I started working as a DSS caseworker early in 2019, and I have been blown away by the faithfulness God has shown me over the last 20 months. Working with children who come from trauma and lifestyles of abuse and neglect has been a hard season to live in. I have seen things that are absolutely heartbreaking and things that made/make me question how a good God can allow these traumatic things to happen… especially to the most vulnerable population.
This season has made me question the bigger issues in life, and it has also made me cling to the Gospel more than I have ever done before. Working with foster children has required a type of faith I didn’t know existed within my soul. I have had to trust the bigger picture of who God is and know that I am only a small part of His story.
Part of my job is helping find homes for children who are legally free for adoption and advocating for them throughout the process until finalization can occur. This has been a replica of the Gospel story for my image-driven mind. We all came into this world with a biological family, but we were spiritual orphans. We had a Heavenly Father who called us His, but there was work to be done and lifestyle changes we had to make to fully reach our potential as Disciples. We had to be shaped and molded, and we had to be willing to let the change take effect. We had to be willing to let growth happen.
Seeing the foster system in a tangible way reminds me of this spiritual shaping so much. These children are biological orphans, and they will have to go through some really hard trials to get to a place where they are a new creation. They will need therapy, coaching, friendships, mentors, etc.. to learn how to step into their full potential. They will have to work through their old ways, learn to love again, and learn to cope appropriately. As a caseworker, it is my job to help them understand how change and growth happen and to support and encourage them through the change. It is hard. It is complex. It is emotional and tragic. All the while, it is rewarding and promising and offers hope. To see a child come into foster care from a home where they were hurt (emotionally, physically, and mentally) and walk alongside them through their coping is really a beautifully tragic experience. But, the greatest reward comes twofold. The first is when you see it, “click.” When a child realizes they are more than their past and to comprehend their worth is an indescribable experience. To see them understand that their trauma is not their fault, and they are more than what happened to them is beautiful. The second part is when they enter into their forever family. When they experience being chosen and hand-picked for a new family. They carry their past with them as a guide and tool to help them work through their future and remind them how they have grown, but they can fully step into what it feels to be called. They get a new name. They get a new bedroom, new toys, new friends and family, and a fresh start.
This is the Gospel in real-time. This is what it feels like to fully accept that we are called and CHOSEN by God and have the opportunity to step into our fullest potential. We get a new name—a new home made for us in Heaven. We get new communities, new mentors, new experiences. We don’t neglect to remember where we came from and how those experiences paved the way, but we can fully accept that we are more than our past through Christ’s pursuit of us.
There is no greater reward than to know we are doing Kingdom work and to see a child go from death to life. To see them step into a season of joy and growth. It is hard, and the molding is uncomfortable, but to help a child understand their full potential and to see them experience a childhood they didn’t think was possible is a great gift and the best “job” I could ask for.