Passing stranger! You do not know how longingly I look upon you,
You must be he I was seeking, or she I was seeking, (it comes to me as a dream,)
I have somewhere surely lived a life of joy with you,
All I recall'd as we flit by each other, fluid, affectionate, chaste, matured,
You grew up with me, were a boy with me, or a girl with me...
I am not to speak to you ~ I am to think of you when I sit alone, or wake at night alone,
I am to wait ~ I do not doubt I am to meet you again.
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.
Walt Whitman ~ Leaves of Grass
It was just over two years ago.
I was driving down the highway as we passed a seemingly homeless man with a sign.
I acknowledged the suspected Holy Spirit nudge and applied the appropriate rationale.
And from the back Big Sis said, That could have been my mom. She's homeless.
Without a thought, I pulled through Chick-Fil-A, ordered a #1, and returned with Sis to the stranger staring down each passing car while holding his sign...Please help. Will work for food.
It wasn't the only time we saw him on that corner...or in other places. And it wasn't the only time we delivered a #1.
But it was a moment that shifted my paradigm.
Foster care is an interesting world because it is an immersion into doing life with strangers...in the context of your home.
The teen bunking for a night...her final stop of hope.
The baby dropped off to detox...born into utter chaos.
The 10-year-old who doesn't even acknowledge you when she comes through your door...she's had 12 others stops just like this one.
But it's not just the children.
It's the worker who collapses on your couch because she hasn't slept in 48 hours.
It's the lawyer dropping by to meet a deadline.
It's a world of daddies and mamas plagued by drugs, addictions and hauntings of tales they wish they could bury.
It's a counter cultural life.
We raise our children to never speak to strangers, to protect themselves, to defend their hearts.
To beware of pain and shame...
We strive with all our beings to strategically build our comforts and relationships to shield us from ever feeling like strangers in our own lives, prepared to defend ourselves, and falsely guaranteeing we will never know shame.
Forgetting all the while, that Christ is our only defense and all our shame was cast on Him for His Father's glory.
Could it be our strategies of comfort and defense are robbing glory from the One for whom we long?
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised,
but having seen them and greeted them from afar,
and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on earth...
~ Hebrews 11:13
In our striving, we have forgotten that we were the ones intended to be the strangers in order to bring shelter to the exile.
The ones meant to be uncomfortable in order to bring comfort to those desperate for comfort.
The ones created to rest in our grace-given defense in order to defend the voiceless.
In this world you are orphans ~ eagerly anticipating your adoption as God's child.
In this world you are a widow ~ longing for your reunion with your bridegroom.
In this world you are a stranger ~ a pilgrim waiting to become a citizen of heaven.
~ Tom Davis
Perhaps in our efforts to secure our identity and preserve our children's esteem, we have forgotten we are purposed to be a stranger among strangers.
Clinging to the One who became a Stranger for us ~