IKEA holds a unique spot in my heart. It has never failed to offer me a furniture or home goods solution that both met my needs and fit my budget. In fact, I think IKEA could provide a unique framework for pre-marital counseling. The betrothed couple could be required to plan, design, furnish, and decorate their new shared bedroom solely with products from IKEA. Counseling sessions would be structured throughout the process, and the couple would have a chance to practice everything from budgeting to compromise to forgiveness. (Lots and lots of forgiveness if my marriage’s history with IKEA is any indication.)
Now that I’m a foster parent, IKEA is practically my fifth Support Friend. Need a bed? IKEA’s got it. Need another set of sheets? IKEA’s got them. Need a fluffy, soft stuffed animal? IKEA’s even got those!
I promise this isn’t an advertisement for IKEA. The store is simply on my mind, because I just finished building another bed in our home.
A few days ago, we got a call we didn’t expect – a young man that we care about had been placed in foster care. He’s outside of our expected age range, and, even though we had space in our home, we didn’t have a proper bed. Without hesitation, I donned a face mask and drove to Palo Alto.
I walked through that massive warehouse and prayed for this young man. He was no longer a nameless, faceless foster youth. He wasn’t an ambiguous anecdote or a harrowing statistic. He was a teenager who appears in my Google photos. He was a young man that I’ve known for more than a year. He was a boy sitting in a “welcome center” waiting for a family to say, “Welcome home.”
Over the past several years, we’ve received placement calls for every age range: newborn, toddler, preschooler, elementary student, pre-teen, and now, teenager.
Every time we’ve accepted a placement in a new age range, I’ve built a new bed: cribs, toddler beds, twin beds, bunk beds, and now, a sturdy bed for a boy who is becoming a man.
I haven’t yet discovered how to cure the ills that make foster care necessary, but I have figured out how to read IKEA instructions.
So as long as a child needs a safe place to lay their head, I will continue to build the bed.
“Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
God, give us the courage to build the beds. Instill in us a holy spirit of hospitality. Create in our homes safe spaces for children to heal and grow. Create in our communities safe spaces for families to recover and reunify. Give us the ability to bear one another’s burdens and offer each other rest. Give us the humility to rely solely on you in these efforts and to give you all the glory for the results. Amen.