Struggling With Being Enough
"The seas have lifted up, O Lord, the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves. Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea - the Lord on high is mighty." Psalm 93:3-4
Ya know how you hear a lot of stories about people's lives and how God changed them? Such as, "I used to be like _______ (fill in the blank), and then I became a Christian and now I'm changed." Well, what about after you've come to know the Lord? Maybe years after? Sometimes we aren't so open about our struggles. We feel like we should be more mature than that or, we shouldn't be struggling in these ways. A lot of times, through our storms in life, we put on our happy face and pretend like everything's fine.
But the truth is, if we allow Him, God spends our lifetime working in us, changing us, growing us, and drawing out what doesn't belong. We aren't grown as a newborn baby, and we aren't mature as a newborn Christian. God cares about forming our character and strengthening our muscles of faith. God wants us to be holy, like He is holy. God wants us to learn to trust Him. For Him to do that work, many times we have to go through struggles, because we don't always learn the easy way! (At least I don't!) And if we will be open about our struggles, especially with those that we are close with and we can trust to pray and fight alongside of us, it allows light to shine on them and weakens the power of darkness.
So, with that being said, I want to share how I had been struggling. (But first I'll give you a little back story, cause that's how I roll.)
I always want to live boldly for the purpose of fulfilling the call God has on my life. And one thing I've always felt the Lord leading me to do was adopt. Adoption has been on my heart since I was a little girl and watched Annie for the first time. Annie is the story of a poor little orphan girl who is eventually adopted by her rich father, Daddy Warbucks. He gives her all the love, support, and worldly goods she could ever need for the rest of her life. My heart broke when I realized that there were little children in this world with no one to love and take care of them. (It still does!)
My husband had the same passion to help hurting kids as I did. For years and years we waited and prayed for God's timing to make adoption a reality for us. We prayed for a child or children that we had never met. We loved them without even knowing who they were or what they would look like. Knowing God had called us to do this, and already being a parent to 5 other children, I felt confident that we were prepared and ready for any child the Lord would send to us.
I was a little idealistic and naive. It's one thing to love a dream and another thing to love a real child in your arms who has been screaming for days and days and days because of all they've been through. Adoption is not for the faint of heart. It certainly stretches your trust in God and strengthens your muscles of faith! Like all things worth doing, it's hard at times. When we first got our two boys placed with us, ages 6 months and 2 1/2, I cried every day for the first 2 weeks I think. I already had a baby girl who was 7 months, and a special needs daughter who had just turned 9, plus 3 older kids. It was so hard with our new little boys at first! Our sweet boys had been through so much and lost everything they had ever known, even if it was unhealthy and dangerous for them. They were scared and didn't know us. It was hard and a big adjustment for us all.
But over time, they got more comfortable and secure, and we all started to settle into this new life together. And eventually, a miracle happened, we became a family. Over the past 3 1/2 years the balm of our love started to heal their hurting souls. We've all changed and grown through this for the better.
We still had (and have!) difficulties. Children that have been abused, neglected and have been through the trauma of broken attachments have (of course!) consequences that go along with that. Even in utero abuse can happen through drug & alcohol use, maternal stress, etc., that can affect the bonding ability and personality of the child. Many times these kids have learned to rely on themselves to survive. They don't trust adults because adults hurt them. A few of the symptoms of kids who have been through this are (Taken from Parenting the Hurt Child):
· No impulse controls (frequently hyperactive)
· Lacks cause-and-effect thinking
· Lack of affection with parents on their terms (won't hug, kiss, or cuddle)
· Persistent nonsense questions
· Incessant chatter
· Inappropriate demanding and clingy behavior
· Lags in learning
· Abnormal speech patterns
· Little eye contact
· Superficially engaging and “charming” behavior to strangers
Even though they are so worth it, these are not always the easiest kids to love. Loving hurt kids is one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life. They don't heal overnight or even in a few months. A lot of times it's two steps forward, one step back. It continues to stretch me in every way. "Normal" ways of teaching these kids, doesn't always work. Even the dreaded "Mom look" may have no effect if they don't care if you'll be mad or not, or if they think they know better. It can be frustrating and exhausting at times. We make progress but then at other times it feels like we've got nowhere. Bad behavior can't be excused or overlooked, but at the same time, you can't be mad at them all the time if you want love, trust, and bonding to happen. As a mom, I was very confident in my abilities. I tried everything I knew to do to try and help teach my sons, but it shook my confidence and at times I felt like I should have never been a mother in the first place!
So, I started researching and reading books about kids who have been through deep hurts. I tried this suggestion or that suggestion. Sometimes things worked, sometimes they didn't. Often times, advice would contradict each other. I was constantly praying for wisdom and guidance. I felt like there was something I was lacking, something that was wrong with me. That if I could learn new techniques, new ways of parenting, then maybe I could help my sons more, that I could be a better mom to them. I kept praying, "Lord, change me! Help me be the mother they need!", begging God to "Equip me with what I need to do your will!" When things were going good, I felt good again. But when we would go through difficult times again, I lost my confidence and felt like a disappointment. I felt like I started out with the best intentions, but somewhere along the way I failed. I was just not enough.
I allowed my child's behavior to define who I was as a mother. You see, I was living like an orphan, lost and alone in this world. But the truth was, like Annie, I have a very rich Heavenly Father who gives me everything I need to do what He has called me to do. He has already equipped me with everything good for doing His will. Through all this, He pursued me and was teaching me the truth of the situation. Finally one day, He asked me, "What if you are enough just as you are?" I understood what He meant. That I didn't need to change and I didn't need to learn anything new or have to grow in different ways. What if who I am right now, what has already been placed in me, the techniques and ways that I love and mother my children is enough for all my kids? That I am enough, because He is enough for me. And He will guide me and lead me each step of the way. It was like a light bulb turned on in my head, and a wonderful freedom happened in my soul. I can just be me. And that's enough. God's faith in me restored my confidence in myself. After all, He gave me all these kids in the first place. He saw something in me to count me worthy and I could see it in myself again.
"I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service." 1 Tim. 1:12
God restored and refreshed my soul. Even when the mighty waves lifted up their voice against me, God was greater once again. And I hope through this story, you can be encouraged in whatever you are facing. Even if you are exactly where you are meant to be and you have difficulties and hard times, don't let those difficulties shake your confidence as I did. You are enough because God is enough for you! Isn't that powerful?