Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Maxim - The Brilliant One!!

Locking himself away (sometimes in a dirty bathroom) from the world, hours at a time, was Maxim's solution for dealing with life. "Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14.

Maxim was 10 years old when Lena first met him at the orphanage. The supervisors had talked to her about a new little boy that they were especially concerned about. Maxim was unusual because he was completely absorbed into himself. He did not communicate with anyone, not the staff and not the other children. In fact, the other children in the orphanage did not like Maxim and abused him for any reason. As a result, Maxim began to lock himself in the bathroom for hours at a time.

This behavior troubled the supervisors immensely because they had already had three children commit suicide in this orphanage and they were afraid of another. Maxim was also physically very weak and although way beyond babyhood, still wet the bed. Another problem that faced Maxim, especially with his poor health, was that he was in a room where all the boys smoked cigarettes. Lena observed that when the kids she had taken from the orphanage behaved themselves and kept themselves in good relationship with her and others in the family, their beds were not wet. But when there was sin or secrets, the bed, of that particular child, would be wet. As soon as he or she would repent of the behavior the bed would be back to dry. So, this fact of bed wetting did not concern Lena.

But the lack of communication was a grave concern. Even at a Christian summer camp, Maxim had locked himself in a bathroom for more than 30 hours. He was obviously very troubled and this was a problem for the orphanage staff.

When Lena first saw him, she described a little boy, with snot all over his face and body and with an awful smell of urine emanating from his small frame. But when she began to talk to him (and for some unknown reason, he was willing to do this), she saw life in his eyes. Maxim was like her little Olga who just seemed to attract troubles to herself. Lena believed she could find something worthwhile in Maxim and he also became part of the Borblick family.

Although he was completely unaware about proper hygiene and taking care of himself, clothes, hair, smell, Lena eventually discovered, Maxim was extremely gifted in unique areas. Even though he had no formal or even casual learning in these unique areas, he was very skilled at doing them. Among these areas were chemistry, music ( self taught to play instruments) and art. At age 13, Maxim dreamed about learning the piano but, no school of music would take him even though he could play almost any musical instrument.

Lena would talk to Maxim for many hours on any subject as he wanted to share many ideas. He stopped being non-communicative in Lena’s care and with the Borblick family. Although extremely talented, Lena also discovered that Maxim was extraordinary in one other way – laziness. As with all of her children, Lena prayed about Maxim and received a revelation that this laziness would become a real snare for this boy. But he would not listen to her about overcoming this weakness in his character.

Maxim learned the Bible very quickly because he had such an agile mind. But he still had, Lena believed, some spiritual oppression or problem that she felt needed to be addressed. Neither the social workers nor the church would help her in this. They told her to deal with the spiritual warfare on her own. On the one hand they prohibited her from doing what she felt needed to be done, but were unwilling to offer any help. She was all alone in this except for her husband, Sergey. They now had two bed-wetters to deal with and no social, psychological or spiritual help for either boy.

Eventually Maxim finished school with good, but not outstanding, results. He was capable of much more, but even with every little effort, he received high enough marks. He was also baptized in the church. So, Lena saw good progress with Maxim.
It was time now for Maxim to enter the university. Lena begged him to stay in Mariupol so that she could take care of him. She knew he would not do this and would allow himself to become unkempt again. But, he would not listen to her. He entered the medical faculty at the university in Kharkov, a city some 500 kilometers from Mariupol. For the first year, Maxim managed alright. But at the end of that first year, he began to have problems living in the dormitory and began missing lectures. Finally, he left the university. He didn’t want to do the homework and he didn’t want to bathe.

Maxim fully understood that he was wrong, but he chose to live that way anyway. After he left the university, he went into the army and did his mandatory service. Because of army rules and structure, he did what was needed and completed his one year. Lena again suggested that he return to university but enter the field of criminalistics. He liked this idea and seemed enthused by a new direction. He went to Kharkov again, but never enrolled in the university. Instead, he found a job in an art studio carving wood, which he was very, very good at. This studio made custom furniture and decorations so it paid enough for Maxim to live.

In the last year and a half, Lena has not heard from Maxim. Yet, this is another success for her in raising a child with numerous problems so that he could finish school and become a useful adult. Although it has not turned out completely as Lena and Sergey would have desired, they know that they have been obedient to God and done what He has asked them to do in this young life. They pray for Maxim, as they have with Sergey and Yuri before him, that he will one day restore the relationship with them and return to Jesus as Lord of his life.

My personal comments/opinions: Although Maxim never had any kind of psychological assessment, I believe, with my training as a Marriage Family Therapist, that Maxim probably has some form of autism or similar psychological illness. Perhaps it is caused from some level of spiritual oppression, as Lena believes, and perhaps it is due to some form of early brain trauma that neither the orphanage or Lena was aware of. Even though autism is becoming a more frequent childhood diagnosis, there is still very little known as to its cause and even successful treatment is unique to the child and his or her particular level of impairment. Praises be to God that He equipped Lena to be as effective with Maxim as she was. May God protect him and keep him safe.

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