Making Sense of Pain

Making Sense of Pain

Making Sense of Pain

Every once-in-a-while a phrase from a book or article sticks with me and makes me ponder. An example of this was a phrase from a historical novel about a sibling group's travels through the difficult child welfare systems of the early 1900s. The phrase that stuck with me was:

"They wanted a pain they could understand."

When I think about this phrase in terms of kids at the Ranch, I think of the difficult behavior of self-harm. Self-harm in traumatized children and teens is so difficult to understand. These children have been neglected, abused, tortured, and trafficked. Then they come to a safe place where people love and care for them, whether at the Ranch, a foster home, or with an extended family member, and they continue to find ways to cause self-harm... scratching, head-banging, punching themselves, and cutting.

We know there is no one reason for the self-harming behavior, but this is certainly one reason. We all yearn for control in our lives. When a child has been a "punching bag" for the people around them, with no understanding of the why or when, not only is the pain intense... it defies understanding. How many times have you said, "How can one person do that to another?" Now imagine you were the person receiving the pain. How do you make sense of that? One way children cope is to take charge of the pain they feel. It is a way to exert control. It is a way to claim their own feelings. They may not understand why, but the act of self-harm creates a sense of relief.

With much care, treatment, therapy, compassion, and faith, these hurting kids find they do have control in their lives. They find new ways, words, and actions to express what they are feeling. They learn alternatives to managing the inevitable frustrations and difficulties of being human. They learn that pain is not a necessary part of their lives.

In the best of results, they find a happiness they can understand.

Please keep our children and staff in your prayers.

In His love,

Joy Ryan, President/CEO
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

You can raise funds for your congregation, Bible study group, women's group, or youth group, AND provide hope and healing for a child at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, by hosting a Honey Sunday.

For decades, congregations across the United States have held Honey Sundays. We invite you to join them — and bring God’s love to a child by organizing a Honey Sunday fundraiser.

Honey Sunday keeps the focus on the work of our Lord, your church, and the Ranch. And we make it easy for you to do by sending everything you’ll need. We'll even mail the honey directly to people's homes, so you don't have to worry about distribution.

To request your Honey Sunday materials, fill out the form here!


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