Have you ever read through Exodus and Numbers and wondered, what was up with the Israelites? I think every bible study about this period has a similar theme discussion: Why were they so hard headed? The Lord was before them in a cloud by day and fire by night, and they still struggled to trust him? He provided manna, which was actually delicious, and they were unthankful. What was going on?
I had all those thoughts, then recently, years after adoption, I picked up the bible again and thought, I should read this in chronological order. I got to Exodus and realized something that I had never put together before. The Israelites were behaving like people who endured years of chronic abuse and trauma. (Think about it! They were forced into hard labor and beaten. They endured state sponsored genocide!) It all suddenly made so much sense to me. So much of the behavior that is chronicled about their time in the desert, parallels behavior that is common in children who have endured trauma, abuse, and loss.
A few months ago, I joined a women’s bible study on Numbers and over the next few weeks or months, I want to share some of the thoughts I have had, but first I want to share some of my thoughts about Moses and his relationship with his people:
First, Moses had his own trauma. He was adopted outside of his culture and was separated from his family. He probably grew up watching the abuse of his people from his privileged position. I wonder how he felt. Moses’s trauma is likely played out when he is triggered by the sight of an Egyptian beating a Jew. Moses becomes so angry that he kills the Egyptian and flees to Midian for 40 years. One can only wonder how much healing occurred for Moses outside of Egypt. (Dr. Karyn Purvis used to say, “You cannot lead a child to a place of healing if you do not know the way yourself.”)
Moses’s relationship with the Israelites is what we, as adoptive parents, should aspire to. He understood their trauma and had compassion on them. Moses often begs God for mercy on their behalf. He intercedes for them and loves them like a father.
Like Moses, we (adoptive and foster parents) have trauma history, more often than not. I believe we are called to Moses’s example to do the healing work, have compassion, and encourage our children to turn from their sin and follow God.
Today, I finished the bible study I mentioned previously, and I thought maybe I should blog about my thoughts as an adoptive mom. I have been sharing my thoughts with other adoptive moms and my husband, who have been encouraging and affirming. I thought perhaps there are others out there who might be encouraged.
Who this blog is for:
Moms who have adopted or fostered. I think moms who have older adopted children will relate to my articles. Also, moms who, for a number of years, have been parenting children who have experienced profound abuse or neglect will probably relate more.
Who this blog is not for:
I am not writing this blog to help explain trauma to people who are not caregivers. I am not good at explaining trauma and behaviors to people who have never adopted or fostered. There are people out there who are gifted in this, but I am not one of them. If you are reading this blog, and it makes no sense to you, that is okay. I hope you will let go of any offense. God gives us all our own life experiences.
If you are unfamiliar with trauma, or perhaps as an adoptive parent it is difficult to believe that trauma is still affecting your child, let alone the Israelites after wandering the desert, I have a few resources that helped me understand. One resource is a book called, The Body Keeps the Score, by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk M.D. This is an important book about the authors research with military veterans suffering from PTSD. He expands his research from veterans to adults who suffered chronic and developmental trauma in their childhood.
A few other resources are:
The ACE (Adverse Childhood Events) Study found here: https://acestoohigh.com/aces-101/
Dr. Karyn Purvis’s lecture, Introduction to TBRI found here: https://youtu.be/7vjVpRffgHQ
See other resources from Dr. Purvis including her books, the most recent was co-written with a wonderful adoptive mom who was able to complete it with Dr. Purvis’s staff after Dr. Purvis passed.
There are many other resources, but this is a good start if you would like to begin this rewarding journey of compassion.
This blog is probably not going to make sense if you don’t read the bible:
Many of the popular bible story movies I’ve seen take a LOT of liberties. When I read the actual bible, I realized that I had a very incomplete and inaccurate picture of what happened. For each blog post, I plan to put the book and chapter at the top. It might help to read or listen to that chapter in the bible first.
If you want to dig deeper, the bible study I went through is called, “Numbers, The Way of the Wilderness, A Seek and Find Study,” and it can be found on Amazon. I am not affiliated with the people who wrote this study, but I thought it was user friendly for the regular mom like me, so I recommend it. I think video teachings also go with the study, but I think it could easily stand alone. There are a few shocking situations in Numbers that might be better explained by the teachers in the videos, but perhaps you can find more information with some online commentaries if you opt for the book study alone.
I am NO theologian. I am just a mom, reading the bible, and I have some thoughts.
If you would like to share your thoughts with me, please send me a message. I would love to hear from you.