Tag Archives: Hope

To love a girl who has lived through trauma

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A girl who has lived through trauma has lived through a situation where her body, her mind, her self was not her own. Where she felt disjointed, ripped from her self, safety, and sanity. It was a moment, an experience, a something where her trust was smashed, her worth was gone and all there was was pain.
A girl who has lived through trauma is the girl who was pushed into the deep end of the pool when she didn’t know how to swim, but somehow found her way to the ledge anyway. She walked through a forest fire and didn’t succumb to the smoke, but dealt with the burns and made it out in spite of the flames. She found herself in free fall but refused to break upon impact.

She survived. She did.

But the thing about trauma, is that even when it is over it never really goes away.

And sometimes trauma is loud. Sometimes it’s the monster banging at the windows and screaming gutturally and demonically inside of nightmares. It’s nails on a chalkboard and an earthquake that rattles everyone’s floors. It smashes everything in its wake and forces, no, demands that everyone acknowledge its terrible, terrible presence. She won’t have any choice but to sit with hands clapped over her ears making sounds that are barely human because she just wants everything to stop and it won’t.

But other times, trauma is quiet. It’s sneaky.

It’s the feeling that she is being watched or that she is walking down the street with the word ‘victim’ painted on her forehead in red and everyone is privy to her secrets. It’s the nagging fear that if she goes to sleep her dreams will be anything but restful. It’s the little whisper saying, “You will never be whole again,” that itches its way into the back of her mind and repeats over, and over, and over. And you won’t even see it because she convinces herself that she is the only one who knows that it is there.

It’s the feeling that she is a 100,000 piece puzzle of black and grey and everyone staring at the mess realizes that putting her back together is simply not worth the effort.

So when you love a girl who’s gone through trauma, you’re saying that you see the worth in helping her bandage the wounds. You’re saying that you see the worth someone else tried to bury. You’re saying you are not afraid of the bad days and you see the beauty in the good days. You’re saying that a lot of things may scare you, but trauma isn’t one of them.

When you love a girl who’s battled trauma, you’re really saying,

Love, let me help you heal because I believe you can.”

Loving girl who has managed to make it to the other side of a traumatic experience is like deciding to restore an abandoned house. She has the framework and the good bones, but you may need to spackle holes someone else left behind on the the walls. She has the the makings for beautiful, light-filled windows, but you’ll need to replace a few of the cracked panes with new glass. She has the door frame, she just needs a door.

She’ll make a lovely home one day, but there needs some care in order to make a space.

See, loving a girl with trauma in her history is not some choose your own adventure or some level in a game you need to beat. It takes time, it take patience. It’s not something you ‘win at’ it’s something you deal with day by day. It takes a level of commitment because reality is, loving her is not simple.
She is inherently complicated. She is stained with memories she wishes she did not have but that she will never be rid of. She is pieced together and the stitching may be tighter in some spots than others so you have to be careful to not unravel her with one careless tug.

But she is brave. And she is strong.

And when she realizes that you are choosing to love her, and not hurt her, she will love you back with the same kind of tenacity that it took to walk through fire.

And she will hold out her palm and show you the burn marks and instead of apologizing for bothering you with their appearance, she’ll trust you to hold her hand anyway. End link

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My Bursting Heart MUST find vent at my Pen: Part II

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Late nights, long hours
Questions are drawn like a thin red line
No comfort left over
No safe harbor in sight-
Sara Groves

I am fighting all the firsts. The very earliest of word and examples I was taught. I am relearning. And I am weary.

It’s been quite some time since I’ve linked up with Five Minute Friday. It’s been some time since I’ve written regularly. You see, my words are not there. They are stuck inside. Somewhere fighting to find a voice, but feeling so small, so invaluable, so useless.

