One of my favorite things to do each night before climbing into bed for the night is to do one last check on the crew. There is something so beautiful (fact: they are sleeping) about a sleeping child. The glow of their night light illuminating their little face delights my mama heart to the core. Bedtime in our home has not always been peaceful, we struggled through adjusting to sleeping in our rooms, beds, through the night, struggling with nightmares and trying to fall asleep. Each night and child bringing a variety of needs through the night, I saw hours that I didn’t know existed. During my quest of motherhood, I often wondered what those nights before living with me must of been like? Did they sleep? Were they ever fully able to relax and experience peaceful rest?
Trauma takes its effect on the body, even when the memories fade and the details get blurry the body still remembers, it is hardwired to react to the first sign of trouble. I have loved watching my babies go from struggling and fighting sleep to slipping into restful sleep each night. The key factor for that is they feel safe, no longer having to protect themselves from all of the monsters chasing them. These past few weeks, I have been acutely aware that these kiddos trust me. They can rest easy knowing now there is someone fighting for them, healthy parents stay awake so they don’t have to.
It took months of situations, scenarios, questions, fears and conversations for them to discover I could be trusted. Post adoption we have had another wave of testing, as if they are making sure this isn’t too good to be true. Early in our journey together I had to repeat the phrase often, “I know you don’t trust me, but I need you to let me show you I am safe.”
One of my kiddos has the knack of remembering things. They collect mistakes and when they are needed in battle, my perceived and at times actual letdowns become the arsenal against me. We have had to discuss this often, I explain I am not perfect and I will fail, I need lots of grace but beyond all of that I am not going anywhere. Their learned default is to assume people can’t be trusted and a whiff of letdown in the air kicks the bondage of self preservation on and the walls go up.
We use the imagery in our home that trust is like a bridge, a lie can destroy a few feet of the bridge, with hard work it can be rebuilt over time but each lie sets us back. My crew knows by now, I am not going anywhere and I am committed to them but when I let them down or they tell a lie our bridge is damaged. A new part of this exercise we have talked about is remembering that our whole structure is not ruined each time a mistake is made, over time a foundation of trust has been built. The ebb and flow of trust affects the length and stability of the bridge but not the foundation.
What a beautiful truth I have discovered, I don’t have to fight so hard. Much like the ways I fight for my kids and their safety, God who knit me together in my mother’s womb fights for me. I realized that over the last several years somewhere along the way my trust bridge with God has been damaged. It has happened over time, in the moments when God didn’t answer my prayer the way I thought He should, or when He let me down in my limited view of what all is going on. I have mastered the art of fake trust, spouting trust platitudes yet at the core I have discovered I feel the need to be actively trying to make things happen. Looking at that way of thinking through a tangible example with my kids, it would be like if they didn’t feel that I wouldn’t actually follow through with something, they institute a backup plan, just in case. As a mama, that would break my heart to think my children thought they had to help me along and what does that do in my kids? So, what does that lie do in my own soul, if I think I can actually affect the outcome of a situation because I made sure to always have a backup plan, then do I actually trust God with my future, do I actually believe He is good? Much like a similar situation would my kids really trust me if they felt the need to be ready at a moment’s notice to institute an alternative plan? Is it trust if they are actively working for something?
Wrapping up my twenties has showed me that I spent most of it trying to do more and be more in hopes that it was changing the course of things. Don’t get me wrong I don’t believe that we are to sit by and let life just coast by we are called to be active but there has to be an element of accepting what is and embracing the journey with an open hand, living and loving well. It is not okay for us to sit comfortably by and watch life happen, we are called to take part. There is a difference between the mindset of trust and the mindset of inactivity. Trust means, I am going to actively move forward on the path I am on and come what may, I will take each step in stride. Inactivity means, sitting by never pursuing the calling, never taking the steps down the path.
This is no easy practice, it takes a daily surrender of the things I hold most dear. The stake becomes greater once our hearts get invested. A shift happens and things we once held nicely on the palm of our hand are suddenly clutched in our white knuckle fists.
Following a difficult season I discovered I was living my days, white fisted grasping at whatever I could hold on to. I don’t sit and trust well, this has brought about some of my favorite strengths but I must admit that when it is of out whack in my life, nothing but brokenness oozes. It shows up in my motivation, strength, parenting, relationships but also fuels the lies of worthlessness, love, value and perfection. It is a balancing act, the key to trusting well, is to settle myself in the reality that true trust comes from letting go.
This can only be achieved when I realize that I actually don’t have control over most of these circumstances. People make choices, we hurt each other, the system is broken, children get hurt. It’s not because I have failed in some way, it is all part of the journey, I must accept where I am at, find peace but always pursue health.I am not alone in this and can rest peacefully in the fact that God is keeping watch over me so once I wake, I can do my part and move mountains.