seek wisdom

I needed to learn a new language {so I saw a therapist}

Hi, my name is Erin, I see a therapist. Sometimes, I feel like that's the way I should start conversations. Then maybe if people hear or see me acting in a very particular or specific manner, they'd understand.  I sometimes hear myself repeating what I've learned in therapy and I think "you're a nut". The thing is, sometimes being a little nutty actually works. 

It started almost a year ago. I knew something had to change because the way I was, or wasn't, connecting with one of my kids.  It was affecting our entire family. I would try so hard to be what it was he needed, but not matter what I did, we just kept butting heads. It wasn't like every once in a while we'd have an issue, it was like every couple of hours.  You know when you flip through channels and land on one about animals in the wild, and they show two males fighting for dominance. You can't change the station because you're curious who is going to win, that was us. 

 So we set an appointment and we went together for a few weeks until we decided it was best if only I attended the sessions. I've had to stop saying we have gotten our kid help because if I am the only one going, it's safe to say, we're just getting me help. I don't really care how we label it, I was desperate and so was he. 

 We started out small discussing the problems and really just letting me vent my feelings and fears. Then she started to give me “homework”. This is where the nutty part comes in because I was told to use very specific phrases and words in a monotone voice and show no emotion. I keep comparing myself to that Will Ferrell skit from SNL.  "I SUFFER FROM VOICE IMMODULATION".  Funny stuff unless it's you. I felt so dumb and embarrassed because when my kid was flipping out and I'm dodging the items that were getting thrown in my direction, the only thing I was supposed to say was " I see you throwing your toys, I hear you screaming". 

It was like I was learning an entirely new language , and it felt odd rolling off my tongue. It took patience, perseverance and commitment.

After that lesson was mastered, we moved on. Next, we started conspiring to integrate actions with feelings. It’s really hard to connect with a child when they can’t articulate what is making them upset. His defense mechanism was to react in a negative manner, but I began to realize those were just red flags pointing us to deeper issues. It became my mission to insert words like safe, scared, kind, sad, tired, lonely and angry into all kinds of everyday events. Slowly, it started to work. He began taking steps to claim an emotion attached to a certain behavior. It blew my mind.

It was a different way to think and I am still working on remembering to practice this new language. Its been several months and now I can look back and see that the foundation for getting things headed in a positive direction was to learn how to speak to his heart. Really, truly the key to it all is letting him know that I see him and I hear him.  There is a lot of stuff that I just don't relate to about my boys. For one, they're boys, sometimes I just cock my head in disbelief at what they find humorous. Then we pepper in all that testosterone, fierce competition, need to be right and respected in addition to race and adoption components. I hear myself sighing often.  Out of the many ways I can't or don't relate to them the need to be seen and heard is not one of them. I completely understand that need, can't we all?

 While I’m not screaming and throwing things at my loved ones, I have learned plenty of ugly behavior.  Like with my boy, these behaviors are simply signs of a deeper issue. Sometimes it’s easy to get tangled in the web of lies that we are alone. It’s when the marriage is stuck in unmet expectations, or the body is yet to be healed. Times when our dysfunctional childhood spills over into our adult lives, and we wake up with anxiety and depression. It occurs when we are overwhelmed with our workload or the responsibilities of raising children. Certainly we have all looked around and felt anger at the injustice of a situation that fell in our lap. It’s hard not to get emotional when you had no control over decisions that have now greatly affected your life.  It’s then that we begin to question, why me? And we can fool ourselves into thinking that we are not seen and we are not heard, but that's not true. 

My Pastor once said “We have a God with Scars.” 

Meaning that we don’t have some religious belief system where we are constantly trying to prove our worth by being a good enough person. We have a God who already proved our worth by the shedding of His blood.  So when the therapist kept reminding me how important it was to speak direct truth into my little boys heart, I couldn’t agree more. The truth is: He is El Roi, the One who Sees. He is an intentional God, who purposely sent His son to us, so a relationship could be built with us and now dwells in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Because He was forsaken, we can rest assured that we never will be.

The world tells us it’s okay to behave in certain ways, to allow our emotions to run wild, yet it leaves us feeling alone. Learning the language of the Word and applying it to the dark spots in our hearts, will produce transformation that can only come from the realization that we are seen, heard and loved far beyond what we can even comprehend. Even if we feel a little nutty in the process.


Timeout {I've got to ask my dad something}

My husband and I were standing in our bathroom having a conversation when our son burst into our room yelling for his dad. It is common in this stage of life for our conversations to be interrupted. Between three boys and a dog, someone always needs something.  In spite of this regular occurrence, his request intrigued me.


Our gangly, sports-loving boy was playing a game of one-on-one basketball with his neighbor buddy, and he was getting his butt kicked. His exaggerated expression and serious tone told me he was feeling pretty frustrated. Expecting him to complain, I was pleasantly surprised to hear him ask his dad for advice. I listened as he explained all the tricks that were already tried, but had failed.  My heart swelled that he thought his next best move was to call a timeout and ask for his dad's advice. 


The man I married is an incredible dad, and he truly shined in this moment. Rather than telling Greyson, our son, to try harder, he asked him what he knew to be true about the situation. Greyson stated that his friend was taller and could shoot better. However, Greyson was faster.  Next, my husband asked the advantages of being faster. The conversation continued a few minutes longer and ended with them running plays around our bed.  Greyson walked out more confident and ready to implement all he had just learned. 


I don't ever recall doing something like that when I was little. I'm pretty certain I just convinced my friends to play games I knew I could win.  The whole scene stuck with me for a few days. I kept thinking how proud I was of Greyson. His emotions could have taken his actions a number of different directions, but he chose to get help.  Ever play against a sore loser? A person that lets anger or jealousy get the best of them. I can distinctly remember a time when I was winning at monopoly and my opponent didn’t like it. Rather than strategize their next move, they just flipped the board up. Paper money and little gold tokens fluttered to the ground, game over. Or sometimes people just give up. They don’t see a quick win and decided it’s easier to quit. Honestly, in the game of life, I sometimes look more like the sore loser rather than one seeking out a fresh perspective. I was humbled by my kid and I wondered, what if I put into practice asking my Father for help when I couldn't figure out the next move? And what would He say to me?


I believe the conversation would greatly resemble the one that took place in my bedroom. My Heavenly Father would not placate me with a quick answer, but rather point me to what is true. And there is no better place to find the truth, but in His Word.  The Bible is like the worlds best playbook and reveals answers to my questions when I am struggling. Taking the time right in the middle of the "game" to simply ask for some help would not only change the way I played the game. It would change me.


But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
— James 1:5


I would be able to walk out confident and equipped for whatever comes next because He too, is an incredible dad.


 As Father's Day draws near you may be reflecting on your personal experiences with your own dad. Maybe he was really good at answering questions or perhaps not. It could be you didn't know your dad or what you did know of him, you disliked. In any case, the good news is that  Our Heavenly Father is the kind of dad that lavishly loves. He will always take the time to show you the right play. All you have to do is ask.