Tuesday, September 20, 2011
The Realness of the Pain of a Former Orphan
She spoke of wanting to go see Big Mom in Africa. The room grew quiet. We listened intently. We asked her if she meant Mom (pointing to Heather). She said no. That was Little Mom. She wanted to go see Big Mom, in Africa. The room was still as we listened.
Peaches has recently had an aversion to things African or things Ethiopian. Even if we have shown her pictures of some of her Hannah's Hope friends, she has said "I don't want to talk about it." We've learned to be very careful in that area. Some days it's OK, other days it's "I don't want to talk about it."
On Sunday, an Ethiopian lady visited our church (no, we don't have a lot of Ethiopian people in the area and yes, it was really cool). Her name is Senait. We introduced Senait to Peaches, and Senait began to speak Amharic to her. Upon hearing the Amharic, Peaches immediately burrowed her head into my chest and then got down and quickly scurried away. When we got home, I asked her why did that. She responded, "I was scared." Ugh. My brain instantly processes the thousands of feelings and emotions that must be flooding her soul. Amharic. Ethiopian. Separation.
So how does a 4 year old mind process these things? Having lost family, food, culture, language, and country, how can she begin to understand that these people that she now lives with will never leave her and will always love her? How can she understand that when she just wants to go see Big Mom in Africa?
As Peaches left the room, and went to do the perfectly contrasting and mundane activity of brushing her teeth and putting on her pajamas, we sat in the room silent. Sunshine cried. T-Bird and Rye Bread were stunned. Heather (Little Mom) was hurt. We all were struck at the reality of the loss in her life - and her inability to understand it or to put it in a box. We talked about the struggle that we heard in her words tonight and how difficult the life of a former orphan really is. Though she now lives in a home that is overflowing with love toward her, there is pain and loss that we can never touch, never understand, never quench.
And yet there is an answer to the seemingly unanswerable question of the pain of her life. The answer is that no matter how destroyed our lives may seem, God is bigger. No matter how deep the hole that we're in may seem, God is bigger. No matter how empty our lives may feel, God is bigger. Though, as her parents, we cannot reach her pain, He can. That's the story of Immanuel, God with us. The Good News is that Jesus came to save sinners. Jesus came to restore lives. Jesus came to heal the broken hearted. Jesus came that we might have life and might have it abundantly.
So how do we answer our little girl's questions about going to see Big Mom in Africa? For now, we love her, a lot. We explain that we can't go to see her now, but maybe someday when she gets older. Then we love her some more. Then we share with her about Jesus. Then we love her some more, and some more, and some more.
Which is what Little Mom is doing right now. She's sleeping in the same room with Peaches. She's sleeping in the same room with her because Peaches is scared at night. And Peaches likes to call out and know that Mom is there. And Peaches likes to reach over and be able to touch Mom in the middle of the night and know that Mom is there. Because that's what Mom's do. They love their children, and then they love them some more, and then they love them some more.