A Wounded Healer
By Colleen Ervin
Immediately upon walking through the doors of Prince George’s County Hospital’s trauma unit Rotoya William’s father was there to greet her. She described an extended pause that in that moment felt like forever, though she wishes now, was just a bit longer; for the words that would follow would change her life forever. “Your mother has gone on to heaven”. In that moment a certain strength took over her. She said with a questioning authority: “Did you pray?” “Take me to her.”
She demanded to see her mother, though standing over her bruised and broken body that was swollen nearly two times over; the woman that lay on the hospital’s table looked nothing like her. The family asked the doctor for a moment alone as her father, best friend, and Williams began to pray over her. In that moment staring at her lifeless deceased body, she recalled a biblical tale that spoke of a mother whose son had passed away. The mother pleaded with God and cried out “I didn’t ask you for a son, and yet you gave me one, and you took him from me.” A prophet then laid upon the dead body of her son seven times over and God restored breath into his lungs and brought her son back to life.
Like the prophet, Williams climbed onto the table and upon her mother’s body seven times. The scene to an oblivious onlooker must have been horrific. What a sight to someone who didn’t understand or recognize the word of God, and the audacity she possessed to call upon the same miracle he bestowed upon this woman and child in the bible. But she was no different than his faithful servants in the bible. She ministered over God’s flock, her father was a pastor, her mother a principal, they were the first family of a church. They lived, preached, and abided by God’s will and now they had to call upon the Lord and ask not for favor, but for a blessing.
After the completion of her seventh repetition she climbed from her mother’s body and noticed a change. Her cold motionless body began to exude warmth. “Someone quickly get a doctor in here!”
When asked to give her childhood a color, Williams selected white. “White is pure, innocent, and bright.” She explained while comparing her childhood growing up to that of an old school family sitcom. Her family consisted of her mother, father, and an older sister who is two years her senior, leaving Williams, the beloved baby of the family.
Her mother was a teacher during her school aged years and taught at the same elementary school she attended. Her eyes squinted as she fondly revisited home movies in the back of her mind. “We would ride into school together every morning as she would give my sister and me motivational and spiritual gems that would get us through our school days.” Her father worked late hours across town while also ministering to their church so there were many late nights that Williams would climb into her parent’s bed and snuggle up to her mother, falling asleep while listening to the cadence of her heart beat.
“They used to tease and call me a lap baby; I was always in my mother’s lap. I still remember lying across her legs covered in her Sunday’s best, resting in her arms during church services up to the age of about nine. Finally, I left my father no choice” Williams continued. “My father was forced to pull my mother aside and notify her that I was beginning to get too big for such a display and that it was beginning to look downright odd.”
Crawling off of her mother’s lap and into puberty Williams began to come into her own, or at least her own attitude! She found herself constantly at odds with her father. However, no matter how much he put his foot down, asserting his power as disciplinarian of the family, he always gave his children a choice. Many times he didn’t want them going to “questionable” parties or to other events where the average teenager could be introduced to worldly temptations, but he never kept them from going as long as the event’s conditions were reasonable and safe. He spoke to them about their morals and then about the realities of the world, and if they still made the choice to attend he would drop them off and pick them up.
One area of life where Williams’ parents did not give her a choice in the matter was piano lessons. She had been receiving piano training for quite some time, so naturally when she reached the middle school age and began to rebel from everything else, she decided that she no longer wanted to attend her piano lessons. They allowed her sister to stop her training, however; her piano teacher pulled her parents aside and told them “there is something special embedded within Williams, no matter what don’t let her quit” Williams recalls. In keeping with their promise to her instructor and to William’s best interest they didn’t. She soon began to see glimpses of this “something special” that her instructor spoke of when she would get angry.
“Whenever I was my most upset I would jump on my piano and sing and play like it was nobody’s business!,” Williams said. “Looking back now if I had to pinpoint a time where I began to evolve and recognize my own talent, this is where I would say the stem began to grow.”
During the coming years the stem within Williams began to sprout buds, and delicate flowers soon blossomed all around her. As explained by Williams, the Lord began to speak to her subtly. He first spoke to her in a whispering nudge that gave her the desire to share her gift of music with the church as she began to play the piano every Sunday. She next blended her love for people and being social with her love for the Lord and stuffed everyone that could fit, into her GMC Jimmy truck and carted all that were uncomfortably crammed to church every Sunday. “To this day people still poke fun and say that I began the first transportation ministry of the church.”
Williams went on to divulge how God began visiting her in her dreams, revealing details of individuals that she knew. In these visualizations she would see difficult times and obstacles people that she was familiar with were either encountering or would soon encounter. She would then go and speak with them and try to advise them as best as she could or perhaps if nothing more she would pray for these individuals, realizing that they were revealed to her for a reason and needed her support, even if from a distance through prayer.
