And all the other stress that comes with periods of unknown
We're officially a million years into a case without a concrete timeline. I know there's nothing new to our struggle over here at the Zehring household. Anyone who's been in a period of waiting-- for a pregnancy, for wellness, for finality in a foster care case, for closure in a relationship-- knows that the limbo period is the worst. We also know, or at least many of us could say that this place of in-between is also where the growth happens.
All of this is true and Nick and I know this in our hearts, but it just doesn't make it easier.
So here I am, writing this all out and asking myself: in this space of foster parenting (insert all other challenges) how do we navigate the most fundamental part of this journey without becoming overwhelming inward focused and negative?
Here's what I've come up with...
Find quiet time or journal time
I think there's something to be said for having the opportunity to say or write all of the things (negative, positive, crazy) about the feelings surrounding an event and then using that time as a way to 'leave' those feelings there. Let a quiet time or journaling session be a way to avoid rumination and capture control of situations that might otherwise cause a spiraling of negative emotions.
Gather your tribe and ask for wise, grace-filled criticism
There's really nothing better than a safe group or cadre of people who can hear you, empathize, and then gracefully guide you toward right thinking. I don't think the people in your corner are required to be in your exact same situation (i.e. only single people, only married couples, etc.). Just keep close those who are supportive, kind, and brave enough to be useful with their advice.
*A HUGE shout out to my sister foster mama, J, for always hitting this one out of the park.
Use your talents where you are
There's nothing worse than being in a period of waiting and then feeling like you're twiddling your thumbs. Are their ways you could improve your situation or that of someone else? Can your administrative tasks benefit caseworkers in the foster care system? Could improvements just be meal-prepping better before a busy week of appointments or giving your spouse or friend time to get a coffee without kids? How can you rise up in a way that is grace-filled and kind?
Be present with God and those around you
I can only speak for myself, but I think this might be the discipline most crucial for me and the hardest to practice daily. No matter the struggle or situation, recognizing God's presence, strength, and faithfulness in the midst of challenging transition is the single best anecdote for my heart and brain as the wife to my husband, mother to my children, and friend to those around me. This song by Foy Vance is a great reminder of Ecclesiastes 3:1-13.
Two of the wisest women I know, who both happen to be lawyers, are the most practiced at this. Both approach conversations, challenges, and issues I lay at their feet with patience and a measured tongue. If we could all practice and eventually adopt this trait successfully, there's no doubt this skill would benefit everyone involved in our lives when we're in the midst of a hard, waiting place.
It's OK to let emotions fly with close friends in designated spaces and times, but there are so many other instances where we would benefit ourselves and others with more control of our words.
Where do you fit in during seasons of waiting? How have you approached these challenges?