I am fighting my firsts. I am fighting all the things that were first told to me about how little I matter. I am fighting beliefs about who I was told I was. In some ways I can so clearly see God’s hand freeing me this past year. And in so many ways I also feel so intensely trapped inside, fighting, alone. More alone than I’ve ever known.

diggin in the dirt till it hurts
won’t come up for air don’t care
how long it takes me
I get tired want to just get by can’t I get by
but I can’t cuz there’s a
fire in my bones, fire in my bones
burnin in my bones -Sara Groves

I have joy. I am sure in my core I have much hope too. That’s the thing, my life looks very different than how I feel. And maybe that’s one of the marks of a disciple… that even though inside I feel confused, mixed up, alone, and very weary.. I am weak. I am tired. I long for an end in ways I am not sure any I know can relate to. But on the outside, I am striving. I am living. I am living so fully, vibrantly even. And it’s real. It is not a persona. Inside I can’t sense hope, but I know my life lives hope. Hope show’s up. Words of truth come out from my core, the core that’s been fighting to survive, to live, to grow for so long. It’s the fight of flesh.

oh I’m gonna find the truth
even if it kills me
oh I gotta get a new view
the only way I know to
oh I gotta keep my eyes wide open
keep my eyes wide open Sara Groves

I have seen His hand provide. And I am waiting on that again. The wait is long. It is hard. And there are so many firsts that keep pulling me down. I am crying for relief some days, for a way to voice, an avenue to cry out to, a God with skin on. I know God will be faithful again. And I wait, for the words to come again.

Really we don’t need much 

Just strength to believe
There’s honey in the rock,
There’s more than we see
In these patches of joy
These stretches of sorrow
There’s enough for today
There will be enough tomorrow-Sara Groves

On healing and normalcy

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On healing and normalcy

“You can’t patch a wounded soul with a Band-Aid.” ― Michael Connelly

Over the summer, my housemates and I took many trips to the coastal New England beaches. New England is not known for many areas of intense waves or dangerous waters, except for the occasional beaches where sharks are known (which we just don’t venture to). There’s something about having a rough week or day and then sitting out on the beach, feeling the sand, smelling the ocean, and seeing the vastness that reminds me about how big the world is, especially when my world feels small and lonely.

One particular weekend, the waves were the biggest I have ever seen in Massachusetts. We grabbed our boogie boards and run right in. After taking hit after hit of waves, I walked out within 5 minutes with a bruised and bleeding leg. I couldn’t withstand the pressure. I wanted so bad to enjoy the waves, knowing this was a rarity in Massachusetts, but I couldn’t.

“PTSD is a whole-body tragedy, an integral human event of enormous proportions with massive repercussions.” ― Susan Pease Banitt

Our bodies are made so magnificently and intricately. They are not designed to take hits, wave after wave. Eventually our bodies will go numb. That’s the thing about PTSD as well, our bodies are not made to withstand the events of trauma continually nor the heightened affects of it indefinitely.

“Trauma is personal. It does not disappear if it is not validated. When it is ignored or invalidated the silent screams continue internally heard only by the one held captive. When someone enters the pain and hears the screams healing can begin.”

Atrocities refuse to be buried. The desire of the mind to deny the atrocities are just as forceful. In this subconscious war, the body takes wave after wave of blows, suffering in the areas of digestion, autoimmunity, and within the nervous system.

The conflict between the will to deny horrible events and the will to proclaim them aloud is the central dialectic of psychological trauma. People who have survived atrocities often tell their stories in a highly emotional, contradictory, and fragmented manner that undermines their credibility and thereby serves the twin imperatives of truth-telling and secrecy. When the truth is finally recognized, survivors can begin their recovery. But far too often secrecy prevails, and the story of the traumatic event surfaces not as a verbal narrative but as a symptom.

Often in my journey to heal from trauma and PTSD I am tempted to plunge in, to take on far more than I am capable of handling and processing alone. There’s been pressure from the outside to move through it quicker, to understand more, to go to more classes, more therapy, more support. There’s pressure from within me, demanding I “get back to” normal life, look like everyone else, find a way to understand the world in order to fit into the world.

Because I don’t feel normal. I don’t understand things typically. I feel lost much of the time. And it’s a lonely walk.

The pressure gets to me often, as if I could only attain “normalcy” and then I would be all set, I’d fit in the social club of life. Only, so often normalcy and healing get confused.

