Yesterday evening I stood apron-clad in my kitchen, mixing a chocolate cake and chatting with Josiah. At first the conversation centered mostly on politics and government, and in particular his attempt to explain something to me about communism and inflation, I cant remember…
But then abruptly he said “Momma, I’m glad you and Daddy help people with the Trauma Healing ministry. Even though you have to travel sometimes, I like what you are doing….there are so many people in the world who are hurting. Someday..”, he said quietly “you can teach me how to help people. I will learn to be a Trauma Healing facilitator and I will go with you to help children.” There was a long pause as I poured cake batter into the greased pan and slid it into the oven while nodding my head slowly. There was more coming and I did not want to interrupt him.
“Momma…”, he began again “There are too many people in the world who have had trauma, who have seen and experienced bad things…I have seen bad things. In the orphanage I saw bad things. And I know how those people are hurting.” He paused and blinked very very hard to keep back the tears, but they were coming on fast now. I could feel my heart crushing, breaking, melting in my chest. Josiah does not cry, usually. He always fights tears. But he was losing the battle this time. I held out my arms and he came to me, buried his dark head against my broken heart and sobbed.
What could I say? It was true. You cannot be abandoned in a lonely park at age two (I’ve been to that park and that place -and it is dolefully dark and lonely), spend the next five or six years in an overcrowded orphanage, where you are not allowed to go to school or even outside to play… a child cannot endure this without pain. And it is the kind of hidden, gnawing, eat-away-at-your-insides kind of pain. “I’m sorry, son.” I said simply. But my whole heart was in those words. What I would give to snatch him up the very minute his China mother let him go! How often have I prayed for her? I pray that somehow she knows he is safe and well and loved.
“Momma…” he lifted his head to me “What exactly do you teach the people in Trauma Healing to help with their pain?”
So I walked him to the kitchen table and took the little book we use with children and showed him the first two lessons. I explained how we talk about God being with us in our pain. And how we teach big people and little children that their hearts can have wounds which are a lot like physical wounds. He chimed in “This is true! I know what a heart wound is. My heart is hurting. It must be wounded. I have seen too much…” he shook his head sadly. “But how can it get better?”
So I explained to him that heart wounds need to be cleaned out, just like a physical wound. We do this by talking about our pain and the sadness we feel. We talk to God but we also talk to other people. I gently told him that it is very important not to keep the bad stuff inside and that sometimes we can just talk to someone we know and sometimes we need to go to a pastor or a special counselor.
Then I hung up my apron, took his hand, and we went for a walk. We walked and he talked. Then we sat on Aunt Stephanie’s trampoline and looked up at the evening sky and he talked some more. He agonized over the other orphans he once knew, especially the fate of the sick and disabled. He passionately raged against the machine of communism and the systemic abuse that allows children to be “thrown away like trash!”. “One day”, he said “I will go to other children, like the ones in South Sudan, and I will teach them Trauma Healing, and they will listen to me because they will know I care about them. They will know I understand trauma.” he said earnestly, trying to wrench purpose and meaning from his own experience. I listened and loved him more, praying that some way he would know how much. When he was tired and spent, we prayed together. We asked God to heal those deep and painful hurts. There is still a lot of work to do. But it was a good beginning.
At bedtime, he bounced into our room ready for a story. “Momma!” I looked up into his face “Thank you. I already feel better.”