Gap Standers. You know who you are.
Today's blog is dedicated to you. Because of your willingness to "stand in the gap", children have a chance to push the reset button. And parents get a respite from the battle. Your angel wings are hard to detect, because you fly under the radar -- not wanting to draw attention to yourself. Instead, you focus on a child who needs you for a time and a season. You float grace toward that kid in a special way -- a way his natural parents can't always muster. Generously, you offer up meals, advice, a bed, some down time, boundaries, affection, laughter, and gas money. You do this, well, because his mom can't do it right now. She's suddenly single, or unemployed, or for a myriad of reasons she can't find her bearings. Her compass is out of commission and she drifts over to you, Safe Harbor. You become the place where she safely drops anchor, hunkers down, and releases her child to your outstretched arms.
Nobody reads about your accomplishments in the paper. You will never be on Who's Who in Gap-Standing USA. Some days, you don't get a shred of gratitude, even though you've basically moved heaven and earth to keep that kid from falling into the abyss.
I first heard this pithy term, "Stand in the Gap", at a Promise Keepers Conference in Denver. I was covering the event as a radio host. "You stand in the gap!" the speaker bellowed, "you are a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, a figure of discipline when needed. You walk carefully, reinforce the truth, applaud small accomplishments and overlook offenses. Somebody needs you to stand in the gap for their child! Be aware of this, be ready, and please please be obedient when it's your turn. Your season of vigilance may be for a week, or a year or a lifetime; the impression you make is eternal. Do not expect recognition - just be ready to reach across that chasm and give support to a fragile family. You'll know when it's your turn. You'll just know."
I've never forgotten that speech. How could I possibly know I would need a Gap Stander in my sea of grief? You know who you are, and I hope you're reading this because you are my unsung hero, my Mom-in-the-Gap, my ally, my voice that cannot be heard any other way. You have given shelter, food, unconditional love, safety, stability and, most of all, laughter. You were the first to call and tell me you noticed a smile, a genuine smile, break like dawn all over my child's face. This was life to me, hope to my aching heart.
Thank you. If ever I get my turn at Gap Standing, I hope I will be as selfless and amazing as you.