Have you seen that episode of I Love Lucy with the freezer? I certainly hope you have, but if not, allow me to give you a brief synopsis.
Lucy and Ethel decide to buy a large, industrial freezer without their husbands knowing it because they figure buying meat in bulk and storing it in the freezer will save them a lot of money. One day, while Lucy is unloading all the meat from the freezer to keep Ricky and Fred from finding out how much she had bought, the door accidentally shuts on her and she gets locked inside with the key in her pocket. When Ethel, Ricky, and Fred finally find Lucy, they must do whatever is necessary to break in to save Lucy from freezing to death. In this case, they use a crowbar to break open the lock.
You know what the three outside the freezer didn’t do? They didn’t pray about whether they were the right people or whether this was the right time to get Lucy out of the freezer or whether there was another freezer in Africa they should go to. No. They saw the problem, realized the urgency of it, and took action.
And this makes sense. Sure, they could have waited for a blacksmith to randomly walk through the basement of their apartment building, but Lucy had already been in the freezer for a while and couldn’t afford to wait much longer.
Why am I talking about I Love Lucy? Well, because in a lot of ways, the foster care crisis is very similar to the plot of this episode.
Many kids in foster care are in a dire situation and need people who are willing to bust down the door for them. The problem is that often the very people who could help them are waiting around for the “right time” or for God to “open a door.”
Perhaps God does open doors for some people. I don’t know. But I believe sometimes we need to bust down the door ourselves. Or maybe just try turning the knob. A closed door doesn’t always indicate a locked door.
I know people who have been “praying about whether foster care is right for our family” for years. Let me say this: if it’s taking you years to “hear from God” about what your “calling” is, then maybe you’ve been plugging your ears this whole time. It’d be a pretty sick trick for God to let kids languish in the system while he procrastinates his job of informing people of their callings.
So what I’m saying is that, unless it’s an obvious no, then it’s a yes. It’s only the wrong door for you if you try to bust it down and it doesn’t budge at all. Instead of waiting for God to open the door for you, you really ought to determine whether God is holding the door shut. The thing is, you can only figure that out if you run at the door with your full force.
Frankly, I don’t believe God “called” me to be a foster parent; rather, I believe he just wanted me to get off my ass and pick a door for myself. Foster care is the door I chose. I could have chosen to fight human trafficking or feed the hungry and I think God would have been just as pleased.
If you’ve been considering foster care, I–a former pastor–give you permission to just do it. Unless there’s some major reason why you shouldn’t, like maybe you legitimately live in a shoe or you’re 97 and bed-ridden, you probably ought to just sign up.
Quit waiting for God to open a door for you. You’re an adult, for Pete’s sake! Just turn the knob. If it’s locked, then bust down the freaking door. Don’t blame God because you feel guilty about your inaction.
And hear me on this: it’s okay if you just don’t want to do foster care, or your passion is for another equally worthy cause, or you’re afraid to be a foster parent. All those things make sense. Foster care is a huge disruption to normal life that some days I wish I wasn’t involved with. And there are plenty of other major issues in the world that need to be addressed by good people willing to do the work. And of course foster care is scary; no foster parent will tell you otherwise.
But if those things are the case, then say that. You’re allowed to feel the way you feel. Don’t give us some bullshit excuse about God’s timing or calling.
There are thousands of doors in this world. Foster care is just one of them. There’s war, poverty, global warming, sexual violence, slavery, mental and physical illness, and abandonment. Right now, the hallway outside these doors is riddled with people who are waiting for God to open a door and beckon them across the threshold. Meanwhile, the people on the other side of those doors continue to suffer.
I’m suggesting that God has no interest in doing all the work for you. Pick a door and try opening it. If it’s locked, bust it down. If the door stays shut after you ram your shoulder into it, then pick a different door and try again.
I’m willing to bet that very few of those doors will be impenetrable. And sometimes the door you open is the front door of your house.