The One with The Next Step and the Wait

I guess it’s always been there. Always in the background, though. I’d pass a poster with a sign on it or I’d have student in my class that would identify as it. I’d talk about it, try to imagine it, and try to dismiss it. But a few summers ago, the voice got louder and my heart kept saying, “if not you, who?”

So I brought it up over dinner on our 10th year wedding anniversary. Becoming foster care parents. We had just started a full-time business, we had a 4 year old and a 2 year old… I just went full time at our church, Watershed. Our house is tiny…1,000 square feet, we are still paying off student loans, our family lives thousands of miles away. I could list literally 50 more reasons at least that this just wasn’t the “right time” for us on paper. But he agreed and a few weeks later we decided to take just one step forward. Just one. And we set a rule for ourselves: at any point if we decided “not now” or “no” we’d give ourselves a ton of grace and turn back. Just one step at a time. That’s it.

So we went to an informational class. And we didn’t talk the whole time. Then we sat in the car and we were still silent.

“Well?” I said.

“It’s time to take another step, don’t you think?” he said.

“Yep.”

And that’s how the next 10 months went.

One step.

Then the next one.

It was the classes, the paperwork, the conversations, the inviting of our closest friends to bear witness to the process and give their perspective, the background checks, and the home inspections.

In all of it, we didn’t move away from the “next step thinking.” Each time we tried to live just in that step…not overthinking or forward planning too much. It allowed us to be just there and to stay mentally present. When a new decision needed to be made we wouldn’t think beyond that one decision.

It was really freeing in a way. It took the pressure off knowing all the answers and we found that it allowed us to stay grounded and rooted into what we both felt was best with the knowledge we had at the time. It took 6 months from our first class until we found ourselves fully licensed foster care parents.

Maybe there’s something inside your heart or gut that keeps coming up. It might not make any sense to you on paper and you can easily sweep it under the rug but in the quiet spaces of your mind, it lives there.There is so much power that exists in taking just one step…especially when you can figure it out as you go, allowing yourself to take your time and live within each new step fully. Maybe today is the day you finally take that step. Don’t overthink it. Just one step, friends.

Or maybe you’ve taken a step…several even…but that next step would mean you’d have to let go of something else. Perhaps to the known, secure, comfortable way of life, or even a past belief. You’re not sure if you’re ready for that quite yet. Grace upon grace, friends.

On July 21st our next step was the final home inspection. Less than a hour later we received our first call. (side note: If you ever wondered if there was a need for foster care parents in Charlotte I believe you just found your answer.) “Baby girl, 1 years old. Local to Charlotte. Will you take her?”

Our next step was saying yes. Literally overnight we became a family of 5. We’ve been saying yes for 240 days and counting. It has been redemptive, exhausting, transformational, frustrating, beautiful, disruptive, fulfilling, complicated, joyful, and messy all at the same time. But it has also shifted. We no longer have the power to take a “next step.” We’re on the same step with no clear timeline or outcome in sight.

We are waiting.

It’s hard to stay in the “next step thinking” when you don’t have control over it, right?

Maybe there is something that has you in a holding pattern… you’ve been there for awhile and you feel frozen. It’s out of your control with no “next step” in sight. There may never be if you’re honest.

Or maybe you are faced with making the next step but there is a real possibility that it won’t breathe the outcome you hope for and you’re wondering if it’s worth the risk.

Or maybe the next step was decided for you.

I’m there too.

We aren’t sure if or when she will leave us. We’re not sure if a day in the future will include us packing her bags for uniting/reuniting with members of her family or if it will include joining our family permanently. Either way it will be a celebration. Either way there will be bittersweet tears. But right now. There is no next step. It’s just the waiting. The next step will be decided for us. And so I wait on this step and I am trying to learn how to become more self-aware in this season when my mind and soul are weary for answers and outcomes. I try to visualize myself physically planting my feet down and dwell within this step, within JUST today in this moment, in this tiny house as a temporary or permeant family of 5.

So the question is what is God doing in my life, and how am I personally experiencing transformation and awakening?

He’s teaching me that He’s in the “one steps” with me.

He’s in the waiting and we’re co-creating this story together.

He’s showing me what real living looks like…it’s not in the huge shifts but in the everyday right-now life.

It’s simple, its holy, and it’s hard work to stay put in a moment of time. So I dwell there, with Him.

These days I’m taking notice of my breath, my habits, and my triggers trying to become more aware of myself and His presence when I want to jump off the step or rush ahead to find out how this story will end. And I’m reaching out to my people, the ones standing there with me, reminding me that this story is all of ours, too.

Today, may you take a step forward into your life and discover more of your true self in the waiting. May it include walking into someone’s brokenness and finding that this was meant for redemption is your own brokenness as well. May you have people around you that can root for you and remind you that they’re standing on the step with you.

And may you feel His presence and Spirit in the waiting like you’ve never felt before.

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