As a foster mom, I honestly might cry if someone gives us or a child living with us One. More. Blanket.
We have blankets on every bed, stuffed in baskets next to couches, tossed in the back of minivans, and laying on floors. Handmade blankets, cheap fleece blankets, character-themed blankets . . . we’ve got them all.
We get them as generic gifts at Christmas, as care packages from the doctor’s office and the local foster care support groups, and even for birthdays.
I don’t know if there’s any room in our house that doesn’t have at least one blanket.
Why blankets? Do people assume kids in foster care are always cold? Do they think that foster homes are struggling to keep the heat on? I don’t understand.
What I could always use more of is SOMEBODIES.
Somebody who will ask my kids (bio or foster) how they are doing—and stop to listen for the long-winded answer or the awkwardly short answer. Somebody who will smile at and laugh with my kids. Somebody who will run to the store for an emergency set of clothes when a new placement arrives with nothing. Somebody who will show up with snacks . . . and then stay to eat. Somebody who will give hugs, or air high-fives, or read books, or play board games. Somebody who says they will pray, and actually does.
I’m not saying these somebodies don’t exist or that we haven’t been blessed by many, many of these somebodies coming alongside us in our foster care journey.
Unlike blankets, however, we will NEVER have a surplus of somebodies.
Why not? I’m not exactly sure. Perhaps we hope that by throwing some blankets at hurting people, we can check off the boxes of “service” and “love” on our biblical checklist without any danger or risk to ourselves or our family. We will have safely done our duty for the need and hurt and chaos in the world.
But I think when Jesus said to care for the sick, the widows, the orphans, the imprisoned . . . if He meant we were supposed to send them blankets, He would have said that.
Instead, He went to where hurting people lived, looked in their eyes, touched their wounds, got into their space, and cared enough to come into proximity with hunger and hurt and big, gnawing needs that were too big to fix with a blanket. He wasn’t scared off by bleeding women or insane demoniacs and foaming mouths or stinky tombs or dead daughters. He was right up in the thick of the drama and the hurt, not on the sidelines shouting instructions or sending aid by carrier pigeon.
Jesus calls us to risk everything to follow Him—the way He did when He walked the earth, entering into people’s lives and allowing them to enter into His life.
Granted, a life following Jesus isn’t sanitized. It’s not clean work. It’s not easy work. As a wise foster mother of teenagers once told me (in a bit stronger language), “You can’t wade into other people’s crap without getting some crap on yourself.”
It can be dangerous and risky and messy.
But this is what true life is made of—adventure, peril, risk, hope—and some crap. And being with a person through all of that—really with them—is the best way to make an impact on their life.
And it’s what Jesus did for us. God with us, Immanuel, God made flesh who left Heaven to live in our broken world.
You know what I’ve discovered so far about this way of living? It may not be as safe as donating blankets, but it sure is a lot more fun. There is so much joy and hope and JESUS wrapped up in the mess of a life lived riskily for Him that I’m pretty sure it’s the closest thing to Heaven we will get on this side of the veil.
And I’ll take that over blankets any day.