Today it has been one month since we met Elliott.
In some ways it feels like it has flown by.
In some other ways, it feels like it has been forever that we have known and loved her.
In some ways it has been one of the most beautiful, blessed months of my life.
In some other ways, it has been among the hardest seasons I have walked through.
Last week, Monday and Tuesday were particularly hard.
For some reason, she seems to struggle a lot at the beginning of the week when everyone else goes back to work and school. Maybe she is feeling abandoned by the rest of the family. Or maybe the weekend throws off her routine and then Monday she is reeling from all the new stuff she experiences through the weekends. We really have no clue.
We do know that for two weeks, on Monday and Tuesday she has had hard days. With everyone else returning to work and school, it’s just me here to struggle through with her.
On Tuesday afternoon last week I was rocking her, trying her to get her to go down for a nap. She just clung to me. It had been a long two days of mostly this. Mostly when we were alone. I was exhausted, frustrated, brokenhearted, and felt so clueless and helpless about what she needed or what was behind this for her.
I struggled through that day. Would I be able to endure this? Is this what the rest of my life would look like? Would I constantly feel like she needed more than I had to give?
Around 5:00 on Tuesday, after I had held her for many hours straight and cried a lot of tears, she pointed to the floor and I put her down. She began to walk around her safe little area rug. For all the time we had known her, she had avoided any hard surface. Although we don’t know why, we could tell there was a real fear of stepping off the carpet.
So she pointed to the floor and I set her down gladly, in her safe little space.
And our little firecracker stepped right off the rug and started walking around the living room on the wood floors.
She paced around the living and dining room. Peering into the office.
Stopping at the Christmas tree.
She came back by me and checked in once or twice.
She stopped off on her rug.
She ventured into the kitchen (the tile!)
She began to move farther and farther away from her little safe zone.
By Tuesday evening, she was roaming the house. We delightfully followed her as she walked down the hallway to Campbell and Bennie’s rooms, then back to the living room. Then into the kitchen and back to the living room. After three weeks of watching her avoid stepping foot off of the area rug or the carpet in our bedroom, we were so excited to see her roam about freely. What a beautiful moment of bravery for her. Russ called her a little pioneer.
As I watched her, I thought about the fire I felt like I had walked through with her over the previous two days. She had clung and needed me in ways that felt beyond what I had to give. I literally felt like I had poured myself out. And it felt like, from moment to moment, it wasn’t really doing any good.
And then to see her take off, to see her overcome such a big roadblock for her – all of the sudden, all the frustration and weariness was gone.
It made me wonder, did she spend the past two days feeling just safe enough, just secure enough, to do this big scary thing?
That night, God reminded me that I don’t know. I don’t know what she needs. I don’t know what the next big hurdle is. I don’t know what the next fear to overcome is. He’s asked me to be her safe place. And while that doesn’t necessarily feel easy or comfortable for me, I don’t know if holding her for two days straight gives her the security and comfort she needs to make another big, brave step.
This is what life looks like for us right now.
It feels like daily we take big steps forward, then some steps backwards. She ventured outside onto the back patio this weekend. Victory! Then she cried for two hours yesterday morning because she wanted me to hold her, facing me, sitting on the couch.
There are moments where all I can see are the struggles we still have to overcome. The neediness and hours of holding. All the endless things I have not gotten done because I am juggling her needs with Campbell and Bennett’s. And still not meeting anyone’s needs well.
There are moments I wonder if change will happen. In the desperately hard moments, like yesterday, I wonder if we are doing anything right, if we have what it takes to walk with her in the road towards healing and peace and overcoming the hard start to her life. I wonder if I will ever see my friends again, return text messages, cook a meal, go to the bathroom without holding a toddler, or have a life outside of these walls. I wonder if I could actually go a little insane, living this reality over and over again.
But then there are moments, like the day she ventured off the carpet, that God gives me a bigger perspective. He allows me to see the sacredness of meeting her needs. That this may not be glamorous (it’s not), but by my consistent presence in her life, I get to be a piece of restoring something that Elliott has lost. I get to pour out, so that she can rebuild something that has been stolen from her.
It’s in those moments, with that perspective, that I keep going right now. I don’t always know what moment to moment amounts to, but I know Who does. I look forward to our girl experiencing the joy and freedom of knowing she is loved and secure. Getting there is the most humbling thing I’ve ever had the honor be part of. And while I can truthfully say these are hard and exhausting days; she is so worth it.
Before we left for China, two people pointed me towards different songs on Amanda Cook’s new album. While we were traveling, I feel in love with her song “Mercy”.
The bridge has become a sort of mantra for me through these days. I will wake up every day, love Him, and keep believing He is making beautiful things. Out of me and my selfishness (who needs to go to the bathroom alone?), out of Elliott’s life, out of our family.
So I will awake
And spend my days
Loving the One who has raised me up
From death to life
From wrong to right
You’re making all things beautiful