By Rebecca Pratt, President & Co-Founder
The little boy around five years old looked up at me with a blank stare, with no life to his eyes. When talked to, he looked at me with no expression or emotion, and gave no response. He seemed unable to engage in anything that was happening around him.
If you look close, you may see those who may look as if they are “sleepwalking” mingling among us.
They are ones who have been abused and hurt emotionally or physically to a point that they cannot adequately process what has happened to them, and they have become numb to life around them. Their minds have gone into a type of protection mechanism, similar to what we see in patients who have suffered a head trauma, and go into a sleep coma. Similarly, those who are severely abused can go into this type of emotional live coma when they cannot process adequately the pain that has happened to them. They no longer have the ability to engage in a healthy way socially due to this shut down mode of simply surviving.
We can see this in mental hospitals where some people have gone to a level of a complete mental breakdown due to their mental and emotional pain. We sometimes see this in people who are walking on our streets. Their eyes seem hollow. It seems as if a part of their brains shut down to protect themselves from more hurt beyond what they could emotionally cope with. This shows us how incredibly fragile our brains are.
In our work in Africa, we see this all too often. Particularly in rural villages where we are working in Benin. Children who have been used as a slave, or beaten severely on a regular basis have this dead to life, hollow look in their eyes.
The wonderful part about our work, is when we get the privilege of facilitating this “sleepwalking” state of a child to be reversed. Through love and adequate care, and a hope for a healthy future, eyes become bright and engaging, and all signs of lifelessness fade away.
On a different level, we can also swing this around to parallel some of our own lives as well. Do we get too busy for anything but work and just barely make it through the day without collapsing? Has the pain of our children, or those close to us who are not making wise choices in their lives, begun to cripple us emotionally from being able to see anything outside of our own circumstances? If so, we may need to evaluate how to awaken our own lives from a type of sleepwalk we have been going through as well.
Let’s challenge ourselves in this new year ahead to not be crippled by our current circumstances, and evaluate where our time, money, and energy is being spent. Let us have the courage to make some changes in this new year if this speaks to where you feel your life is at.
The children and families who we help out of dire distress is always a great place to invest, if you do not already partner with us. If you do, Thank you! We are so thankful that you are helping us to bring restoration to so many needy children.
Many blessings on each of you in this new year.