So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7
Last year, after watching our youngest daughter increasingly struggle to focus, control her body's impulses, move through her various spaces with awareness and control, keep order around her, process routine childhood injuries or insults with reasonable responses, and genuinely struggle socially, we sought the wisdom and guidance of an excellent therapist. We had already had her complete a psychological educational round of testing which found her to be in normal bounds across the board, so to treat what we were observing as if it were ADHD or behavioral would not be the correct prescription.
Her therapist described her as "an egg without a shell moving through a porcupine forest." Ouch and oh my! As an adopted sibling of our two biological siblings, she also compared them like trees. My two older children did not have a history of being argumentative at school, using anything but humor in response to typical friend razzing and teasing, have not been attention-seeking or needing to insert themselves in other people's business to feel a part of things or to assert their significance. This, our brilliant therapist noted, is because from birth they have been identified as belonging to us, they've had their eyes or talents connected to family members from which they come, they've had their toes and fingers and every new development celebrated and photographed since birth. Their roots are deep and strong and certain. A slight breeze or a dangerous thunderstorm isn't going to threaten their trees.
The very act of being abandoned, even at birth before language is present to name the experience, is traumatic. Her body created a narrative around that experience before she had words to express it and her body continued to live out of the lense of that narrative until she was given words to understand it. Deep down, she believed there must be something bad about her, wrong with her, unloveable about her for her birth mom to reject her. From this unspoken belief, she interpreted every slight conflict or challenge or obstacle or Inability to master something upon first encounter as an affirmation of her birth mother's assessment of her. Her tree had very few and very flimsy roots, making every breeze a threat to her well being.
But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-9
A new narrative replaced her old narrative. While we have always wanted to revere and honor her birth mom, children intuitively know that a loving parent should never leave their children. So, we had to name that what she did was wrong. The abandoned baby was not the one who was wrong, but she had been wronged. We then needed to nourish those roots, answering the deep questions of belonging, importance and love. It felt like a black of hole of need that no human could ever meet. It felt like an unfair reality too great to be put on this mama's shoulders. And it was. But God in His kindness, as the Wonderful Counselor and Great Physician, worked through that gifted therapist giving us tools to build up this little tree by strengthening her roots, helping her roots to grow deeper and thicker and sturdier, so that slight breezes or raging storms won't so easily break her branches or send her toppling. A shell-less egg she would no longer be.
As a result, her body carries a peace that it didn't know before and her limbs and impulses are at rest, controlled by her deliberations rather than her former state of anxious reactions. As one who is more certain of her belonging, being deeply loved and of great importance, her capacity for struggle, obstacles and conflict is greater, like a tree that can stand firm and tall in the wind.
This is God's adoption of us, calling those who once were not his children, his children. He draws us who were far away and even His enemies near to Himself and His heart, calling us friend. He writes a new narrative about who we are as He tells us Whose we are. He roots us and establishes us in Him. It is not the tree who can will itself to grow roots - the tree is dependent upon sun, rain, underground water sources, and nutrient-rich soil. God is the One who uproots and replants us so that we can flourish. God is the One who makes us flourish. Our roots are firmly connected to the one whose living water never goes dry.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19