I am sorry I’ve been so silent over the past few weeks (er… months!). My position at Family support Network (FSN) has been simultaneously soul sucking and soul nurturing. I am a visit supervisor which means when children have been removed from home by Child Protective Services, I (and my co-workers) are the ones who supervise visits between the children and their parents. The families I am working with have had their children removed for a variety of reasons: drug abuse, arrests, general neglect, etc. When I supervise visits, I sit in the room with the family as they play together and visit. I write a summary of their interactions and I coach the parents on how to be better parents. This coaching doesn’t happen immediately, the family and I first build a relationship and then we move on to the hard work of improving parenting skills.
This post will seem familiar to a few folks. It is the body of an email I sent to one of my supporting churches. It has been lightly edited. I am hoping that I can update at least once a month over the next year or so. No promises though! — E
Back in January, I stood in front of my supporting congregations and spoke with conviction and a righteous indignation about child abuse. Those feelings coexist with deep feelings of compassion, forgiveness, and love for the child abuser. (I might be living the punchline of a cosmic joke.) I have a hard time describing what this is like because it seems insane. (Or a God thing). It is hard to explain to people how I am able to work with a person who is accused of burning and choking his child; or the person who was too high to take care of her children.
When I arrived in Billings, my energy was consumed with learning my new job and settling into my life here. I’ve made friends, found a church community, and feel like I have a grasp on my job. I am no longer just treading water and trying to keep my head above water. Now, my energy is consumed with trying to make sense of it all. The stories I encounter during my work are heavy and troubling. Trying to understand them without being overwhelmed by them is an exhausting endeavor in and of itself.
There have been many days where the only thing that keeps me going is the love I witness in the families I work with. It is often imperfect or warped but it is love nonetheless. Love, as Jesus taught us, is something we can work with.