Here’s the thing. I’m not a sit down and play kind of mom. Read books? Yes, every night. Teach my kids how to do chores and responsibilities. That’s my jam. Play? I’ve never been that mom. Ever. A few minutes is about all I can do. My 3 bio’s were so close together in age that they were built-in play mates, so it was never really even noticed that mommy didn’t play much with them. But the reality of parenting a child from trauma is that their greatest need is constant closeness, attention and affection. And for me, that is absolutely draining. Big kids, WHERE ARE YOU??? I NEED YOU TO PLAY WITH HER!!! Here’s the other thing. I also prefer being alone. Seriously. My people know, stay out of my kitchen if I’m in there. If I’m getting ready in my bathroom, please for the love do not get in my space. Being around people for any length of time sucks the life out of me. Loud and crowd sends my senses spiraling. All I know is, my wiring is weird. I own it and embrace it. But it’s not necessarily a fit for being a foster mom. This past two years of fostering has forced me to do things out of my normal. It’s forced me to do things out of what fits my personality. And it’s fostered a deeper understanding of myself.
It’s taught me that the purpose of knowing how we are wired is not so much to narrowly define the space in which we are willing to operate. Because if what we do and how we do it is only within the limits of how we feel comfortable and what comes natural to us, then we’ve not really given God much room to use us in ways where only He can be glorified. I’ve always thought that understanding my personality was simply to guide me into the kind of career and activities and relationships that fit me. The thinking that obviously, God made me with this wiring so only these certain things and areas are mine to live. What these last two years of doing what’s so far outside of myself has taught me is that when God shoves me outside of the safe lines of my personality, it is the understanding of myself that informs me of how I will struggle and how I will be strong. It is self-awareness that informs me of what my self-care must be. Let me give you an example. My enneagram 5 self screams at me saying, MAKE THIS STOP. You see, parenting trauma is exhausting. And my personality type has very low emotional tolerance. It’s like the difference of an ocean and a dry river bank. Don’t you dare touch the few drops of water available to me. The greatest fear of my wiring is being depleted- you asking too much of me. So everything in me says, this child is asking too much of me. However, instead of me saying no to being her middle mom, I acknowledge the limits of myself. I realize what I have to do to self-care and must keenly be self-aware. I admit when I have simply met the max of what I can give and ask for help. What she needs and who I am simply do not match. But God has no yet released me from middle mothering her. So instead of saying, “oh this can’t be my calling,” I continue to say yes by leaning into Christ to be sufficient for me. I trust him to be my source because even though my well of emotional capacity is shallow, his is bottomless.
We’ve misunderstood the purpose of all the personality things. Yes, I certainly believe it is wise, for example, to see that if we are introverted that an extroverted career may not be our best decision. But we cannot put such narrow limits on what God asks of us. We’ve actually used our wiring as boundary lines of how and where we are willing to serve God. But what about Moses? A man with a speech impediment called to speak before pharaoh. Gideon, the most unqualified match, called to be a mighty warrior. God is going to ask you and me to do things that are entirely against who we are because He wants us to experience more deeply who He is. And He wants to use us in ways that can only He can receive the glory. So rather than placing limits on my obedience, as I am obedient, I begin acknowledging my personal, unique limits within the yes. Instead of placing restrictions on my obedience, I realize how my unique wiring will respond within the yes, how I will have to refuel and how I will have to rely on others. Rather than limiting our availability to God based on our ability, we are informed about ourselves for the purpose of knowing how we will need Christ to strengthen and sustain us as we do this thing that we literally do not have the capacity to do. “I could never do that” is almost like a dare with God. “Oh really? Let me show you just what I can do in and through you.” Saying yes to the things outside of ourselves is how we experience his limitlessness in our limitedness. It is how we experience his sufficiency in our insufficiency. It is how we learn to live dependent upon the depths of who he is rather than the boundaries of who we are.
And so last night, we bonded over baking. Because it’s more tolerable to me than playing. It’s like the balance, or maybe compromise, of my capacity and her need to be close and connected. And when we are done, I have to go be BY MYSELF for a few minutes to decompress. But for 30 minutes we measure and stir and pour and laugh and lick the spoon. Because what she needs matters more than me staying within my lines and limits.