For the sake of “normalcy” I try to find support groups, more therapy, a job. I want to exercise more, lead bible studies, be a pursuer through engaging others relationally. I want to be involved in committees and on non profit boards. I want to have a 9-5 career, a house, a newer car.

“Some people’s lives seem to flow in a narrative; mine had many stops and starts. That’s what trauma does. It interrupts the plot. You can’t process it because it doesn’t fit with what came before or what comes afterwards.”

But for the sake of “healing” I see a therapist. I take a couple of slow walks around the neighborhood a week. I stepped down from a local non-profit board. I go to a bible study and allow myself to be a member. I stay committed to the few people I feel responsible to and for, and I focus on loving them well. I coach a sport team, which allows me to have a tiny pay check, but also is a good use of my giftedness in supporting others to grow in a unique way. For the sake of “healing” I say “no” to a lot.

And for the sake of “healing” I scrapbook. I watch loads of netflix. I make dinner for my housemates. I visit friends out of the city at least monthly. I stay in bed when the physical illnesses I have are too intense. I ride the waves of PTSD and trauma when they arise, but I do not go seeking it. I do not jump in head first and hope to conquer it. I know that type of attitude is not only futile, but dangerous.

Because the waves are strong and are sometimes meant to be understood of their beauty from afar, not from a futile battle within.

Write 31 Days

What if… what if we really took the message to love one another seriously?

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What if… what if we really took the message to love one another seriously?

Imagine that. Imagine if the church was known more for reflecting Christ like that instead of reflecting hate or intolerance.

What if… what if we really took the message to love one another seriously? What if we really took the time, the patience, the sacrifices to know others intimately, the people that get looked over? What if we really stopped saying the Church was a family and lived like a family, a family that loved one another, where our needs are actually met, physically and emotionally?

The last few months, I have learned a lot about love. I have learned what it’s not. I have learned some of what it is. I have had a first hand taste at how hard it can be to choose to love when what you want to do is tell another the “truth in love”. But the truth is that love does not harm. Love does not seek it’s own. It does not care to be “right”. Love pursues. Love doesn’t give up. Love seeks what’s best for another. Love helps and holds on and hold hope.

Giving a cliche response in to another in”truth and love” can often be a cop out. Rather than sticking with someone through the hardship/pressure/challenge/suffering, we may choose the more comfortable route of a quick answer or prayer. But often, in the language of love, there is not an easy answer to hardship or suffering or even most sin. The tangles of sin are mixed between our choices and choices that were chosen OVER us. It’s not as easy as “choosing joy” or “stopping” sin. God is less interested in behavior modification as he is in character development. He said in 1 John, to abide in the light. He did not say, this is how you walk in the light. Switch the two and we have dogmatic Christianity.

If  you want to do the work of God, pay attention to people. Notice them. Especially the people nobody else notices. -John Ortberg

This is love:

Isaiah 1:17:

Say no to wrong.
Learn to do good.
Work for justice.
Help the down-and-out.
Stand up for the homeless.
Go to bat for the defenseless.

And this one:

1 Peter 4:8

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

The language of friendship is not words but meanings. – Henry David Thoreau

We give meaning to love. We have one word to convey a whole host of meanings. The language that our friendship speaks is not just through word, but through what those words AND actions AND body language communicate. Love is far more than a word.

“If there is love, there is hope to have real families, real brotherhood, real equanimity, real peace. If the love within your mind is lost, if you continue to see other beings as enemies, then no matter how much knowledge or education you have, no matter how much material progress is made, only suffering and confusion will ensue.” -Dalai lama

You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.- Amy Carmichael

Love your neighbor. Do good to those who harm you. Reconcile. Restore. Build. Create. Dwell. Sacrifice. Offer. Forgive. Sustain. Nourish. Invite. Welcome. Host. Heal. Bind up. Be.

Be.

Be with.

Be near.

Be alongside.

It’s how Jesus loved his neighbors. It’s what he offers to us, Himself. It’s all we have to offer one another.

“Real progress in the Christian life is not gauged by our knowledge of scripture, our church attendance, time in prayer, or even our witnessing (although it isn’t less than these things) Maturity in the Christian life is measured by only one test: how much closer to his character have we become? the result of the Spirit’s work is more not more activity. No, the results of his work are in in our quality of life, they are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”-Elyse M. Fitzpatrick

31 Days of Writing: Love

 

The power of being WITH someone can alter a life.

