Thursday, December 02, 2010
Healing. I marvel at how it unveils itself, gently, gradually. What brings it about? What is the miracle antibiotic that restores a child to wholeness? I have yet to figure it out, and yet I witness this amazing process daily.
I do know one thing, and it is something I have come to understand over time and with a multitude of mistakes. It can NOT be about me. There are times when it is hard not to make it personal, when stepping backward and allowing the distance necessary to evaluate and guide is the most difficult thing ever. That's because it hurts. But if it hurts me, how much more does it hurt a child who does not have the emotional skills, awareness or vocabulary to give voice to their own pain?
The wall Angela had built up brick by heavily mortared brick over the preceding week was completely removed by our conversation on Saturday. Within hours I had my warm, funny girl back, and she has remained that way ever since, being almost giddy on Tuesday when we took a school day to decorate the house. It was Angela and Olesya's first time to transform their own home into a true family Christmas haven, and they went at it with gusto. There is garland strewn literally all the way down the hall, and both the boys and girls have strand upon strand of Christmas lights wrapped around their walls and beds. We examined each ornament and the boys and I reminisced about each one...what it signified, when we got it. Reverently, each one was removed from the storage box and hung on the tree, including the one we bought 2 years ago for them as we waited for them to come home. There it was, 2 girls arm in arm, and seeing their reaction to it I was so happy that we have made it a tradition to purchase an ornament for each of the kids in the years we awaited their arrival. The girls were both touched to see how they had been part of our family long before they actually stepped foot in the house.
Belonging is something we all yearn for, and some of us spend a lifetime seeking that sort of unconditional acceptance. If lucky, we spend our childhoods enfolded in the loving arms of a family who nurtures and cherishes us. If not so lucky, we may be blessed to recreate it in other ways with the next generation, or with close friends. Sadly, we often fail to reach for that acceptance in the place that will fully fill the hole in our heart...the Spirit awaits us, arms open wide, ready to grab us in the biggest bear hug we have ever had.
And that Spirit? Is it magical? Is it mystical? What IS that thing called Spirit? What does it look like?
It may come as a surprise to discover it looks like...you. Me. All of us. Ours are the arms the Spirit uses to hug those who are yearning so deeply. It is through us that the Spirit often speaks.
If Dominick or I are able to bring about healing for our children, believe me, it is not we who have the wisdom. I was not built with that kind of intuition. It is solely due to allowing God to speak through us, it is putting aside our own heartache and recognizing we have work to do, and we need God to do it for us. And we realize we are still at the bottom of the ladder, and have a long way to climb, but this weekend was a big step upwards for Angela.
Our older kids need to know it is OK to grieve what was lost, what was left behind. We tend to see it in a different light, after all, we swooped in and "saved" them from a life of misery and a disastrous future, right? We forget that their lives were filled with relationships and experiences that can not nor should not be washed away. Our girls have many wonderful memories of people and events at the orphanage. Is it the same as growing up in a family? Of course not, but it IS a family of sorts, and it is so hard to leave that all behind even if what you are being offered is far better in the long run. Older adoptees need to know they are supported in that grief, and that we can handle it and won't take it the wrong way. Angela needed permission to express what was in her heart, and she also needed the words provided for her, as she simply couldn't articulate it and also was fearful to do so out of concern for our feelings, which is quite special in itself, isn't it? Within hours it was so clear that she felt a huge sense of relief, and a burden had lifted. It was also a moment that drew us even closer to one another...but it required me to be vulnerable and open as well. It is sort of a mutual trust between each other, that we will be careful of each other's hearts. Each time we go through these emotionally charged interactions, we reap rewards. They are hard earned, but worth it.
The fact is that I can not believe how far we have come as a family in less than a year. The incredible level of trust and commitment, especially after our supremely difficult beginning, is extraordinary and a gift. Love takes time, healing takes time, and we owe our children the space to do what they need to do, be it express anger, grief, frustration, whatever is trapped inside. If we offer them that with full grace, as we have been taught by the most Gracious One, we will sometimes be blessed to witness a miracle.
I think there are many families out there just like us, witnessing little "mini-miracles" every single day. There is healing taking place all around us, although it may be hidden behind all the messiness that is necessary to accomplish it.
To quote the words of the popular song by Diamond Rio..."What a beautiful mess I'm in."
During these waning days of summer, new adults are slowly blossoming and, for one, childhood is very gradually beginning its tentative wave...