“What do you mean, ‘They ran away’?”
“Why would they run from a place where they’re safe?”
The survivors of a type of complex trauma like human trafficking are diverse, unique individuals. There isn’t a “type” really.There’s no way to spot one in a crowd of people.
With that, there are some themes we’ve seen among the young ladies we serve at work. These young ladies have something in common. They have experienced sexual exploitation at a young age. They also have a similar way of reacting.
They run from their home then come back and see if things there have changed. If things haven’t they ran again. They get found and get placed in a group home. They run from group homes, get found again and then they stay for a little while. Then they run again.
This makes things hard for well-meaning adults to come together and decide what sort of treatment is best. It’s a decision people make as a team, but sometimes it’s a decision one judge makes. And sometimes that decision is to keep them in a facility that is locked down.
Sometimes, this is the worst. Because, if you’re a runner and you can’t run….then you run away from yourself. There’s this thing our brains do to escape and survive and it’s called disassociation. It works, but it then it works against them. See, if we run away from our own selves long enough, it gets really hard to come back together.
All the confusion and questions about why these girls run seems not altogether unfamiliar.
If we’re honest, we all know what it is to run away.
I can know something or better yet, Someone is ultimately good and safe and still run away. If the Truth gets too close to the parts of my heart that hurt and need healing, I can run. If someone sees too far into the insecurities of my heart, I run.
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
:: Psalm 139: 7-10 ::
I run to what I think I need, where I think I’ll find answers and peace. I ran after the gifts of the Father instead of the Father Himself.
In this way, I identify with Luke 17.
He saw an opportunity to take his father’s gifts, his father’s blessing and use them up in ways he hopes will satisfy. Finally, he comes to the end of what the father has given him and decides the father himself is worth returning to. But first he had to come back to himself.
But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”’ And he arose and came to his father.
While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they celebrated.
:: Luke 15:17-24 ::
But when he came to himself, he came back to his father.
And the best part is that the Father ran too.
I run seeking clarity and peace about choices, to the physical voices of loved ones.
I run when I don’t know where to go or how to get to where I need to be.
John 14 comes like a balm to my heart, when Thomas asks, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going so how can we know the way?”
The logical response of Jesus could have been “I’ll show you the way, I’ll show you the truth, I’ll show you your life.”
And we’d like that. It might seem loving, make sense and comfort people.
Instead, Jesus simply answers, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
This God of the new Covenant is the same God of the Mosaic Covenant.
When Moses asked logical questions like “what?”, “how?” and “who?”, Yahweh God says, “I AM that I AM.”
So, we may run, but the real place to go is right up to The Way, the Truth, the Life and know that He is…unchanging, immovable.
Will these girls run away?
I’m not entirely sure they know why themselves, but we’ll figure it out together.
And I pray that when they do, my reaction is a reflection of the Father who ran, when the son was still a long way off.