Today’s guest blog is written by Linda Rice of Gateway Biblical Counseling. She has written an excellent book on Reactive Attachment Disorder and has her own blog, SeedSown. If you are an parent of an adopted child, you may find her writing to be especially beneficial.
Children labeled with RAD are known for not trusting others. Their distrust can be so entrenched and implacable that it appears that they cannot help it. Lack of trust is just how they are wired.
However, the reverse is true. People are wired to trust. We are inherent trusters because God made man a dependent creature and geared man to trust in Him for his needs and desires. When Adam rebelled, he did not stop trusting, only switched his allegiance. It isn’t a matter of trusting or not trusting, per se. It is a matter of who one trusts. As a person cannot stop time but can only choose the directions he will walk during that time, so his immaterial heart cannot stop beating a song of trust but only change to whom it is sung. Everyone trusts someone.
So who does the alienated child trust? Proverbs 3:5 answers the question. It says,
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And do not lean on your own understanding.”
The child known for not trusting doesn’t rely on others for welfare and safety, nor on their counsel for a basic understanding of people, relationships, and how to handle troubles. Nor does he lean on God’s comfort, strength, or guidance in the Bible. The one he trusts is himself. He trusts his own interpretations of his experiences. He trusts his own perceptions of others’ intentions toward him. He trusts his own conclusions about how relationships ought to work. He trusts his own emotions and obeys them. He trusts his own manipulations for control and power to gain whatever it is he wants at the time. He trusts his own self-validation to justify whatever it is that he does to achieve his ends. Even if he wants to do good, he trusts his own ability to be good and do good things.
Where do his ways lead? More trouble. He complicates, rather than solves, his problems.
A fundamental problem of the alienated, angry child is self-trust. Here, then, is hope. We know the solution. God has told us,
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight. (Prov. 3:5-6)
The word “acknowledge” means not just agreement to facts but “to know” with an intimacy that seeks His aid, a.k.a. trust in Him. “Straight” means “to be right, pleasant, prosperous, even.” When a person trusts God so that he submits to and heeds guidance by God, he enjoys a life more secure and freer of difficulties than when he is guided by his own understanding. Trials still occur; they are normal for earth-life. But if he trustingly chooses God’s ways instead of his own, rather than complicate and increase his troubles he will take a right path through them. God will use them for good. The rewards will be pleasant and prosperous.
The child labeled with RAD can trust and does trust someone. That someone is himself. It is likely that everything within difficult children screams in protest against turning from trust in self. But in trusting God there is hope, the only hope, and an unimaginably great reward.
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