No Man Is An Island . . . Nor Should He Be

Last October my wife and I made the prayerful decision to become foster parents.  After going through the process and becoming licensed, we received our first two foster children two months ago.  We knew this wasn’t going to be easy, but I can honestly say few things have been more difficult in our life than this.  We even began wondering if we had made a good (or more importantly, the right) decision.

For two months now, we’ve been navigating these uncharted waters.  We’ve read articles, blog posts, even entire books.  We’ve listened to podcasts.  But no matter what, we felt like we were alone, on an island.

This past weekend, though, I was reminded of something.  We’re not alone.  On Saturday, we attended a conference for foster parents.  At this conference, we met like-minded, like-hearted (and sometimes fainthearted) foster parents who shared or had shared our struggles; who had similar questions and concerns; who were seeking support.

At a time when we were feeling (but didn’t want to admit to feeling) dismayed, hearing others’ [eerily similar] stories, reaffirmed our decision to foster.  It has given us the strength and encouragement to carry on. We were reminded that this is worth it.

I share this anecdote (my 11-year-old daughter just taught me that word) with you because I was reminded this weekend just how invaluable having a support system is.  Although it was at a fostering convention that I was reminded of this, I can’t help but think how equally important it is for the achievement of health and fitness goals.

If you’ve committed to eat better or exercise more, i.e., change your lifestyle, things will get difficult.  Change is hard, period.  At some point, you will become discouraged, feel disheartened, lack motivation, and even begin wondering if it’s worth it.  It is in these moments when you need support.  Moments when you need someone to talk you off the proverbial ledge.

Where do you look for this support, though?  Can it be anyone?  Some, or better yet, all the following people should be considered as part of our support system.

A coach.  A [great] coach knows what they are coaching, has done what they are coaching, and has successfully coached others.  They’ve been where you’re committed to going, both with themselves and others.  Most likely, they’ve addressed and answered many of the challenges and questions you have or will have.

A friend.  Be careful.  We’re talking about a real friend, not just any, e.g., Facebook, friend.  You wanna enlist the kinda friend that will, yes, encourage you, but will also tell you if you’re not being the person you’ve asked them to hold you accountable to be, i.e., if you’re being a bonehead.

A family member.  Be careful here, too.  Sadly, not all family members will be supportive of you and your goals.  A supportive family member will tell you the truth but will do it in love.  If a family member is supportive, they themselves will make sacrifices for your success.

A “tribe”.  Okay, this is a trendy word.  It simply means, a group of people that share a common goal or interest.  Although I’m not a Crossfitter, Iron Triber, Orange Theorist, or Weight Watcher, each of these groups gets this “tribe” mentality.  You, too, may not be interested in joining one of these specific groups, but take a page from their book and find others who are on a similar journey as you.

You can’t do this alone. We can’t do this alone. We weren’t meant to do this alone.  Begin enlisting your supporters.  Those that, when the going gets tough, will help you keep going.

My family and I have already had lunch with one of the foster families (friend) we met Saturday.  They’ve been fostering for two years now and have much to share.  Although we’ve much to learn, we’ve already been greatly encouraged by them.  We’ve been made aware of several foster support groups (“tribe”), as well as organizations that specialize in working with foster families (coach).  And if it weren’t for the loving families both my wife and I came from, I can’t imagine we would’ve ever answered “the call” to foster.  I know in a couple more months it’s quite possible we’ll again feel discouraged, but when we do, we now know where to turn!  When you get discouraged, where will you turn?