a little and a lot

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Telling the Story to Ourselves

I feel sad and overwhelmed today as the sunshine streams through my window on this pretty spring day.  And that's the way it is sometimes.

We'd like to think change is just good and not accompanied with stress and exhaustion and regression.  That healing is only triumph and will erase all trauma.  That progress means that you'll never get stuck again.  That you won't feel gloomy anymore once the sun is shining again.  

Last spring, we went through an intensive training program in order to become certified to teach a set of parenting strategies that we feel passionate about to others.  The program is called "Empowered to Connect," (ETC) and it was developed to support parents & caregivers of children "from hard places."  That phrase "from hard places," gets thrown around a lot as a popular phrase in adoption circles now, but in essence, it refers to a child who has experienced trauma of any form.  (That can include children who were involved in high risk/high stress pregnancies/births, spent time in the NICU/hospital, experienced childhood illnesses, or experienced any kind of traumatic event in their life.  That includes many more children than those who came to their families through adoption!)

We have loved and used this material since it was first presented to us when we were preparing to become adoptive parents.  We've read Dr. Karyn Purvis's book, "The Connected Child," multiple times, attended the Empowered to Connect Conference, participated in both the pre-adoptive ETC course as well as the post-adoptive parent Connect course, and then we were trained to be trainers.  We have had lots and lots and lots of practice with this material over the last six years.

And yet, I felt a heaviness yesterday as I attended a simulcast here in Memphis of the annual ETC conference.  No matter how much training I've received, how many books I've read, how many seminars I use to remind myself of the principals that promote connection and healing with my children...it's still really hard.  It's HARD.  Because trauma and pain and feelings and growing and BEING A PERSON is hard.  For everyone.

We've had a big year.  We're having a big year.  I joked the other day (in the context of forgetting to take a family picture on Easter) that "I don't do 2015."  So many plates are spinning and they're overwhelming and complex, and everything else has been pared down to the bare bones.  I didn't do my "12 Days of Christmas" this year or put ornaments on the tree or travel for New Year's or make Nick's chocolate peanut butter layer cake or compile Rhet's annual birthday video or do anything out of the ordinary for our 9th anniversary or hide eggs to hunt in the back yard.  We are keeping it so so SO simple.

And we're all feeling it, those big changes.  I've been honest with friends about how we're dealing with transition and regression with our kiddos.  But it struck me yesterday as I tried to hold the guilt and shame at bay while listening to experts talk about these parenting principles and values that I feel so passionate about...WE'VE regressed too.  Stress just does that.  It knocks you off your feet...pushes you back a couple steps.  I'm not peeing in my pants, but I might as well be...because I sure am regressing back to that yelling voice and angry eyes and lecture, lecture, lecturing...and so much despair that what I'm doing doesn't matter, that it's not making a difference, that I'm just spinning my wheels...

This is why the story matters.  This is why His Story matters.  We struggle to connect and and we repair our mistakes and we do our best, and then we do it all again the next day.  And through that mess, He is healing, restoring, redeeming.  WE are the WEAK ONES.  He is the strength.  We lose sight of the progress, and we feel like everything is sliding backwards, but He is writing the story.  And when we tell it, we see where we've come from and how we got here.

This whole time I've been thinking, "I need to tell them Brooklyn's story.  I need to tell them how God is at work in the world and in her life.  I need to tell them for His glory.  I need to tell them to strengthen their hearts and faith."  But this whole time...I've needed it.  I've been telling the story to myself.

He is not finished.  There is more to come.  And some of it will be so freaking hard.  And some if will be blindingly glorious.  But I'm going to keep telling this story...her story...His Story...to myself.  Because it's just what I need to keep doing this today. 


Kat said...

Thanks for sharing this, Jesse. Your vulnerability is beautiful. And just as He is writing your beautiful girls' stories, He is also writing your story. And witnessing Your love story with Jesus is just as transformational and inspiring to me as witnessing your girls'. Don't discount Your story.

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