Wednesday, January 04, 2012

When Our Crap Affects Our Kids


photo credit:  Troy Livesay

There seems to be a really fuzzy line that separates the things we should tell our kids about grown-up life and the things that we shouldn't.  It always seems to me that other parents have a better understanding of where that line is.  We always wonder if we somehow missed the class where you learn what facts to divulge and which ones to withhold.  When did our babies turn into real people with real issues to process right alongside us?  How did they evolve into human beings who are no longer blindly along for the ride, but instead thinking creatures who we must consider as we walk and talk through this crazy thing called life?

Tell children too much and you have kids carrying weights their little souls were never meant to carry and a fifth grader with an ulcer and bleeding cuticles.  Tell too little and you run the risk of your kids feeling resentful, bitter, left out, believing their thoughts and their voice do not matter.  We've been around youth groups and watched enough ABC Family to know these things to be true.  We just don't feel smart enough to always know exactly what to do with these strange, gray pieces of life.

Days before Christmas, as Aaron and I were realizing our world was about to change drastically, we were really wishing there was a reference guide for times like these.  What would the Cosby's do?  Try as I may I could not think of any episodes that applied to our current situation.  All of a sudden running home from school every single day to watch the Cosby Show felt like a fat waste of time.

Aaron and I sat on the floor next to our bed.  Shoulder to shoulder.  Teary eyes.  Door closed.

What do we tell our kids?  When do we tell them?  We want to be strong for them, but can we be honest and admit that even thinking about how they will process that we're most-likely leaving Haiti feels like too much to walk them through since all we can manage to do as grown people is hold each other and cry.  It's days before Christmas.  Can't we just tell them we unexpectedly get to go home and see family for the holidays and then break the news to them after the holidays?

"I don't see our tears ending any time soon.  We need to go home to pray, think, and talk to people way smarter than we are.  We have bags to pack.  We need to know what the boys want to take home...what belongings they would be crushed to leave behind.  We need to ask them what pieces of their life here will help them heal once we're back in Texas.  There is no way around this.  We have to tell them and trust that Jesus will cover the parts we will most certainly jack up as we begin to move forward."

We gathered everyone in the living room.  They all sat close.  Skin to skin.

Isn't it strange how children's minds work?  When we were newly married Aaron and I sat one evening and tried to remember our very first memories of our childhoods.  I loved hearing the stories Aaron told.  We allowed each other to walk through some of our earliest memories as children.  It was an intimate invitation to revisit pieces of our pasts that formed us long before we were formed into husband and wife.  We were surprised that some of our earliest memories revolved around seeing our parents cry.  A million scenes of our pasts can no longer be recalled but the ones that involved our parents and their tears seemed to embed themselves, remaining in our minds forever.

We don't put a lot of stock in singular moments defining us in deep, down lasting ways.  We don't even put a lot of stock in our supreme ability as parents to completely shape our children.  We know how sinful we are, and so looking to God's lavish love for our kids and His sovereignty over their lives is a comfort to us when we think of how often we blow it.  We know that ultimately, no matter how hard we try as parents we excel at messing things up, and yet God is gracious and lovingly seems to spare our children from a lot of our stupidity.

Even though we have great faith in those truths, there seemed to be a tangible whisper in our minds that this moment in our living room was an important one, and there would be many important moments waiting for us on the horizon as we deal with this unexpected news and try to move forward.

While we're thankful their entire futures do not depend on one moment in our living room, God did give us enough grace and clarity in that one tiny frame of this story to know that this was an opportunity to teach them about their value to us, to God, and that no matter how unexpected these events were to our family, that we can trust a good God to only give good to His children.  When it feels like everything is crumbling, and the Unknowns seem to be doing an obnoxious end-zone dance while the Knowns stand there confused and dazed...somewhere in the middle of the madness, God is up to something good.

Aaron began.

