She was the littlest thing. Fourteen months old but in nine month clothes. It was 9pm and the social worker put her limp sleeping body in my arms without ceremony. She was finishing up a long day and obviously wanted to get home. Handing the tiny bundle off meant that her final box was checked. She checked off the box and we stepped into it, not knowing what lay ahead. You never do.
They had told us hardly anything on the call: her age and that she was removed from her home because of neglect and abuse. And the social worker added no more details that evening. In fact, they got her name wrong. It would be a week before we would learn her correct name (which I'm withholding because of ongoing security concerns).
The next day we saw signs of neglect and abuse in spades. She wore nothing but a blank expression and cried every time we set her down, even for a few seconds. She was upset every place besides our arms. She slept like a champ, her appetite came and went, and she moaned incessantly, “guh, guh, guh”; something she had obviously learned to self-soothe. She showed no signs of progression for a week and a half. The same blank expression was pasted on her face, the same moans. She had no interest in any engagement: whether with people, toys, or books. We tried to set her down on her own for short periods, but that only produced relentless crying.
And then one morning as we fed her and our kids talked to her tenderly, there was the first smile. Not a full smile, but sort of a half-smile with the faintest twinkle in her eye. She played with buttons on my shirt as I held her in my arms-- the first object she had shown any interest in. And then over the course of the next week the slightest interest in our bed time reading routine. And then just a little bit of interest in a few toys.
Within the next week she would be smiling wide and even laughing. And as we celebrated three weeks with her, she rode our 14 year old’s shoulders and guffawed loudly as Camille raced back and forth.
Three weeks. Mourning into joy. Hurt into healing.
Her smiles beam. Her eyes twinkle.
I’ve never witnessed such powerful healing in so short a time.
Our God is the God of healing.
Malachi tells us that “the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.”[i]
We are all in need of healing. And God’s healing usually takes time. We reach out for his wings and they seem just beyond reach. There are reasons that his healing takes time: there are lessons he needs to teach us, trust he needs to build.
But the fact that his healing takes time is not because his arm is short. His wings offer healing for all of your scars and wounds: physical, psychological, and spiritual. Do you believe that his healing is for you? Do you believe he can restore your smile, your laughter, your joy? Maybe that won’t come in this life. Maybe that healing will only come when you are face to face with him. But it will come. He will heal. He will restore. And his arm is not short, dear friend.
It might take just three weeks.
Photo credit: Janko Ferlic/Unsplash
[i] Malachi 4:2