My cousin’s wife recently sent me this picture. I keep looking at it. I am not sure why. It is me at 3ish, not sure of my exact age, with my cousin’s dog. I look pretty serious. I wonder if someone told the dog to stay and then I obeyed. Why so serious? My extended family liked to be goofy and we have always laughed a lot together.
I keep wondering what narrative is running through this little girl’s mind. I wonder what she is thinking, and how she is recording things. I have very few early memories. I did remember Wiggles (the dog) when I saw the picture. Next to my own dog, it was one of my favorites. I have been thinking a lot about narratives, ones that are underlying, what is overlaid, what are unspoken, and what are outspoken. I wonder what it was in this season of my life.
Lately, memories from third grade have been coming to me. The main one is finding a parent crying, and kneeling by the bed saying we needed to pray for the other parent. I remember sadness, and trying to comfort my parent. The next time that parent took off they took my brother and me. I remember being mad and calling home often, but mostly to check on my new dog. I was concerned and missed the dog. I do not remember if we even slept overnight at that house, or if we were home by nightfall, but it is the only time I remember that parent taking us.
So weird how things happen, and as a kid in some ways they become just the way life is, and in other ways the inner narrative comes out somehow. What I remember about that year was getting in fights with two different boys at school often. I also remember that I had the best teacher. She would take me to quiet spaces to talk. I wonder what I told her. I wonder how I processed everything, or how she processed it. I have no memory of any of our chats, but I loved that teacher so much. Actually for the next few years I had great teachers at the school who I connected with and adored. I wonder what they knew, or what they thought.
“Kids are great recorders but terrible interpreters.” Sheila Walsh shared this quote from her counselor in Middle of the Mess. I apparently interpreted but did not record much. I keep wondering what underlying, unspoken narrative was laid down in those years. I am so thankful that besides the awesome third grade teacher, my neighbor invited us to her church where over the next bunch of years and even now, people have loved me and encouraged me. I know they prayed a lot of prayers over me and my family. I think of my pastor and Sunday School teachers who spoke a narrative of love and hope over my life.
They let me know there was a God who was personal and cared about the little girl in an unstable home. There was a God who could heal and strengthen and could even use all the false narrative and unhealthy coping mechanisms for good. He could bring beauty from ashes. I am learning to listen more closely to the truest narrative, but I am also realizing that I may need to go back a bit and allow God to re-write the narratives and interpretations that were written in this little girl’s heart.