Love Doesn't Take

In 2014, my husband Josh and I followed the tug on our hearts and left Nashville, Tennessee, to circle back to our roots in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. For a couple of years after that we  had the bittersweet pleasure of working with addicted teens in our community as chaplains in the local juvenile detention center.

Is this why we were lead back home? I wondered.

In September 2017 my cousins, then 12 and 14, moved in with us and we suddenly had “insta-teens”.  

Maybe this was the reason we felt the tug to move back home.

Love doesn’t take, or demand its own way. I’m growing through these growing pains ... Oh, I’m moving on.
— Nicole Unser, "Good Enough"

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Josh and I suddenly found ourselves clean-slated “insta-parents” having to learn on the fly as every parent does. In our case however, we did not have the luxury of easing into parenthood as many do. On the other end of the spectrum, our girls came to us with a childhood full of trauma and unanswered questions. Much like the kids we’d been working with in our community they struggled with questions of worth and belonging. The uncertainties in their hearts inevitably spilled out into daily behavior that required a whole-hearted, steadfast kind of love. In the summer of 2018, it became clear that our girls needed our focused  attention and we chose to pull back from our role as juvi chaplains and focus our attention at home.

Before all of these kids came into my life I thought I knew what love was. I thought I knew who God was. I thought I knew who I was. But after five very difficult years of unraveling I’ve come to realize that I have more questions than answers. I used to be afraid of questions because they made me feel uncertain. Now I know that control is only an illusion. I consistently find that as soon as I think I’m intellectually certain about something, life seems to offer up yet another invitation to get curious, ask questions and choose vulnerability over manufactured illusions of control.

Through it all, I’ve come to learn that while pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. As I lift my eyes from all the pain and uncertainty around me, I begin to see collateral beauty everywhere. Seeing life through a poet’s eyes means filtering the ups and downs through melody and song. So many amazing songs have poured out through these years and lessons learned and I’m excited to start sharing those with you again. The first one is called “Good Enough” and it talks about the journey we all must take as we search for significance and meaning and invites us to ask questions about where we are finding our core identity.

When I was little I thought I needed to protect myself from pain. Shame told me I wasn't "good enough" and I was "too much" all at the same time. This project is a chance to look at my little self and say, "That was really hard - but you're safe now."

The video that we shot last week won't be out for a month or so but I hope it will be an invitation for you to do the same kind of work with your "little self".

Until then you can hear a teaser of the song by clicking the video at the top or clicking through directly to youtube here:

Blessings on your journey toward wholeness, friends.

Love, Nicole.