"In about 48 hours we're going to get on an airplane and go to Texas.  There is a chance we won't be coming back to Haiti."

The boys fell over into our laps.  We all held each other and cried.

When it was over, peace seemed to tangibly sit with us. Like a person.  In the room.  Among other things spoken, in a moment of absolute weakness and maybe even insanity we vowed on our lives to get their giant mastiff to Texas.  Everyone was crying.  The boys could have asked for a real rocket ship, and I'm sure we would have promised to get one for each of them if it would make them happy.  Before we sat down with the boys, we had great hopes of channeling our inner Cliff and Claire Huxtable so we could calmly explain everything and answer all their questions with Cosby-sized wisdom.  What we got instead was a living room floor filled with crying freaks as we held our kids and squeaked out truths about God's faithfulness.

Aaron will be returning to Haiti soon to sell our belongings and will hopefully return with quite the traveling companion.  In the meantime we've been so thankful for your kind comments, emails, and messages as we take in so many unexpected new things back here in the US.  You guys have always been a constant source of grace to us, so I'm not sure why we would have ever expected anything less.

26 comments:

Stephanie said...

I can't imagine the upheaval you must feel...physically, emotionally, spiritually...but it is incredible to hear of the peace that you feel, and know that He is real and tangible all the time. Praying for you guys.

Anonymous said...

Haiti needed you and now, Somewhere, USA, needs you. Blessings to Aaron as he ties up loose ends in Haiti.

I see this move as protection for your family.

Karen in Texas

Sandee said...

on the binding God does to our tattered hearts in the arms of our family....

Praying for you and your family...as God walks you through this now.

Amanda said...

While this truth can't soothe your immediate wounds, know that each time you get up and leave someone or someplace behind for Christ your reward in heaven multiplies. Your suffering and saddness will be rewarded one day. I will pray for the door thats opening to be made clear to you and that it may bring you peace...And I hope your big puppy makes it home too :)

Thee Fire Wife said...

Praying for you during this crazy rollercoaster time!

John said...

Um. Wow. Love you guys a lot. You'll be missed.

Our Beautiful Life said...
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Chrissy said...

AS I kid, I sat through this very same situation, not once, but twice. When you broke the news a few days ago all I could think about were your kids.

You put so much time and effort into being who you are and where you are and building a life and just like that it's gone. Even if and when you understand the adult reasons, they don't matter. It doesn't change anything about it.

I'm not saying that I disagree with your decision, that I have that place to do so anyway, or that you even care what my opinion is. But I am glad that you wrote this post, that you know your kids, and that you are trying to think ahead for them because things will get hard for them. I will pray for their adjustments and for you to have the wisdom to handle this new life.

Beth in Atlanta said...

"When it feels like everything is crumbling, and the Unknowns seem to be doing an obnoxious end-zone dance while the Knowns stand there confused and dazed...somewhere in the middle of the madness, God is up to something good."

^ This. This.

My 'Knowns' have been standing around for several months now.

God's will is perfect and good and complete and always, always on time.

Diane said...

God will go before you and protect you. He IS faithful and has a perfect plan for you.....your tears have shown your kids that you care and that you treasure and safeguard their hearts. Do not be anxious. "Be still and know that I am God" Psalm 46:10

Praying for you-consider yourself hugged!

Our Beautiful Life said...

As always, thank you for sharing your heart. You and your family continue to be in my prayers. Our Father knows what is best. Always.

Anonymous said...

You followed your heart and it wil all work to God's purpose. Just please don't leave your wonderful dog to the elements and life of Haiti......he deserves to be with you too. God bless.

Madster said...

I've read your blog for about a year now and even though we never met, I pray that God will open a new door for you in TX. Your faith in following what God has in store for you has blessed me so much.

Love from Singapore- Yen

Turtle Mom said...

When one door closes, another door opens. Thoughts and prayers are with your family.

Suzie said...

