May 19, 2019

Always the plan

I have been ghosting all of you the past few months. What started with giving some freedom to someone I thought I could trust . . . ended in a reevaluation of what and who I want to be, and what I want this blog and my non profit A Reason to Stand to become. I have never been surrounded by so many “business” people driven by power and money, than I have the past six months; masked in the form of genuine hearts willing to help.

It has been healing to step back and compare watching others try to take something that didn’t belong to them, and realize that I still had a lot of pain from another time someone came and took from me something that didn’t belong to him. I have felt like my walls went back up, leaving me too afraid to be vulnerable—and in protection mode all over again.

After a month of preterm labor, and now a few weeks engulfed in all my efforts being used up in a desperate fight to no longer be pregnant . . . it is no surprise to me that I sit here at six in the morning, feeling a need to get out of my head what has been on my mind.

Protecting our children.

I am about to give birth to a child that is coming into a different world than the other five have lived. The last time I was here, I didn’t know it, but my world was about to shatter. There have been many moments through the last nine months that I almost felt inadequate to give her a home that she deserved. A pure—un-traumatized—baby why would she want a mother who has been so broken? The dude in my head has had a great time brining me back to the fear that I couldn’t protect my other kids . . . why would this time be any different? He has been truly creative at bringing back inadequacy to a new kind of level.

So I as I have pondered these fears, and worked through some of the trauma I thought had long since passed, I have realized a few things . . .

In this world—though she hopefully won’t experience first hand what her brothers and sisters went through—she will still need to be protected from it.

We live in a world obsessed with two things. Sex and Murder. Glorified at every turn, our children are constantly bombarded with marketing full of images depicting the Hollywood version of these two sins, but what they don’t tell you is how murder really feels for the kids who live it every day.

What they don’t tell you is that both of these choices—affairs and murder—shatter hearts. What they don’t tell you is that these kids effected by losing someone close to them at the hand of another person . . . lose their childhood—their innocence—in a single moment. What Hollywood fails to portray is the years that follow. They want us to think that murder is intriguing, they want our children to think that it is just part of life. Little do they know is how it really feels when it happens to you.

So what does growing up in a world of murder feel like? It feels like panic attacks at school when a Hollywood version book about murder is read out loud to a group of 8th graders. It feels like anxiety for weeks after a 12 year old plays a shooting game with all of his friends. Haunting nightmares after accidently seeing a commercial during a football game—a commercial about a cereal killer. Little kids scared to go up to their room alone. Kids afraid to go to school after a lock in drill. Tears in the night after someone says a simple phrase when not wanting to do a task at school,
Just shoot me in the head.” Words that in any one else’s world seem so simple—to children of murder—brings about an image that is all too real.

So to those in Hollywood who make light of taking a life . . . I want you to know that murder isn’t just a cool topic that—as my daughter’s eighth grade teacher put it—“keeps their attention because kids like this stuff”. Kids only like this stuff, because we have let it become commonplace in their life. I know for a fact that we wouldn’t let them read books about 10 different ways a sex addict raped someone—so why is it ok to have them read a book about 10 different ways a serial killer murdered people?

Our kids are being told lies. They are playing games that take away their view of the preciousness of every life. They are watching movies that glorify and give power to sex and violence. They are surrounded by images that take away the importance of fidelity and protection of life. Then we wonder why young kids bring guns into schools; we wonder why they do it in a way that they have no empathy for anyone else . . . it is because we have taught them that it is ok . . . and not just ok—we have let them come to believe that it is cool.

Our kids deserve more. They need us to care about what we let the world put into their heads. We need to protect them from the numbing effect of stories and games that fog their view of reality and fantasy. They need us to filter out the world, and teach them right from wrong. They need to learn empathy.

I learned the importance of this by parenting what the world might call “broken children”. But guess what . . . the world is the broken one. God wants us to have empathy. And my unlucky children learned that the day their father was shot in the head. They care about what others are going through and how things feel for them. They care about every emotion I feel—sometimes to an obnoxious level. They cry when their friend’s parents get divorced, because they don’t want them to hurt. They ask for an extra ten bucks when their school is raising money for a student with cancer—not because they know him well—but because they ache for another in pain.

Emapthy is what we have to teach our kids, to care about every life that is around them. Empathy—heart for another person’s needs—is what changes everything. Empathy is what this pure child who hasn’t felt the effect of trauma is going to learn from her siblings who have lived a life full of it.

So little baby. You are coming to a family that some days has felt a little broken . . . but what I finally figured out: this was always the plan. You won’t see them as your broken brothers and sisters—you will see them as brothers and sisters who learned at a young age what it is like to care. They will protect you on a fierce level at every turn, because they will never want you to hurt. They will be your warriors, because they learned a long time ago that life is precious. They will give you their hearts, because they know what it feels like for hearts to be broken. You won’t see them as broken, because it is in their broken past that they learned how to love.

Empathy is love—caring about the life and needs of another person. In a world full of empathy there is no room for the world’s view of what makes us broken. God doesn’t make any mistakes . . . so little baby, I am ready to be your mom. I am worthy to be your mom. This was always the plan. My heart is ready to do it again, and I have faith that this time it will be different. It won’t be perfect—no life is—but what I can promise you is that it will be beautiful. A perfect kind of mess. The world isn’t what we are bringing you into . . . you are coming straight into our hearts—and we can’t wait.

God’s plan is beautiful . . . and I am so glad you choose us. This was always the plan.


