I’m originally from the Midwest. About six years ago, we transplanted to the South. We expected a change in weather; what we didn’t anticipate is how much influence the weatherman has over our state!
When he speaks, people listen...and spring into action! I’m telling you, if he forecasts a 3% chance of two snowflakes five days from now, you can bet that the grocery store will be cleared of all bread and milk, schools will be canceled, and businesses will be closed. If he raises the chance to 4%, the bottled water will likely all be gone, too.
It’s because we’re blessed with pretty great weather year-round. Getting drastic weather (and no, 100° weather with 100% humidity doesn’t qualify as drastic here) is pretty rare, so when it’s forecasted, it completely alters life temporarily. They’ve called for some strong storms here today, so schools were dismissed early “out of an abundance of caution.”
When I was a kid, I remember standing at the bus stop in single-digit weather with a ski mask on, praying the bus came before my eyebrows and eyelashes frosted over (it’s a thing- breathing out in extreme cold into a ski mask channels the moisture up to your eyelashes and eyebrows, where it freezes). Starting with the first day above 50° in the spring, tornado warnings were common. I spent far too much of my childhood hunkered down in the hallway with a textbook “teepee’d” over my head, listening to the storm siren drone on. (Can we honestly consider that a textbook wasn’t actually going protect much if the school came crashing down on me!?)
When school here is cancelled or dismissed early “out of an abundance of caution” due to a chance of inclement weather, I admit I roll my eyes and sigh a little. But I get it; when we’re talking about the safety and well-being of children, it’s best to err on the side of caution.
As I thought about that phrase, I realized we live much the same way...to our detriment. Out of an abundance of caution, we don’t apply for that promotion. Out of an abundance of caution, we don’t risk being vulnerable. Out of an abundance of caution, we pray status-quo prayers. Out of an abundance of caution, we avoid doing hard things. But out of an abundance of caution, we often miss out on God’s best for us.
If I’m to be honest, it’s why I was hesitant to become a foster parent 13 years ago. I didn’t know the first thing about parenting, let alone parenting a child who had experienced deeply traumatic things. What if I was a terrible dad? What if it was as bad as I feared and the child ransacked our house? What if a child made false allegations against us? What if the child didn’t like me? What if their needs took time away from things I enjoyed? So out of an abundance of caution, I said no.
The reason a chance of snow causes such mayhem here is because our state isn’t equipped to deal with snow. Honestly. I’ve never seen a snow plow here- not on the road, parked in a Highway Department garage, or even in a picture. If we were to get any accumulation of snow, there would be no means by which to clear the snow and spread salt to melt ice. Having cars and busses on the roads in those conditions would be catastrophic! Out of necessity, we operate “out of an abundance of caution.”
Unfortunately, many people say ‘no’ to fostering or adopting “out of an abundance of caution.” Fear and feeling ill-equipped makes this our default response. All across the country there’s a severe shortage of foster homes. In our state, we’re short by about 2000 foster homes. The number of children waiting to be adopted in the United States would fill TWO Super Bowl stadiums. The need is great.
While it doesn’t make sense for South Carolina to invest in a bunch of snow plows, it does make sense to invest in children’s lives. Write down your top three “cautions” to exploring foster care or adoption and find out how to address them. Pray and seek input from your faith community. Make friends with a foster family, follow some adoption bloggers, and check out AdoptUSKids to learn about the kids in your state. Reconsider your no. In fact, it’s probably wise to take a closer look at all the areas of our life where we’re operating “out of an abundance of caution” and recalibrate.
I’m so glad I took a risk, moved out of my comfort zone, and said yes to fostering 12 years ago. And just to be clear, I’ve had plenty of moments when I was a terrible dad, when my kids have ransacked my house, when they haven’t liked me very much, and when I had to sacrifice my leisure to meet their needs. Despite all of that, I can’t imagine having missed all this...out of an abundance of caution.