I don't know why this has moved me so. I don't know you but have followed your blog for a year or so. I have a heart for the people of Haiti as I know you do. I woke up in the middle of the night last night thinking of you and your situation and prayed for you. May He give you peace and wisdom as you move forward and may your wounds be healed.

thistlewoodmanor said...

Wow, I don't read your blog for a few weeks and look what happens! I'm so glad you are all safe and moved. Sounds like you handled things great with your kids. Right now I'm sure you don't know what to think, but down the road you'll look back and it will make more sense. Keep updating your blog and I'll keep praying; you guys feel like family to me. Hugs.

Shelly Rude said...

My heart is hurting for you as I feel you are very torn & being pulled in two different directions.I pray that God will give you an overwhelming gift of peace through this.I believe that God has used you & your family so deeply in Haiti & that wherever you are God will continue to be glorified. Lean not on our own understanding. Love to all!

rooney said...
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brooke r. said...

I'm sorry to hear that you've had to make such a difficult decision. It's gotta just suck. Thanks for sharing your journey though. Y'all sharing your journey really does impact my faith journey. I mean, it helps my faith journey. Where to next, for me (after I finish my PhD)? Oh yeah, all those missionary folks - those bloggers who don't no me from Adam (or Eve!) - they put their trust in God, maybe I should too. Ya think? Yeah, I think.

Blessings and prayers for you strangers as you find a new way, a new path, a new new.

rooney said...

along with many other readers, it seems, i've been following your blog for about a year. this post moved me, but all of your posts move me.
there is one thing i learned in 2005 when a very abusive marriage of 18 months ended and the guilt of having put my 2 sons through that nightmare ensued, that i'd like to share.
My oldest son told our counselor when asked what he thought of mom's marriage to Nick, "it's ok it happened because it's when i really got to know Jesus".
i wept and still get misty all these years later. Kyle was 17 at the time.
the thing i learned and what i hear you saying as well, is that God is at work in the lives of our children inspite of and sometimes because of, the choices we make. Bottom line, He is sovereign and His perfect will is always accomplished. in our lives and the lives of our children.

Stacey said...

What has been instilled in your kids...for them to fall into your laps and weep for something so much bigger than them...to mourn for a place that most kids would not even consider calling "home"...

Greater is He who is in them, than He who is in the world.

That's evident.

I'll be praying that everything sells and quickly and for a safe trip for Aaron.

I love that you have peace...

Not a feeling but Him, the Prince...the governor, who has undoubtably carried this on His shoulders. May the weight you feel continue to be light.

mandi said...

hey friendie-

praying for your heart
and those sweet boys
and that man of yours

hope to give you a hug real soon...

Ruth said...

I don't know what to say. I'm really sad you guys are gone and wish we could have said goodbye. Praying for you as you figure out the next step.

Anonymous said...

I'm another "you don't know me" but I feel like I know you, some. Thank you for always being open, honest and real. As a mom adopting from Haiti I have loved following your blog- you always give me insights into a country that I have visited but will probably never understand. I will miss that. BUT, more than that, you have encouraged me as a mom many, many times. It's always good to know that I am not the only one who has boys that will do just about anything with the Jesus in the nativity set! LOL! Thank you for being you, and for giving us a glimpse into your lives, even when it hurts. Praying that God will continue to walk before you each and every step of the way, guiding and directing, and that some day you might be able to look back and truly see how His hand was in control of every confusing detail.
Rachelle in Maine

Karla Marsh (and family) said...

Your family is such an incredible witness . . . especially in the messiness. Thanks for sharing your messiness. You have such an incredible way of writing that always makes me laugh or makes me cry or makes me laugh while I cry! Praying wisdom and blessings and patience and peace and an overabundance of God's mercy - new for us each day. Your children are lucky to have you as parents - and offering your true self and emotion is a better example to them than any canned laughter sitcom script ever could!!

Heather Nozea said...

Praying for you guys!