As if there were not enough startling and gut-wrenching details that came out of Cleveland this week, maybe the one that we won’t hear much about is the daughter of Amanda Berry who was “born in captivity.” Again, without knowing details, this child was born into something most of us will never know, nor will most of us ever know the debilitating effects that it will have on her life, where fear, violence, hatred, and so many other experiences are the norm. Although most of us face less volatile versions of it in our lives, most do not know the experience of being trapped within the confines of captivity, being born into prison of sorts, where what we think of life is just the opposite of the way God has created. You’ve got to wonder where she is developmentally? How does she sleep? How does she make the huge leap into freedom when, for her, life has been anything but free?
Although we can’t physically put ourselves in this young girl’s place, I dare say the feeling of being trapped is quite common, when it feels like the weight of the world is on our shoulders or a heaviness on our chest that keeps us from freedom and seemingly powerless because of the fear that debilitates us. The reality is, in our quest for being one with God, we often feel trapped in this world. It so often appears that death is the only way out, and I’m sure at times, all the young women in that “house of horror” probably thought that death would be their only way out, that their only way to freedom was through death. At least their pain and suffering would end. At least they would not have to face the trauma of abuse and rape any longer. What a horrific way to live their lives; what a horrific way for this young girl to be introduced to life, to men, to what it means to be human.
Although they no longer have to face the ongoing trauma of living, or rather, dying, in that house, they will spend countless weeks and years of their lives now being born into true freedom. Yes, it is something to celebrate, that they have physically been removed from such horrid conditions, but now comes the task of the spiritual birth that they will face, from a soul captivated by fear to a soul that is set free to live as God intended. That young girl was truly “born into captivity” but now begins the agonizing process of being set free from what has taken hold of her. If she, and all of us, remain patient with the birthing process that takes place in our hearts and souls, there is a great gift that awaits; a painful wound will in turn become the sacred wound that will eventually bring life to all. It’s not easy, and it won’t be for them; but in the end, it is the only way to cross the threshold from captivity to life and freedom.