are many in the church like this. They are the backbone of it and its greatest evangelists.
Then there is K. She has never known her “biological father”. Never had a male presence in her life, really. And has been so confused about things that she started to call her great-grandmother, “Mommy”. She is warming up to the idea of a dad and mom. But when she says, “Dad” what does she mean? She doesn’t quite know. She misses things about her old life, but there are new truths that she is warming up to that she doesn’t quite understand. The idea of family is changing and she isn’t sure she likes it. I can sense in her voice that there is something comforting that she enjoys about calling someone “Daddy” for the first time. She isn’t quite sure about the blessings awaiting her as part of a family, but she is curious. She is embracing this new life, but cautiously.
There, too, are many in the church like this. The call on their Heavenly Father, but don’t really know what it means to have a Heavenly Father. They are present, curious about this stuff, but don’t know and are afraid to fully embrace this new life.
Then there is R. He is in denial. He is hanging on to the past. He sees his new family as a threat to all that he once knew. To gain us is to lose something, so he thinks. He thinks he will lose his Nana by embracing this new life. Not knowing that the reality is that to embrace me as a Dad is to, for the first time, gain a real Nana. She no longer has to be mom, dad, grandma, and great-grandma. She can finally be “Nana”. Yet he resists. In his old life he was in charge to some extent. In this new family, he is not the authority, someone else is. That is hard for him. He doesn’t see the blessing that lies in submission to authority…yet. He is getting to enjoy some of the blessings of this new life: new school, new clothes, abundance of provision. But he won’t fully know all that is waiting for him until he embraces the blessing of a family. I understand, with him, this transition takes time.
Again, there are too many in the church like this. They are counting the cost and only able to see things they lose. They find ways to enjoy the fellowship, programs, and status offered by a local church without embracing and submitting to the one and only Head of the Church.
I, too, get to see into Christ’s heart, if only but dimly. I see his pursuit of each of his children and how he pursues them differently.
Like Gideon. I pursue his heart so that he would be an example in the midst of new influences. I speak over him that he is to be a man of truth, faith, love, and one that pours himself out for the Gospel. I speak that way because he understands what I am saying.
I pursue K. by showing her the father’s heart for her. “Yes, you are pretty,” I tell her. Praying that something in her soul will hear that and forever be shaped by a man, wanting nothing from her, thinks she is beautiful the way God made her. I pursue her heart by showing firmness and love all at the same time.
I pursue R. by being patient with him in his denial. Reminding him that I am not going anywhere. Showing him the fruits of a life with a family. And waiting till he sees that it is better to give in, then to hold on.
In all this I get to see a little bit of Christ’s relentless pursuit of me.
Never fear. R. is coming around. He has “accidentally” as he says, called me dad once. He has also called Gideon his brother and Ellis and Esther his sisters. I guess that isn’t too far from the way Christ calls all of us too. God usually uses a “brother” or a “sister” to bring us to Jesus Christ. If it works for the church, why not in my house?
Side note: I am not sure why I just use the letters for the foster children’s names. It just feels right to keep them and their life a couple steps removed from a personal blog.