“I never celebrated Thanksgiving before.”
It was a conversation stopper for sure. We uneasily glanced at one another around the table. The eyes of our biological children dimmed with this truth. My husband shook his head sadly while I grappled with my surprise…and wondered why I was so surprised.
Moments like this reach right past my comfortable layers and pierce my heart, right where it needs pricked most. Poked and prodded out of its naive comfort.
Because I’m a bit weary. So weary. I’ve begun to take the behaviors personally, letting each misbehavior speak disrespect and purposefulness to me. Instead of searching for the need underneath. I want a rational answer for irrational behavior…a response that ‘makes sense.’
Often people sing me praises about my patience and “special” heart. But the very real truth is the only thing I’ve done right in this whole fostering journey is say “yes.” The rest of the time, I’ve been led kicking and screaming, worrying about my needs…my rights…my comfort. I’ve shot angry words through clenched teeth, arrows to tender, rebelling hearts. I’ve dismissed meeting needs in my exhaustion. I’ve sat down and opened Facebook up instead of reading a book to a child who needs extra time.
I’m not sharing this to fish for compliments or receive validation. I’m simply sketching a small piece of this life…because every good thing in it, anything “I” might accomplish or do well…is through God’s grace and love alone. When I shut down “me” enough to let Him act, the result can be quite beautiful. The rest of the time is this chaotic dance of me learning to let Him lead.
At this point in our dance, we are in a season of learning. These children, they’ve been with us for six short months. We started our learning about them about three months prior to that. We’ve just begun to uncover their truths and needs and secrets. We are needing to lean on God heavily as we trust Him to shed just enough light to meet each encounter, each tantrum, each behavior with wisdom and love.
Because the truth is, our life is as strange and frightening to these children as their past is to us. We are surrounded by family and friends who support us and want to love these children. We have holiday get togethers and presents and good food and decorations. And to us that is a lot of good...to these children? It’s sometimes just a lot. A lot to process…a lot to filter. For children with a very sensitive response to changed atmospheres…children with past food trauma…these coming months with the holidays fast approaching, will usher in a new season.
We are entering a season of sensitivity to recognizing and meeting these children’s needs while keeping intact important holiday traditions for our biological children. Honestly, I don’t know what that will look like. But I’m choosing to trust that God will show us the way. More than ever, we will be shifting our focus from the preparations and baking and presents…to just. being. present.
“I’ve never celebrated Thanksgiving.”
And never will we have such a beautiful opportunity to teach a little one what Thanksgiving is all about…while we breathe prayers of gratefulness for the opportunity to do so.