Raj spent the better part of his first 10 years begging at a Delhi train station. Deaf, mostly blind, and malnourished, he was dropped off at a boys home in an industrial park on the outskirts of town. Today he still has partial sight in one eye, but he is losing that as well.
Trauma such as Raj experienced creates deeply embedded wounds that forever change how the brain functions. The brain has different areas for short-term memory, long-term memory, and memories of extreme experiences. Trauma—even that which happened years ago—can feel so real, just as if it happened yesterday.
How can healing occur? What can break through the great divide when trauma shatters a child?
When David C Cook developed its Children at Risk curriculum, we talked with experts in trauma the world over to gather the latest in research. We know that individuals must experience a measure of healing in order to survive and thrive as adults. What we learned was incorporated into lessons involving spiritual formation, character building, and life skills—a holistic approach.
One section of the curriculum focuses on awe. Awe is a feeling of wonder and amazement at someone or something. You know it when you experience it. Awe moves you deeply and compels you to say, “wow!” Children in our program are encouraged to pause and look at big things such as the sky, a sunset, or masses of humanity (in India, for example), and little things like the detail of a leaf, the pattern on a building, or a monkey’s laugh. The diverse beauty God created in the world elicits awe—and if you’re aware it can be seen in everyday.
Did you know that experiencing awe might contribute to the healing process? Moments of awe share the same space in the brain and are remembered with the same amount of detail as great trauma. Bad experiences cannot be erased, but with the Holy Spirit’s help, awe-filled experiences can fill a child’s heart and mind in ways that are just as strong.
Awe can help overcome some of the stress from traumatic things in life. Studies have shown that awe increases happiness and peace, and decreases stress and pressure. Even positive memories or imaginary awe can have this affect. Experiences of awe can make a child more flexible and a better problem solver. Lessons on awe open the door for a child to experience and look for it and express gratefulness to a mighty Father God who loves him or her.