I don’t know how long this song has been out, but on the day I sat down to write this blog, I heard #Voices, by Switchfoot for the first time. It appeared on my Facebook page as a post by Lindsey Stirling who release a colab. video with the band today, and well just take a moment to watch it.
As the video played on my phone this afternoon, I couldn’t help but imagine my children’s faces in place of theirs in that video with all the words they’ve heard over the years of their young lives. Words that have beaten them down, destroyed their confidence, and made it all but impossible for them to have an optimistic thought.
Stomping on Their Fire
I’ve never met a child who doesn’t CRAVE attention. Within about two visits with my in-laws, just the mention of their name makes them so excited they can’t see straight. Why? Because my in-laws love them unconditionally. They give, they play, they encourage and teach them every chance they get. My mother-in-law is their number one fan, almost from the moment we tell her the next child is on their way. She makes an effort to be a positive influence in their lives, to spend time with them one-on-one, and to make sure they all know she loves them.
And many of these kids have never see that! They are used to family who are too busy, too self-absorbed, too lost in their own problems to give a damn about anyone but themselves, so when the child looks for love, compassion, even food or a drink they hear nothing but negativity.
And what a child hears, a child believes!
So when a parent spends the larger portion of their time with a child putting them down and degrading them, that child begins to believe that’s all they are worth. When a child only lives through pain, disappointment, loss, and removal after removal, they soon begin to expect those things.
It doesn’t take long for any child to look for what it will take to bring the positives out of even the worst abusive situation. Children will start doing things to gain a sense of value, safety, belonging, happiness while avoiding anything that causing their parent to explode. The If…then mentality takes over their brains and their hearts and once it dose they sometimes never come back from those depths of darkness.
In the video by Skillet and Lindsey Stirling above, there’s a turning point at 2:21 where the projector is spun around and the negative words being shown switch to “I can do this”, “I am worth it”, “I am beautiful”, etc.
And for me this is one of my biggest goals with every child. While they are here, I long to see their 2:21, that moment when they stop believing what they’ve learned in abuse and start looking for hope, for self-assurance, for agape love.
When we can find their 2:21 we give them a chance in hell at becoming something more in life. We give them a shot and achieving greatness over settling for what they are told they can be. We’ve helped them find the first tool they need at breaking the chains of what was to find the freedom of what can be!
That is the question that there is really no answer to. Each child has suffered different kinds, different amounts of abuse and therefore the answer to bringing them hope, to reversing their pain will be different for each one.
There is no magic recipe, no enchanted potion, no by-the-book script for this. The best we can do it pray that we recognize the needs, understand the pain, and find ways to break through the walls without doing more damage in the process.
Breaking through these walls isn’t going to be done with a sledgehammer and explosives. Oh it’ll get the job done, but when the dust settles they will just rebuild that wall stronger, better, and more secure than it was to start with.
No to break down the walls our kids come in with, to bring them from the isolation of their pain, we have to work slowly and methodically.
Think archaeology not Chip Gaines on demo-day! No instead of jumping through walls, we have to carefully dig around the issue, expose it, and figure out why it’s there in the first place. It’s a slow, meticulous, sometimes painful process, but it’s necessary to both preserve the past and create a new better future for the child.
And over time, we’ll be able to change the voices in their head. Oh I wish it was as simple as wiping off the grease marker from your skin, but even the artist who made the video above know that isn’t the case. Each of them deal with their own demon every day, but do so in a healthy way that should be an example to everyone.
So when you sit down and start working on the pain and hurt you, your kids, or even a friend has endured in the past, realize that the work may never be done. Each layer peeled back, each voice changed from a negative to a positive will probably reveal more layers of pain hidden below.
But as with each new finding of understanding in an archaeologist’s dig we find new knowledge, each time we help someone find positive thoughts to overcome the abuse and pain of their past, we help them come one step closer to knowing peace, joy, happiness, and self-confidence.
And if we’re very lucky, we’ll bring them to the place where they can look up and see God’s love, God’s willing hand of mercy, and God’s gracious healing waiting for them at the end of the long, dark tunnel they’ve just left behind.