Sunday, August 30, 2015

In the Raw

You might not know it with the hat, glasses, make-up and accessories...

But behind the filter,
I feel unnaturally and painfully exposed.
Like layers and layers of flesh are being constantly removed.
Wounds are being reopened, sores resurfacing.
I feel inexperienced, untrained, and completely ignorant.
I'm not prepared, dressed, finished or refined.
I feel stripped, naked down to the soul.

But I'm going to be brutally and grossly frank.
I feel utterly and completely
(in every sense of the word)

Parenting in general can do this to you. But becoming instant parents to children that have been to hell and back and suffered more trauma in two years than you probably will experience in a lifetime can send you into a state of shock faster than lightening can strike.

When I signed up to become a parent through adoption, I knew the road wasn't an easy one. I read up, educated myself, found new friends that had traveled this path before, and prayed. Our first rodeo with adoption with a child from foster care was five years ago. Our son came to us as a 17 year old that towered above me, had pants falling off of him because he was so skinny, was super shy and quiet, and still struggling to learn the English language since he came to the states as a refugee with no education or schooling at all in his past. We struggled with language, culture, attachment, dealing with trauma and the effects it had, along with all of the normal 17 year old issues of being a senior in high school like graduating while still learning to read, learning to drive, learning about money and that there is not an unlimited tree it grows from, etc.

Five years later and we are still learning.
All of us.

We have grown. Deepened our understanding of what adoption means. What healing looks like. What a family can be. That forever is a process. And we are only five years into it.

I also learned that God was doing something to my life then. Cutting away at my soul. Making it bleed so He could heal it and mold it as only the perfect surgeon could. Rerouting arteries, stretching muscles, and amputating dead limbs.

He brought me to a state of feeling raw, numb to the outside world.
I felt alone, hurt, and sensitive to the touch.
Nobody understood, except Him.

-  -  -  -  -

So you would think that with our second adoption through foster care that I would know more, be more prepared, armed with more arrows in my bag and an impenetrable shield.

There is nothing more far from the truth.
In fact I have deepened my belief that I am perfectly flawed.

Two weeks ago, our world was beaten, twisted, knocked senseless, and displayed for the world to see in a distorted upside down picture.

Sure we had read all the thousands of papers, reports, talked to specialists, friends that had been down a similar road, and prepared ourselves the best we could. But it didn't matter.

The crap hit the fan the minute we stepped foot out of the car at home exactly two weeks ago and from that day forward, we've been living on a battlefield.

A battle of how to parent 3 children at home 3 drastically different ways.
I don't have a three-way lightbulb in my brain that I can switch from one setting to the next quick enough and this has lead to many melt-downs from both children and parents alike and LOTS of apologies, especially from me to them. I'm still learning, and I don't think I'll be able to stop anytime soon. Probably never.

Battles with severe effects from multiple traumas that leads to PTSD. 
My children might have fared better growing up in a war zone than the heartache they have experienced before coming to live with us. Trauma does wonders on a brain, heart, and soul. Just ask the soldier that just came back from their third tour of duty that have witnessed unspeakable events. And unfortunately, this can be labeled by others as severe ADHD, or can cause tons of sensory issues, or for some kids can turn into violent and angry outbursts, and for others a state of silent depression that can last hours. 

Battles with the opinions of others/my flesh...
I'm not a sacrificial parent that anyone should look up to. I have more flaws than most. My self image suffers when I get looks from strangers in the grocery store because I have a child laying on the floor crying and I have to raise my voice because normal talking doesn't get through the smoke screen in his brain that his trauma puts up in a heighten state. Can people hear the screaming from my kids while walking their dog in front of our house? What do they think about me? Has their opinion changed for the worse? But that's the problem right there. It's not about me! It's about parenting each child the way that will help them grow up to become a child that feels loved and part of our family. Why would I put what other people think above parenting my children the way they need to be parented?

And then there is the battle of the mind.
This battle is the worst kind because it's the one the enemy gladly and ferociously attacks.
The sound of this battle is something like...
Why did I do this? I'm not cut out for this. I don't love my children. Why don't I love my children? Will I ever learn to even like them? Was this a mistake? Why did we do this?

And those words are daggers to the heart and can eat me up if I let them, because they are the devil's way of creeping into my soul and feeding me lies. They can consume me if I let them.

The truth is, I didn't sign up for the perfect life I wanted.
I thought I did when I went off to college, got married, 
and had my little goal sheet I checked off each year.

But really I signed up for following Christ - to the ends of the earth.
It's painful, dirty, messy, ugly, full of heartache, tough, 
excruciating, defeating, utterly exhausting,
and leaves me feeling raw.

But it is only in the raw
that Christ can do what He wants with my life,
if I let Him.

"Yet this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail. 
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness."
-Lamentations 3:22-23

Five years from now, I'm sure I'll still be learning, calling friends for advice, and on my knees in prayer, desperate for my Savior. But what I have learned is that in this raw state, God does vast amounts of work on my heart and soul. And through great pain and refinement, I come out of the fire closer to Him.

My life is not about me.
It's about the process.
And although the night might be long and full of many tears,
praise and joy comes in the morning.

I'm starting to see the light of the morning, little by little.
Tomorrow is a new day,
full of new beginnings, blessings, and a fresh start.
And for that I am grateful.

"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."
-2 Corinthians 4:16-18 


  1. Wow, Shelley... Just wow. Thank you so much for sharing this. I know I'm not dealing with adopting children, but teaching here in Honduras, dealing with language barriers, disrespect, orphaned students and behavior issues etc., and through all of it trying to love them despite how frustrated you get with them, I can totally relate. The same questions have run through my mind. Am I even making a difference? Why am I doing this? etc.
    You are a wonderful woman for what you do, and you are called to love those kids. Even though the road is difficult, God has called you, and what's more equipped you, to love these children back to health. I am definitely praying for you in this journey.

  2. You are living loudly and beautifully the dying daily that Christ calls us to. You are walking in the messy "Even if" and keeping your eyes on where your true help comes from. I admire you, thank God for the home you've made for these kids and pray for you for strength and endurance. Hugs from a FTL sister!

  3. Continuing to pray for you all!