Fostering Love

As a mother, my heart turns backflips when my children get along. My two boys are 27 months

apart and were thick as thieves in their rambunctious toddler years. The two were so close they

wanted to share a room together instead of staying in their own.

When the teenage years hit, the fighting began. More times than I can count I felt like a referee in

a boxing match stepping in between arguments and physical blows. Their personalities couldn’t have

been more opposite. Rhett was an old soul, methodical. Mason would fly by the seat of his pants only

thinking about the moment.

Two years ago, when Rhett was 18 and Mason was 16, their relationship exploded, the aftereffects were toxic. To my surprise, Rhett, who was always my cool and level-headed child, resisted their relationship the most. It was like Rhett had some deep-rooted anger towards his younger brother that he couldn’t shake. Concerned I would ask him about it and I always got the same answer. He would say Mason was just his immature little brother that needed to grow up. My heart ached from their discord.

One day last spring Rhett called to tell me he would be late for dinner because of a tutoring appointment. Soon afterwards Mason called to tell me he too would be late because he was going to the soccer game after school. As I waited for Rhett to arrive, Mason came walking through the door.

“Where’s Rhett?”

“Oh, I saw him at the soccer game. He looked right at me but didn’t speak.” The more he talked the more frustrated I became.

Not long afterwards Rhett walked into the den. “Why are you late? I thought you would have gotten home before Mason.”

“I went to the soccer game,” he said slumping onto the couch.

“I know. Mason said he saw you. He also said you didn’t speak or wave to him.”

Rhett bolted up. Pointing his finger at me and raising his voice he shouted, “Look, I’ve had a heck of a week with school and I don’t have time to foster a relationship with my immature brother right now. You can lecture me about this tomorrow.”

I just sat there in shock as I watched my first-born storm out of the room. Rhett had never talked back to us before. I looked over at my husband whose reaction mirrored mine. We were both floored by his behavior. I didn’t go after him or call him back but let him walk out without saying anything. I would take my anger and disappointment to bed.

As I was pulling into the driveway after work the next day I spotted Rhett’s truck. I could feel the anger washing over me again. After saying a short prayer in my car, I went into the house and made my way to the kitchen. Soon Rhett came in and I watched him pace back and forth. I could tell he was nervous, so I kept quiet until he broke the silence by apologizing for his outburst.

I didn’t say much at first, but then I unleashed all my thoughts and emotions.

“I’m so tired of your behavior towards Mason. I’ve had it! I’m not asking you to be his best friend, but he is your brother, he is blood. Can’t you at least act like the mature, older brother and try to have a relationship with him?”

Rhett sat and listened to me without any emotion as I pleaded for his relationship with his brother to be restored. When he saw that I was finished, he got up, hugged me, and told me he loved me. Having poured my heart out to him I stood there as he left the room.

The following Sunday we went to church as a family. As we made our way to the right-hand side of the sanctuary, where we seemed to always gravitate, I noticed the family behind us had a disabled older child. Nestled in his wheelchair he would have an occasional outburst like someone who had cerebral palsy, but he was never obnoxious or defiant. His parents kept him occupied with an iPad or gaming system.

After church, we went to eat at our favorite breakfast place. It’s something we usually do as a family, but this particular day Mason said he needed to go home and finish a school assignment and then go to work.

The restaurant was packed—people everywhere. The only table open was near the cash register at the front door. It’s not a place we like to sit but were happy to get a table so we could order and get home.

As we were finishing our meal the family that sat behind us in church came walking up to our table. As the Mom pushed David, their son, to the table he smiled and began fist pumping all of us and talking like we were his long lost friends.

“Don’t you attend Christ Community Church?” his mom asked.

“Yes, we were just there.”

After the introductions the family began making their way out of the restaurant, but the mom came back to our table.

“I’m so sorry we interrupted your meal, but David has really come out of his shell this past year since we have been fostering him.”

“He isn’t your son?” I never dreamed he wasn’t theirs.

“No, I had a disabled son who died a few years ago at 13 and I wanted to foster a child with special needs like my son because I missed those times with him.”

Silence . . .

Wow! Did I hear her right? Watching her walk out the door I sat in disbelief. In that silence Rhett and I let this dear lady’s words pierce our hearts. Foster. She used the word foster. The Spirit within me reminded me that Rhett had used this same word when complaining about his brother. The Spirit also prompted me to remind him of this so I looked into his eyes and I said, “If she can foster a relationship and love a child that’s not her own, forget that he’s disabled, don’t you think you could foster a relationship with your brother?”

Rhett grinned and said, “Yes, I believe I can.”

There it was. A grin. Rhett’s sheepish grin that I’d been waiting to see on my son’s face since he lashed out at my husband and me about his brother. And if that wasn’t enough to warm this mother’s heart, he said, “Yes, I believe I can.”

God showed up through the mundane in a divine way through David and his mother. He used another family to show us what special relationships look like and how important they are—so important that they need to be nurtured, yes, even fostered. And this momma’s prayer? It was answered. He restored my heart and a brother’s bond, for with God, “nothing is impossible.”