In just 3 weeks from today I will pick up a jet-lagged, new-to-America, beautiful young woman and take her home to live with me for the next 10 months as a “daughter”. In terms of literal age it may not seem I’m old enough to have a teenage child, but it’s true. As host parent to an AFS student, I’ll sign on the “parent” line for school field trips, be up late at night this fall washing sports uniforms, and spend my evenings driving all over WNY to events. I’ll have to set boundaries and curfews and say “no”. I’ll get to share meals and my home and life with her, say “yes” to adventures around Buffalo, and hopefully do other fun things like shopping for a prom dress. I’ll get to learn from her and I pray she’ll learn much more from me than just how we tell time in America with 12-hour clocks not 24 (one of the things we’ve chatted about on Facebook preparing for her arrival).
Already, I can see God teaching me more about His parent heart as He prepares me to, in limited ways, have the role of ‘parent’ next year. You see, this young woman is not really my daughter. Her parents back in the Faroe Islands are and will always be her mother and father. They are just entrusting me with part of that role while she studies this coming year in America. I’ve started praying for her and her family and her arrival… as well as her departure for a few months now. Because the reality is that one year from now, she’ll head back home… to her family… to her school… to her house.
As I thought about this more, I realized that if I am blessed at some point with children of “my own” … they really wouldn’t be mine either. Children are a gift from God… they belong to Him alone… He just entrusts parents with their care for a while here on earth. I pray that as I head into this year as “host mom” (and some day maybe just “mom”) God would never let me forget that I may know a lot about the children He entrusts to me, but He knows even more. Perhaps harder to comprehend… I love and care for them a lot… He loves and cares for them even more than I do. He knows literally how many hairs are on their head. He knows their hearts deepest struggles even if they’re slow to share them with me. He knows their future careers and families and lives even when THEY are clueless.
Lord, continue to show me your parent heart… a heart of love and grace and compassion. Teach me to lean on you as you entrust me with care of those around me whether in the role of “host mom” or “friend” or “daughter” or “aunt”. May I remember that those I love are in YOUR more-than-capable hands and You will provide the wisdom and grace and courage I need as I interact with them. Above all, thanks for choosing me as your daughter.