Advocate: one that pleads the cause of another; one that defends or maintains a cause or proposal; one that supports or promotes the interest of another
Being an advocate is not the first thing that comes to mind when describing who I am. I usually don’t tend to say what I am thinking. I often feel as if my point of view is probably not correct or I figure others know more than I do. I will also try and justify my thoughts by thinking, why should put myself in a situation where I might be ridiculed if I am wrong.
Honestly, my self-esteem is adequate; meaning I don’t have a super low or super high self-esteem. I don’t always keep my thoughts and opinions to myself but when it comes to “important” matters I tend to be more cautious and take the back seat. When it is time for me to be the voice of Jake, I struggle. I struggle to get the words out of my mouth that need to be said, I struggle to get my point across and I often find myself getting side-tracked and at times my words get jumbled and I end up looking like a babbling idiot. Words come out better if I can write them down. I can process my thoughts more accurately and express myself in ways my spoken words cannot. So you can see why this whole advocacy thing has been extremely difficult for me.
When I am faced with the choice of speaking up or backing down I remember something a former boss said to me one day. I was on the phone for him and was getting the run around. After I got off the phone my boss called me into his office and said in his thick Iranian accent, “Laurie, you have a back bone…use it!” He always encouraged me and taught me how to speak up for myself. He showed me that there are ways of getting what I want or need without coming across as a bitch or a wimpy woman. I honestly can still hear his voice in my head anytime I need to do something that is uncomfortable. And it truly does help me when my heart is pounding and I am praying to God to give me the kindest words and tone possible to get my point across. I smile thinking about my boss and that situation; who knew it would help me ten years later!
This whole advocacy thing is hard. Seriously, the hardest thing I have ever done and I struggle with it daily.
Being honest and forthcoming here…these are some of the thoughts that roll around in my head during meetings for Jake. I am not proud of my distracted thoughts and it is something that I constantly work on but seriously, this is where my brain is at times:
did I say that nicely? was my tone too harsh? did they understand what I just said? oh my gosh, I was babbling! what was I saying? okay, now I look like I have no clue what I am talking about…why are they starting at me, is there food in my teeth? wow, I love her necklace. okay, get back on track, Laur. geez my brain needs a nap. do they like me? do they think I am “that” parent and will avoid me for the rest of the year?!?! was that my stomach? what will I eat for lunch? maybe I should have brought snacks for everyone. did i cover all of my notes, I think so but what if I forgot something…oh boy the meeting is ending what if….what if….what if….
Advocating for Jake can be tricky at times. I know what I want and better yet, I know what Jake needs. But trying to get these wants and needs to come out of my mouth can be oh so difficult. Oh and if the person I am speaking too is “hard-core” and not wanting to back down I find myself second guessing the points I want to get across. Then the thought that then goes through my head is they must know what they are talking about — what do I know?
Seriously folks, it is insane all of the thoughts, the insecurities and emotions that I feel. I then question am I the right person to do this? Am I helping or hindering Jake?!?!
At the end of the day, I know I am the right person to do this. I know I am helping him. At the end of the day, I know that my voice is Jake’s and for the time being, I am all he has when it comes to speaking up for him and in getting him the best education, the best therapy and giving him the best life possible. Fortunately for me, I can usually get my point across, I can say what needs to be said. I usually get what Jake needs.
I know I am not alone in any of this. I have my friends, family and others who are walking a similar journey to mine. But more than anything I know I have God and am thankful for that!
I will persevere and it will all work out, I am sure of it. But when I am in the middle of it all it seems never ending!
As I took a break from writing I checked my email and a devotion from Proverbs 31 Ministries was waiting for me. I read it and couldn’t believe how much it applied to me and what I am writing about. It is titled Unshakable Confidence. Click on the link for a quick read. Was this a coincidence? I don’t think so…so as I wrap up this post I will leave it with this verse:
Hebrews 10:35-36, “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” (NIV)
Yep…perseverance + confidence = reward!!
The reward will come and I will be SO glad when it does 🙂