We live in a world with too many rules, and I don’t think that many people would disagree with me. We are reminded daily that someone (person or entity) has taken it upon themselves to determine what is best for the rest of us.
I guess that’s OK if you like being micromanaged, but I don’t like it and I just can’t take it anymore.
We have an additional layer to deal with because we’re foster parents and as foster parents we are subject to many rules and regulations. Most of them deal with permission and documentation.
We have to submit paperwork anytime one of the kids goes to the doctor, dentist or has a therapy appointment. We have medication logs to record the administration of prescription medication, and over the counter medication, and supplements. We have to submit monthly progress reports and have therapists and case workers and case managers in our home all of the time.
It seems like there is a great deal of scrutiny on those who are trying to help kids who need a little help. I am often left wondering why foster parents have to jump through so many hoops and are subject to so many regulations. I think the wrong people might be under the microscope here.
OK, now let me speak out of the other side of my mouth.
On one level I get the need for all of the rules we have to deal with. The system has to ensure that the kids in care are not hurt again. So, where should the powers that be focus their attention? On the kids parents? Adding more rules has added reasons for removal and has only led to more kids in care. I understand the need for regulations that protect children and I support them, but more rules have not led to better outcomes.
I am reminded of the words of the apostle Paul when he wrote that the only function of the law (rules) is to let us know where we fail. Remember, he called the law a mirror, but a mirror that only offers a dim reflection.
As I was thinking about all of the rules we are subject to, I realized two things:
- We don’t need more rules, we need better people
- Rules don’t make better people, Jesus does
Apart from the gospel we cannot really change. We can try, but ultimately we fail because the desire for doing the wrong thing is greater than the desire to do what is right. While pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps is a uniquely American idea, and has served us well in this country, it just isn’t the gospel. The gospel is about realizing that you can’t save yourself, it’s about realizing your need for a savior.
If we want fewer kids in care we need more parents in relationship with Jesus. And as long as the system excludes the gospel things will not change because rules don’t make better people, Jesus does. That’s why our churches need to be actively involved in the foster care system. The agent of healing with the message of hope needs to be just that to so many people who need the mercy and grace and forgiveness that the gospel promises.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. – John 15:5 (NIV)
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