Dungeons and Dragons

I’ve changed the names in this story for the privacy and protection of those I write about in this blog.

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I’ve learned more about myself through the children I have worked with than I can say they learned from me. But we are all teachers in life, and we can learn from others how to strengthen our crafts for the good of others and ourselves if we are willing to work out our God-given gifts, even from those who desire to harm us in the spiritual realm.

Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

God makes all things good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose; every person has a purpose, but not every person loves God. This is a freewill gift from God, and He has given every human the freedom to obey His commands or not, just as He gave Adam and Eve in the garden. Our free will offering to God is precious to Him because we, as His children, offer that to Him. It means we fully trust Him in all our circumstances, and He gives us the power of His Holy Spirit to do His will. To be His children and follow Him in His ways, be righteous, provide justice, and be humble.

On one particular day, one of my kids at school, Jacob, was struggling with anxiety; he got so overwhelmed he threw his desk and went into a fit of rage. Jacob was passionate about justice, and if justice was not given according to the standards he believed were valid such as bullying, he would throw a fit of rage. Things would go flying! But I didn’t know how to help him, and I kept praying for God to show me what to do. The worst part was that I was the only one he trusted to share his thoughts; I didn’t feel capable of such a task. Finally, I realized that God didn’t call me to fix Jacob; the Lord brought me there to help the children cultivate their gifts. Once I realized this, the pressure was off me, and I saw Jacob’s passion for righteousness; he had righteous indignation against unjust things and felt helpless, so things flew. Jesus turned over tables in the Temple of God because of the wicked things people were doing in the house of God. I also knew that feeling of helplessness could make one feel as though they were trapped in a dungeon of despair. I saw Jacob’s spirit breaking because he didn’t know how to fight against the confusion in his mind. He was right to feel this way because, unfortunately, some adults unknowingly gaslight children by not listening and validating a child’s concerns; they need to be heard and validated. They need to feel safe and protected. The devil is out to destroy children more than anyone; have you ever wondered why this is so? The Bible shows since the beginning that children were murdered because the enemy knew they would grow up to be great leaders, kings, judges, and warriors of God; they even tried to kill King Jesus. The devil also uses people to destroy children’s dreams by crushing their spirits from exploring and self-discovery. Some parents don’t like to deal with a messy house, so they don’t allow their children to explore and play.

Finally, when things settled, and Jacob calmed himself, he read a story he had written in front of the class. As I listened, my heart was filled with joy. He wrote a story about Dragons and Dinosaurs invading a small city. Ultimately, his character saved the town from the dragon and befriended the dinosaur who helped him defeat the dragon. This was an answer to my prayer for Jacob, Jacob’s passion for justice was good, but he needed to learn how to tame his flaming temper, his dragon. Through his gift of storytelling, counseling, SEL, and other tools, such as one of my favorite books for children, A Little Spot by Diane Alber, I witnessed Jacob’s transformation. I encouraged him that his anger against injustice was good, but he could be more proactive and heard with the proper tools. Lastly, I told him people would listen if things weren’t thrown at them.

Another child, Damien, was frustrated, and I caught him engraving the “F” word on his desk. I gave him a piece of paper and told him I understood he was frustrated; however, he shouldn’t vandalize school property. Instead, he could write on this paper whatever he wanted, crumble it up, and hand it to me so I could throw it away. He was shocked, and I reassured him that he would not get into trouble if his writing were not life-threatening to him or others. The purpose was to give him a safe space to write his frustrations or vomit out those negative thoughts on paper to make space in his brain to focus on better positive things, such as math. Damien excelled in math but was overwhelmed by something that happened at home, usually in the mornings. Other times, his thoughts of abandonment would creep in. He couldn’t understand why his parents abandoned him, and he blamed himself. I understood those feelings and finally told him he wasn’t the reason. They were the reason, and they needed to get help for themselves. I also told him that sometimes kids are safer without parents who can harm them. A shifted perspective helped him get unstuck and enabled us to move forward; this was a learning moment for both of us, and we began writing his new script together. He loves math and drawing, so he used drawing as a tool to unleash his anger. One day, he drew a picture of an eye, one side with tears and the other happy. I asked him what it meant to him, and he said he could be happy and sad simultaneously; they could live together. That was profound for me because, at the same time, I was struggling with my son’s death; he taught me that I could integrate my grief with joy.

In conclusion to these stories, what the Lord revealed to me through these children was the entrapment of my inner child, as they mirrored my anger against the injustice, abandonment, and despair I experienced most of my childhood and adulthood. I felt I was going back in time to free myself from my dungeon of despair. I had to relive through them, help my inner-child work out her frustrations, and validate what was not validated. If I could go back, I would have done things differently. However, through counseling and my work on myself, I learned that I didn’t have to stay stuck. Also, we can model to children what was not modeled to us. With a teachable spirit, we can show compassion, forgive those who have harmed us, set boundaries, tame our dragons, and move out of our dungeons with the help of professionals.

Check out the Resource Page and my Library for recommendations that helped me. I am reading The Body Keeps Score by Bessel A.van der Kolk (2014) and EMDR by Francine Shapiro and Margot Silk Forrest (2016).