I Have Not Yet Arrived

Kristi Baran Profile
Article by Kristi Baran
Assistant Houseparent

In 2017, I had the privilege of using your support to travel to Texas to learn more about Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI), a model of trauma-informed care. After two years of putting those principles into practice and refining my knowledge through experience, I am pleased to announce that…I have not yet arrived.

After working through the training program during the fall, I thought that the on-site conference would seal the deal and permanently imprint the vast amount of knowledge of my trainers into my own brain. However, as it so often happens, I had a foundation but needed my own experiences to clarify and solidify those principles. I didn’t need more head knowledge; I needed to learn how to practice these skills with the real problems of real people in real time with real emotions. As it turns out, it was not as easy as I had anticipated.

"Connect, empower, correct" is the bedrock of TBRI. Practically speaking, it is only when we have a strong connection and meet the needs of our kids can we offer any lasting correction. Therefore, even in the middle of the most intense crisis, I learned how to shift my thinking from stopping bad behavior to connecting with a broken child and meeting their needs.

It’s humbling to see the process of growth and to recognize that I’m not where I was; that being said, I’m certainly not where I want to be.

A few of my "finest" moments in recent years include:

  • Yelling back at Harmonie as we walked the track because my emotions were out of control.
  • Using sarcasm in a disagreement to put Izabelle* in her place (well, the place I thought she should experience).
  • Ignoring Jaxxon’s* pestering comments. Even though I knew his actions were a cry for connection, I reacted out of my annoyance rather than responding out of his need.

I list these, not to excuse sin under the mask of authenticity, but to illustrate that when I allow my emotions to cloud my judgment I lose the power of connection. While I need to be aware of what is going on inside me, there is a difference between awareness and abandoning reason. The beauty of TBRI is that it allows us to live in the land of "both-and" rather than "either-or."

I have grown and have areas of weakness.

I can acknowledge my triggers and respond therapeutically to my residents.

I can attend to my inner experience and connect with my kids.

The truth of the Gospel is that we can be sick and loved at the same.

God was able to maintain holiness in the midst of connection; in the end, "both-and" is what brought us healing. By modeling this in small ways to my residents, I have experienced God’s own heart for me. I have not arrived as a houseparent, a Christian, or any other role I fulfill but more importantly, that arriving is connecting throughout the process.

Kristi is currently a Counselor at Gateway Woods. She has also served as an Assistant Houseparent.