Do you ever feel powerless to effect change in the chaos of trauma in your son or daughter’s life? I know I sure have. Some days it was so bad that I questioned whether my sons were even better off in our family. Those were hard days, but they passed. Not because of anything I did, but just because of the natural ebb and flow of parenting children from trauma backgrounds. Some days are just harder. Then they get better.
Webster’s dictionary defines power as “the ability to act or produce an effect”. In my attempts to gain power over the chaos, I often turned to self help books on parenting traumatized kids – even in the early days I had a shelf of them. I’d try this method, then that. I was looking for a power source to battle their issues. I looked for power, out of love for them. And desperation. Knowledge is power, to quote Thomas Jefferson.
I would like to suggest that we be mindful of what power we are trying to harness in our pursuit of healing for our children. It may be that our best intentions will lead us down paths not meant for us. To whom or to what program are we looking for solutions? Psychology? Neuroscience? Evidenced-based practices that are trauma-based? At what point do allegiance to and reliance on these powers cause us to veer away from the only real solution?
I came across a shocking (to me) realization in the Word of God today. God doesn’t want us looking for any other power source except Him. Ok, sure, I have always thought that was a safe assumption. But perhaps it is not only an assumption, but rather a command that we need to adjust our lives around.
Exodus 20 tells us And God spoke all these words:
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
First off, let’s be mindful that deliverance from slavery in Egypt parallels deliverance from anything that had us (or our children) in bondage, including traumatic past experiences. We are reminded that God brings people out of bondage. Then we are told how to partake of that truth.
Have no other gods.
At least, that is what I was taught is the plain meaning. And if I was being honest, I thought it a bit archaic to modern life, because, after all, our cultural doesn’t celebrate a plethora of gods does it? And for those of the Judeo-Christian beliefs, we’re mono-theistic anyway, so it seems unnecessary, or a ‘duh! moment’. Even when I read it (with the help of translators) in the Hebrew, it reads “you shall have no elohimbefore me.
Elohimand the shortened form El are universally recognized as a name of God, and also translated as god with a lowercase g. So far we still have the same translation: have no gods before me. Ok, we are back to a command toward monotheism. Or are we? What if el and elohim are not just a name of God, or reference to false gods.
Take a look at this verse from Genesis 31 (especially notice the Hebrew words in bold).
It is in my power (EL) to do you harm, but the God (Elohim) of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Be careful not to speak either good or bad to Jacob.’ Genesis 31:29 NASB
This is Laban speaking to Jacob. The word ‘power’ is the Hebrew word el, shortened for elohim! No one translates this verse as “It is in my god to do you harm”. Context tells us that Laban uses el as “power,” not “god.” Now let’s take another look at the second commandment:
“You shall not have any other elohim before Me.” Now we know that sometimes el or elohim can just as easily signify any force believed to be powerful, even if it is not divine.
Are we actually being told to not have allegiance to other “powers” besides God? Does that change the commandment for you? It does for me. And this includes what kinds of power sources to choose from in the fight against the chaos of traumatic early life experiences. What are YOU looking to to deliver you?
******thank you to the following source: David Fohrman, The Exodus You Almost Passed Over