I've been thinking about this post I wrote a year ago. It may be my favorite post I've ever written, as it reveals the journey God has taken us on in rethinking our approaches to parenting, our children and their behaviors, and the correlation between the two when grace is intertwined.
So many of us begin the adoption, fostering or even parenting journey with the quiet, unvoiced longing for our child to be "normal." One day a dear friend prayed that God would allow our children to be shaped and formed in the ways that He had for them to be in order to bring His purposes to earth, including making us more like Jesus. That prayer transformed our lives.
The reality in the adoption and foster care world is there is no "normal" child, and few of our biological children can even be categorized as that. These children have experienced losses beyond what almost any of us can comprehend, and those losses have impacted them physically, emotionally, and mentally. It is our job not to "fix their behaviors," but to create safe places as we lead them towards healing.
A few weeks ago, Benjamin and I were sitting on the back porch together. Many of you know Benj has many struggles, as well as some health issues. He sat by me and said, "Mommy, my mind works different than anyone else in the world, but I think I may just be the only normal person."
Parenting children from hard places, whether that be life situations or medical struggles, is a journey to embrace as we empower them to discover that they are not defined by the normal the world presents, but they are defined by the story of God's glory that He is weaving through their lives. Though the world may see screams and tantrums, there are shafts of beauty that we cling to in the midst.
To the Lady in the Grocery Aisle: July, 2012
You stood behind me today as the line grew longer, and you watched as her little chubby hands tried to slip the Juicy Fruit gum into her pocket.
You watched her flinch, as I gently told her no. Then you gaped as she kicked me in the shin over and over and threw herself onto the floor.
You shifted as the clerk waited patiently, and you slightly tensed as the line behind you grew longer, but I just stood.
You attempted to encourage me in your own way, "My, you have your hands full."
I ignored you. But I wanted to say, This is easy. It's only one-sixth of my workload.
You saw the tantrum and the crying and wondered at my mothering techniques.
I saw my little Diva regulate her emotions. I saw her stand and look me in the eye as I asked, "Baby, did you try to steal the gum?"
You saw my little rascal steal and flail.
I saw her trust me enough to look in my eyes and say, "Yes, Mama Catie. I stole it."
I understand your feelings and your thoughts. But you see, you saw the problem and the failure. There was once when I would have too.
But today, I saw my little girl for this season trust me with the truth, even if it was scary.
And that progress is worth celebrating.