The Great Tomato Conspiracy and the Most Common Objection to Foster Care

There is a conspiracy afoot.

I know what I’m about to write will generate some disagreement, but it’s important that we discuss it.

“They” tell us that ketchup is made from Tomatoes.  I don’t believe them.

You see, ketchup is yummy.  Tomatoes are not.

Everyone knows the more ketchup, the better! Who says that about tomatoes? Hardly anyone ever. (Though I will acknowledge that some of you do like plain tomatoes for reasons I can’t explain).

Most eight-year-olds don’t scrape the ketchup from their hamburger. However, most eight-year-olds do immediately eject the tomato from their hamburger before proceeding (and eight-year-olds know what’s up).

So, I just don’t see how ketchup could possibly be made from tomatoes.

There are other things like this that just don’t seem to line up. Pickles are another great example.  Pickles are AMAZING. Cucumbers are NOT amazing. How in the world do you take something that does not taste very good, soak it in vinegar (a liquid that clearly also does not taste very good) and VOILA! Pickles!!

Friends, these are the great mysteries of our universe.

And here’s one more:

When Jesus came to earth in human flesh, he came not only to tell us about love, but to demonstrate it. His demonstration of love included responding graciously to inconvenience when people crowded into his personal time. His demonstration of love included caring for people others had rejected. His demonstration of love involved him being mocked, misrepresented and injured without retaliating. His demonstration of love included a willingness to die for people he hadn’t ever come face to face with. Jesus showed us that willingly absorbing pain for the sake of others is a huge part of what it means to love our neighbor.

As Christians we all understand that we as humans must endure painful things. But what if Jesus was showing us more than simply a strategy for enduring it. What if he was showing us that sometimes obedience means actually choosing to move toward it . . . for the sake of another.

Our bodies and our brains are conditioned to run from pain, not pursue it. Pain and pursuit don’t seem like they should go together.   But sometimes that’s what love does.

The most common objection people have to the idea of becoming a foster parent is that it would be too hard to grow attached to a child and then see that child returned to a situation that we feel uneasy about at best and terrified of at worst.   Many don’t consider foster parenting because they can’t imagine being able to handle the pain.

I get that. Enduring that kind of pain seems impossible. I want to believe that most of the time when people say this, it is not necessarily a lack of willingness to do hard things, but rather a core belief that they simply are too emotionally frail to handle this degree of pain. I think there is also an underlying assumption there that people who choose foster parenting are simply emotionally stronger than they are.

I don’t think that’s necessarily true. One foster mom I knew talked about how every time a child was returned home or moved to a relative placement she would go to bed and weep for 2-3 days vowing to never take another placement. And then, through strength that only comes from the Savior who loved us enough to press into pain for our sake, she would get another phone call and say yes.

Pursuing pain to help alleviate it for others is part of what it means to love. We willingly absorb pain into our lives so that 8-year-olds don’t have to. That’s what love looks like.

And if you want to love that 8-year-old even further, tell the person at the counter to hold the tomatoes.

This post originally appeared in our Foster Roster e-newsletter which is delivered each Friday. We keep it short and sweet and fill it with practical articles, videos, blog posts and other tools for leaders like you working to provide more than enough for kids and families in foster care.  To sign up, go to