If I had to rank Daniel's list of needs, the need to feel safe would be second only to his need to feel loved.
I'll never forget last November, flying down to Guatemala by myself with the plan to live there till I could bring Daniel home. We had been trying to get him home for two and a half years and, like a pregnancy that has gone past 40 weeks, we could see that the situation he was forced to stay in was becoming toxic. Since we had completed most of the process of adopting him, we were able to foster him in Guatemala till the adoption was complete.
Although I had visited numerous times before, this time felt different because he was now forever mine. I had spent so many months trying to make him my son that I had never really focused on becoming his mother. All of a sudden I realized exactly how little I knew about this little boy.
My first night there we stayed at a hotel in Antigua. We chose the location because it was close to friends who were living there, also fostering their son. This hotel was different from the one we had stayed in with Daniel on previous visits. This hotel was one story and the door to our room faced an outside courtyard. (The other hotel was a high-rise and our door faced the interior of the hotel.) It was soon apparent that Daniel didn't feel safe in our room.
Every night we were there, he had the same ritual. He'd check and double check the locks on the door, then he'd push all available furniture up against the door. He also had trouble sleeping--he'd have his eyes open staring at the door and window from the bed like a little night watchman. Finally sleep would overtake him and his eyes would close for a few hours until his semi-conscious body would remind him that he wasn't safe. He'd sit upright in the bed in a state of panic, often jumping out of bed to check the locks and the barricade of furniture.
Just watching him broke my heart. His level of fear was so far beyond anything I had seen before in a child. This was way beyond imaginary monsters in the closet or being frightened in a thunderstorm. This was a little boy in survival mode.
He has come a long way since November of last year. There was even one night recently that Brady was afraid and Daniel comforted him with: "Don't be scared because God is always with you." I can't tell you what joy it brings to walk into his bedroom at night and watch him sleep in perfect peace. To know that when awake and while asleep, this child now knows he is safe. It is a gift I will never again take for granted.
And yet, there have been times in my life that I haven't felt safe. I have locked myself in figurative rooms and pushed the furnishings up against the doors to keep the rest of the world out. There have been nights that I wake in a cold sweat--worried about my kids, or finances, or the future. Sitting upright in a panic, like Daniel wanting to check the locks on the door. The fear remains when I try to find safety in my self-made barricades. It isn't until I remember that "God is always with me" that I find that perfect peace.
This week's Sunday dinner of scripture is:
The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
Proverbs 18:10, NIV
I love the image of our God as our "strong tower." This certainly isn't a first floor hotel room in Guatemala with furniture reinforcing the door. Our God is our fortress, lifting us high above our enemies, that we might rest in His perfect peace. And if we will run to Him, not only will we feel safe . . . we will be safe.
This week's dessert of song is Phil Wickham's beautiful tune called "Safe." May you feel the safety of His Almighty arms.
More Than Lots,