At first glance our story is easily dismissed, in the checkout line I am an unwed, pierced, tattooed mother of four, based on the range of skin tones I am guessing at least two baby daddys. With that narrative I am easily dismissed and judged on a good day, much harsher assumptions are made if any of my kiddos are melting down mid shopping trip. With that perspective our story is easily overlooked.
I have realized that sharing our story takes our situation from presumed bad choices to a beautiful story of redemption. Sharing our story shows others what is possible. Sharing our story reminds me how faithful God has been through this all. Sharing our story reminds me of why I do this. Sharing our story validates what my children have been through.
I was talking this weekend with another foster mom, we were talking about how it all can be perceived. Our children’s meltdowns, behaviors, coping skills can be hard to deal with at times. She said sometimes it would be nice to wear a shirt that said, “I don’t know why they are crying I have only had them 3 days.” The assumption that foster children are bad, dangerous, broken and ruined children all allow for us to shrug off that they all have stories, stories that deserve to be heard, known and validated.
Stories have a powerful way of changing our perspective. We are given the chance to see the angry salesclerk differently when we ask how their day has been. Behaviors that are frustrating and inconvenient suddenly become more understandable when I know what they have been through. Choices of a birth parent suddenly become slightly more clear when I realize they were a foster child who never got that loving home.
We are complex beings and our story shapes us into who we were, who we are and where we will be. It is our story that shapes our personality, our dreams and what we want. Our story reveals to us our view of God, our career path, our coping skills and how we relate to others.
I am learning to be generous with my story, even the messy parts. I am learning to slow down and listening for others story even in brief interactions. Our stories are still unfolding and the greatest thing we can do for others on this life journey is listen to them, honor your story, honor their story..