Like flowers in the same garden members of her family began to bloom as well. Her father founded Edified Christian Ministries International in which he was the senior and acting Pastor. Her mother went on to become the principal of a local elementary school. Williams began attending Howard University and majored in biology. Initially the taste of freedom and the smell of desire captured her attention just as it would any other college freshman on their own for the first time; however, by her second semester she desired something much greater. Williams accepted her calling into ministry and gave into her overwhelming urge to lead people to Christ. “My greatest desire is to see people delivered and spiritually whole: mind, body, and soul.” Within the process of her spiritual evolution she began her musical evolution as well. She no longer played music and sang the song on the page, Williams began to write music and sing the song of her heart.
On the cusp of earning her degree, Williams moved back home where she could focus on her sporadic class schedule coupled with her ministries which consisted of mentoring and spreading the Lord’s teachings to many of the area’s universities. She also had a small yet developing side business that she founded during her sophomore year in college entitled “Pee-Wee Piano” which was a piano tutorial program which consisted of lessons given to individuals either in their home, or in the basement of her parent’s home. Not too soon after expanding to the basement studio, Williams speaks of hearing God’s voice yet again. He told her to build up and out and with a prayer and one month’s lease she rented a suite space and became an official entrepreneur at the age of twenty-two.
On the morning of Feb.15, 2007 following both Valentine’s Day as well as the morning following vicious ice storms that had plagued the Maryland area, Williams kissed her mother goodbye. She had no idea then, but on this morning she watched the final petal fall on her most beautiful flower of them all. On her way into school, after nearly a twenty-minute commute, upon reaching Howard University’s campus, Williams heard that familiar voice yet again, she states; however, this time God wasn’t whispering. He overcame her with the sudden urge to turn around and head back home. Approximately fifteen minutes into her return trip she received the call that her mother had been in an accident while attempting to travel into work to check on the conditions of her school.
Warmth began to exude from William’s mother’s body and surely this meant that God returned her to their family just as he did this woman’s son in the Bible. Medically the doctor explained there are possible reasons why a body may begin to warm after one has passed, but it wasn’t because she was returning to those who loved her on earth, but rather those who loved her in heaven.
“The hardest lesson that I have had to learn to date is how to manage such a drastic loss.” Williams explained. “Where do you place and store the guilt of the ‘if-onlys’?” How do you grieve when you feel as though you can barely function? When and how can you begin to emanate emotion aside from numbness and pain? Who and what will come after the condolences, the cards, and the prepared meals stop? When will the night simply be the peaceful restful time that follows the day, rather than the rough time where the silent reflection of the painful reality begins? How does one begin to minister and help another when the minster herself is so broken?”
With more questions than she had answers, Williams decided to give it all to God and accept the state of her reality. Her mother/first lady of their church was gone, and her family, as well as the entire congregation, and community were suffering. Over 4,000 people attended her mother’s funeral as William’s father, taught her lesson number one in becoming A Wounded Healer, on this day as he delivered her mother/his wife’s eulogy. In the depths of his mourning he still conjured up the strength to share both her mother’s life and God’s Will to thousands. Williams also took her first step towards becoming A Wounded Healer during her mother’s home-going service as she collected money for a college scholarship fund that was developed to continue her name and her pledge to academic success and excellence. The Regina C. Williams Scholarship foundation is still going strong today.
Other aspects of William’s life are also going just as strong. As difficult and bitter sweet as it was, she went on to graduate summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in biology that spring of 2007. As of today she is studying to receive her master’s degree in Psychology at Bowie State University. Pee-Wee Piano is thriving and has literally knocked down walls expanding its space and its clientele. The piano school now serves as a before/after-care, a summer camp, and an overall school of the arts where children can receive tutorials in a vast array of instruments going far beyond the bench of a piano, where it all began. Williams is also the Assistant Pastor of Edified Christian Ministries International as well the Musical Director for the church.
“My journey revealed numerous questions in which there is a one size fits all answer that can heal the masses of individuals that are suffering from the lost of a loved one.” Williams enthusiastically explains: “PRAY! My healing first began through prayer. Throughout prayer and a heightened intimate relationship with our Lord, I began to heal.”
Williams’ self-concept of the term “wounded healer” was birthed through loss, pain, mourning, and then eventually rebirth. “If you were to ask me what exactly a wounded healer is the greatest example I could give you is Jesus Christ. As he was nailed to the cross and was wounded, he still asked God to forgive his assailants. In midst of his pain he still tried to pardon another’s. When you are wounded, though scarred you may be, you aren’t dead.
“A wounded healer,” she continued, “is an individual that in midst of their darkest moments and deepest sorrows, can still seek God’s strength and has the willingness and determination to share this strength with others. Though still healing I may always be, I am proud to say: I am a wounded healer!”