Unknown said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story and your journey. I know it can be difficult to be so open. It has given me hope for a better future and strength to be the mother my children need.
After almost 20 years of marriage and 4 amazing children my husband told me about an affair he’d been having for years. I have struggled to not feel so broken. So worthless. Everything in my life changed in one single moment. Looking back at family photos and videos sometimes brings pain and anger. Our youngest was around 1 when he started his affair. I had no idea. Absolutely no idea. I completely and utterly trusted him. Things weren’t great but every marriage has its ups and downs. We were both in school and/or working. I was taking care of kids. Sometimes life’s not easy but I had no idea it had gotten so bad. I felt lost, angry, hurt, sad, frustrated, and stupid that I had not seen this. It took me months to finally speak up and talk about what had happened. I was ashamed and felt like it was my fault. Reading stories like yours has helped me to be strong, overcome my anger and learn how to forgive. Myself and him. I’m still working on it and I may be working on it forever. I don’t understand why these things happen to anyone, ever. I do know that my Heavenly Father knows me and my ex husband. That he loves us both. That he forgives everyone. That he is aware of us and knows our hurts, fears, and sorrows. That he understands us with a perfect knowledge of all we have been asked to go through. I have been blessed to be able to find strength in Him and to become closer to Him through sometimes what feels like unceasing prayer and unending blessings. I have found a strength in myself I never knew I had. For that I am grateful. Thank you for being so willing to share your journey!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this, this is so beautiful! You are exactly the mother that this little girl needs and she is so blessed to come into your sweet family. Much love, happiness and blessings to you all❤!

kelly said...

This post was beautifully written. You have such a beautiful way with words and are always so honest and open. I am a mother of 6 children. Baby number six, Halli, came 8 years after babies 4 and 5 twins. Our oldest was 16 and the youngests were 8. Our life was really busy and I was a little worried about how bringing a baby into it would work. I worried about how the age gap would work. I knew those 5 amazing older siblings would love her fiercely and protect her and they did 100% but I was not prepared for how she would forever bless those 5 older siblings. I am so excited for this for you and your family. Your baby girl will grow her siblings hearts 3 sizes, she will bring out the very best in all of them, she will be the healing balm, the glue, the inspiration and so much strength. Our Halli is now 17 and the blessings have been so amazing since the day she was born. When I thought we were fine, the Lord knew better. We say she is the best thing that ever happened to our family. Good Luck to you Ashley.

carolyne b said...
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Pockets said...

Thank you for posting this. I am not sure if you respond to comments but I hope so. I am struggling right now and would love your thoughts. My children have been through really rough things with their dad too. And I relate to so much of what you said. I think empathy is huge. And going through what they did taught them compassion like you wouldn't believe. They notice others and they reach out to others. They do nice things for friends because they had a bad day. They stop by to help someone out because they heard something. I love this about them.
But it seems to be a double edged sword. Because they can't seem to find caring themselves. I get that high school is a hard time and people are really concerned with what they have going on. But when your daughter comes home and says I tried to talk to my best friend but she just changed the subject and I don't understand because I listen and help her whenever she has a problem, I really don't know how to help this.
And it has been a constant theme we have seen with all my girls. In high school, jr high and elementary. They have been so brave and reached out to new people and new groups of friends hoping to find this kind of empathetic relationship. And inevitably it has failed.
It seems in this world today that it is almost unheard of to care for others. That people will be your friend if you put all the work in and reach out every time and constantly do things for them etc. But when you have a bad day, you look around and everyone is too busy to notice.
I don't know if we have just been so incredibly unlucky. Or perhaps there is something else we can't see. But I'm almost at the point of thinking I raised my kids wrong to consider others. Because if they were not taught to be there for others, they wouldn't get hurt when their friends didn't care for them.
This sounds really bad. But it had really been a hard spot. Things like asking a group hey, who is going to the game this weekend hearing no I'm not from everyone and then finding out Friday night, oh she's at the game but didn't think of you. Or hey let's make plans to do something after school today. Ok sure. And then after school my neighbor just asked me to go to the movies so bye.
And it has been across multiple groups and multiple ages.
Reading your post, I felt like yes, she understands. So is it people have to go through something down right awful to gain empathy and those who don't just don't get it?
I don't know and I'm worried I'm coming off really awfully. But this isn't a little pity party.
It's actually a big issue that I may not be explaining correctly. But I'd love your input if you have a minute.

Ashlee said...

It’s so interesting to hear these stories and try to comprehend how so many of us in them had no idea. So full of trust and love. Thank you for sharing this! Your faith is clearly caring you and that is beautiful!

Ashlee said...

Oh that makes me so happy to hear! I love watching them get done and try to make her smile. They will do just about anything!! Thank you for sharing this!!!

Ashlee said...

Wow! This hit me hard today because I have found that even in my own life. Trying to give and give to people and not always getting that same amount back! Some of those relationship have felt so empty that I look back and feel used and wondering why I tried to hard. Some of the time I tried so hard because I genuinely wanted to be liked and enough for someone else. I wanted them to fill a void in me—praise me, cheer me on—tell me that what I did for them was perfect. Then others I have genuinely done things, or been there for them...because I just loved them and wanted to see them succeed. The later is the one that has been true empathy...
because the other ones were me being selfish and wanting something back. When we truly serve to care for another we don’t do it with the expectation that we will get anything back. We do it for another person or for God. There will be one sided relationship...probably more than we can count. Some of those Heavenly Father might ask us to stay and continue to serve one sided. Others he might tell us to move on to find relationships with people who will want to fill our cup too. High school is a hard cold place for many of us, but a great place to practice this dance of figuring out who and where God needs us to be as we learn to love others and ourselves...and Him! Good luck! Parenting is hard. I hope you find the words to say to encourage each of them on their unique journey. Keep turning them to prayer. He has way better answers for them than we ever could.

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