Trauma: an experience that produces psychological injury or pain.
A report from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) United shows that 70% of adults in the U.S. have experienced some type of traumatic event. Think about the survivors of natural disasters, serious accidents, abuse, sudden death, not to mention those in combat. The same article shows the annual cost to society for anxiety disorders, the aftermath when faced with trauma, is estimated to be significantly over $42.3 billion.
Even though the word trauma was never used in my life after my father was murdered, I now understand that indeed, I was traumatized. Symptoms, such as anger, would rear it’s ugly head when I would least expect it. There were also times that I felt completely numb; at others, bouts of tears seemed never-ending during periods of intense sadness.
It wasn’t until we adopted our two children from the Ukraine that my eyes were truly opened to the effects of trauma in one’s life. As only the Lord can do, He was multitasking–not only was He caring for our children, but He was healing the deep recesses of my heart in the process as well.
Our family entered into a very difficult season after the adoption, as we tried to understand how to meet the needs of the two who had captured our hearts. It seemed that everything we tried in order to help them was to no avail. Once again, I found myself on my knees asking…
What are we doing wrong…?
The Lord has a way of answering one’s cries when we least expect it, though.
The years following the adoption, I coordinated missions trips with HopeHouse International, who had also facilitated our adoption, visiting orphanages all across the Ukraine. We generally visited older teens; it was our mission to share the gospel before they were released at age 17, leaving with only the clothes on their back. I understood the reasoning behind our focus on older children, but there was always a tad bit of disappointment for me because I loved babies. I wanted desperately to visit a baby orphanage. Every year, I begged…
”Please Yuri, can we see some babies today…?”
“Rhonda, orphanage directors are afraid that your team will bring in germs,” replied Yuri.
However, six years after our adoption, Yuri arranged for us to take much needed diapers to a small orphanage in a remote area that had never been visited by missionaries. Gifts, like money, has a language all its own. There were two stipulations though—we could not go inside and we could not hold the children.
As our team departed the bus on a beautiful sunny morning, nurses brought babies out of the building in strollers and parked them under the trees. A light breeze was blowing as I walked up to a baby carriage parked all alone; I noticed it looked like one I had seen in pictures from the 1950’s. My heart was not prepared for the blue eyes peering up into mine as I drew near. I could not tell if the child was a boy or girl; there wasn’t a soft pink or blue blanket. No doll or toy to bring comfort, only a dingy cloth diaper loosely pinned. It appeared the infant wanted to cry, yet only a whimper escaped. The lump in my throat made it hard, but as best as I could, I began to sing, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine…”
Yuri approached me with the director of the orphanage by his side.
”Rhonda, she would like to take you inside, but only you.” Yuri said.
The woman took me by the arm and motioned me to follow her; my Ukrainian language was very limited, so sign language was necessary. We entered a room where ten two-year-olds sat motionless at a round table. Clothed only in underwear, they sat with their heads down and their hands folded in their laps.
How do they get these babies to do this…?
This isn’t right…
The director walked around the table and laid a cracker in front of each child. Well trained, they each took the cracker, bit it and then laid it back down. One child started to cry. I looked at the director and patted my chest, as if to ask, “Can I pick up the child?” She looked at me and yelled, “Nyet (No)!”, and then, within a blink of the eye, she walked to the child, threw her hand back and slapped the child across the face. With a violent hiccup, the baby stopped crying and picked up the cracker.
I knew without question, the Lord had just answered the many why’s of my heart. He wanted me to see first hand an example of the trauma that my babies had faced. As only the Lord can do, by looking into the face of their trauma, I came to a better understanding of my own.
Trauma has a way of keeping our eyes focused on our pain; that’s how the enemy of this world works. He will cloud your vision so that you are limited to looking at yourself, instead of the eyes of God. It’s only when we see through our pain, to our Father in Heaven, that true healing takes place. Then, as is His wont, He will use what we have learned from our own pain to help others with theirs…
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Has pain rendered you immobile? Whisper this name…