Late Wednesday morning, after a night with little sleep and a morning trying to keep the boys quiet so I could take conference calls, Peggy was emotionally exhausted. By the end of the day, Zack, our puppy, was growling at the two year old every chance he got, the two year old was crying inconsolably for his mom, the four month old was screaming at the top of his lungs, and Bella was crying because she wanted her mommy back. At one point, Luke, always the trooper, stood between the three younger ones with a panicked look, trying to figure out how to make the chaos stop.
Though this post may sound like I’m complaining, that’s far from my intent. Rather, I want to commend the single parents out there. And, I want to encourage everyone to empathize and lend a hand. Between Peggy, Luke and me, we had the younger ones covered; yet, we felt like we were drowning. And this was after only 36 hours. Single parents do this every day, every night, with no relief in sight. If you are able, offer them that relief. It may be through organizations like Safe Families or it could just be a call to a single parent offering to babysit for a night, or two.
On Thursday morning, Peggy had brought the boys back to their mom. We fell short of the two weeks that we’d promised. We knew it was the right decision, but that didn’t make it any easier. My real mistake was in agreeing to take the boys without fully assessing our situation. With a new home with hard floors and a pool, new puppy, working at home full time, Luke/Bella trying to adapt to a new place and school — we accepted two boys who deserved more of us.
Even after realizing that we needed to return the boys to their mother (or have Safe Families find another host family), we asked ourselves whether we were being faithful servants. Peggy and I have been reading Chasing God, about a couple who, by their faith, dedicated their lives to the downtrodden in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco. Pastor Huang and his wife, Maite, have been in ministry for almost 30 years; and, yet, we couldn’t give even two days to these two boys and their mother. What we had to realize was that full time childcare is not our calling. To serve those boys and the mother right, I would need quit my job. Otherwise, I was being disloyal to my employer and unfair to the boys in trying to serve both at the same time. The mistake, in this instance, was in running too far ahead of God’s will and trying to do too much.
Will we continue to serve with Safe Families? Without a doubt. Peggy offered to take the boys for a day or two at a time to give the mother relief. Weekends are fine. Older kids may even be okay — especially if they’re in school during the day. Serving God, we’ve learned, requires more than recklessly throwing ourselves at a need. Sometimes, serving God means being faithful in our current circumstances while remaining watchful for His calling.
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