Yesterday, my husband said, “You’re going to be a good mom.”
I was making up bunk beds with the new bedding I’d agonized over for weeks. “Can dots be gender-neutral?” “What if they’re scared of jungle animals?” “Do girls like blue?” He knew I needed to hear it. He knew this was hard for me.
I’m a soon-to-be foster mom who’s admittedly unfit for the task. I can count the number of diaper changes I’ve completed on one hand. I’m too young to parent a teenager. I’m not good at pretending or talking in funny voices or diffusing tantrums. I know nothing about the trauma of being ripped from the only family I’ve ever known. I don’t usually say the right thing.
I’m unprepared and unqualified, but the Lord called me anyway.
Jeremiah: Unqualified but Called
God called Jeremiah to something huge. He would be one of the great prophets, faithfully serving for forty years in the face of great persecution in a society that lived in complete moral failure. Jeremiah almost said, “No.”
“Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth’” (Jer. 1:6-7).
Jeremiah wasn’t completely wrong. He really was just a boy with no resume to support this appointment to prophet. He faced a nation overcome by apostasy—a calling that included great physical abuse and imprisonment. Jeremiah was a boy unprepared and unqualified for the task, but the Lord called him anyway.
God’s response to Jeremiah should be a great comfort to every mom who has been called down a path that’s seemingly too long or too hard.
“But the Lord said to me,
‘Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’;
for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the Lord’” (Jer. 1:7-8).’”
God promised that he would give Jeremiah the words to speak, and he would be with him as his deliverer when the nation of Israel turned against him. He wasn’t not “only a youth,” he was a man who spoke with the words of God.
Supernatural Provision in the Calling of Motherhood
When I look at my own calling to foster care, I find myself equally unfit for the task.
In the past few months, people have said, “It’s really great what you’re doing,” or, “Those kids will be so lucky to have you,” but I feel like these comments miss the greater hero. I’m not doing something great. I have so little capacity to do something great. Rather, the Lord is doing something great, and he’s using me in this wild and unexpected way. It’s not because I’m special or even remotely prepared.
The children who will enter my home are broken, hurting, and in need of a true Savior.
As believers, we sometimes forget that we’re living every day with the power of the Holy Spirit inside of us. While the rest of the world tries to face marriage, careers, social injustice, and motherhood on their own, believers are filled with the spirit of the living God. We’re not enough, but our God is more than enough.
We’re misguided when we say things like, “God won’t give you more than you can handle,” because that’s not really what he promises. I have no doubt that foster care is more than I can handle. What God promises, though, is he will be with us. He can handle anything.
God put the right words in Jeremiah’s mouth and filled him with power and strength. Today, I can face motherhood with confidence that he will give me the words when I need them. Paul says, “the Spirit helps us in our weakness” (Rom. 8:26). Luke says the Spirit clothes us “with power from on high” (Luke 24:48). Jesus says that the Spirit “gives life” (John 6:63). The Spirit gives us words, love, and power we can’t have on our own, and he gives it to us even in our weakness.
Motherhood is a huge calling, in whatever way you face it. Whether you’re navigating the teenage years, struggling in pregnancy, filling out state-mandated paperwork, or in the weeds of waiting, the Lord goes before you to help you accomplish the tasks to which he appoints you. Your personal qualifications are of little consequence if you’re following the call of God for your life. Even when you feel unprepared and unfit, even when you are unprepared and unfit, the Spirit of God can use you to accomplish his good plans.
Sally Ashburn is a freelance graphic designer, writer, and soon-to-be foster mom. She recently completed her M.A. in Ministry at Piedmont International University and plans to use her education as she pursues motherhood alongside an impassioned career. Sally and her husband, Zach, live in North Carolina where they serve young professionals at their church and are working to create a loving home for their future foster and adoptive children. You can find Sally on Instagram or on her website.