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The power of being WITH someone can alter a life.

Love is a hurricane in a blue sky
I didn’t see it coming, never knew why
All the laughter and the dreams
All the memories in between
Washed away in a steady stream

I always thought home was just a far dream; some wonderful concept that no one really lived up to. But I dreamed. And dreamed. And dreamed. Most nights, as a youth, I’d lay in bed and wonder what it was like to be cared about. I would imagine someone sitting by my bed at night holding me, hugging me. I would imagine what the words, “I love you” meant coming from someone who loved me. I’d imagine I was warm and cozy and that my blankets smelled of fabric softener. Anything that would allow me to escape my living nightmare for just a few hours of sweet sleep and peace in my dream world. And as I became a young adult, I stopped dreaming. I stopped hoping.

Love is a hunger, a famine in your soul
I thought I planted beauty but it would never grow
Now I’m on my hands and knees
Trying to gather up my dreams
Trying to hold on to anything

As a young adult, this world, this hollow pain and sadness grew. I mustered all the Christian perseverance in me that I could. I became good at smiling in public and weeping in private. I felt a difference in me, in my life. I looked at the Church and felt something about me was different then most others. I carried a sadness, an ache, a deep need and longing. And I pleaded for years for God to help fill this. Slowly, my ministry, my relationships, the little nook of the world I had created started to unravel. I was grasping for hope and I didn’t know it.

We could shake our fists
In times like this
When we don’t understand
Or we could just hold hands

You and me, me and you
Where you go, I’ll go too
I’m with you, I’m with you
‘Til your heart finds a home
I won’t let you feel alone
I’m with you, I’m with you

I sought help. A dear woman came along side me. For the first time in my life, someone stood near me and wouldn’t leave. She was there to see it through. You see, she’s one of the mightiest people I know. She loves fiercely and often gently. She sees. She hopes. Oh and she prays. On some of the hardest nights of my struggling to find words, to fight the terror that came with memories, the emotional strongholds, the physical flash backs, she sat next to me, she held my hand, she held my heart. She was my Ruth. She was not giving up on me. She wouldn’t let me go.

You do your best to build a higher wall
To keep love safe from every wrecking ball
When the dust is cleared we will
See the house that love rebuilt
Guarding beauty that lives here still

And I fought her at times, I fought her will. I fought her love. I doubted and questioned. I pushed her away, or at least I tried. My walls were high. The cost of letting another in was even higher. But she stayed. She slowly did the work of loving me, of taking bricks down gently, one at a time. She encouraged me in ways I would never have dreamed of, in ways that someone who really KNOWS you is able to. This was not easy for either of us and it was costly. It took sacrifice. It took bravery. It took love. I never knew such a love existed.

Some nights we’d lay in bed and just hold hands because life was painful. She wept for the pain that this life can hold and do to another. She expressed anger. She gave my a right to feel, to feel whatever I did, without a need to keep a wall, no matter how seemingly “ungodly” my feels appeared. She stayed by my side. Dinners, outings, holidays, birthdays, family days, everyday things, church events. She stood near me, often literally. The power of being WITH someone can alter a life. It did mine.

Who can say I’m left with nothing?
When I have all of you, all of you, yeah
In the way you’ve always loved me
I remember He does too

About a year ago, I drove by her old house. She had moved a couple weeks prior out of state. And I missed her terribly. I missed her whole family, a part of my family. It was a place I drew chalk pictures on the sidewalk with her kids. A home I spent countless dinners, lunches, and weekend afternoons at. I discovered new foods in her home. I discovered a new way of life. Her home was small, but it was warm. And I went back that day, just because I missed her.

I crept up the stairs to her old home and looked around her yard, for any reminder that she used to live there, for something to grasp, some memory that it all happened, that it mattered. As if this location held some power.

I looked in the window and saw everything empty. Nothing. I gasped, a little shocked. Shocked that this was just a house. And I learned that day, home isn’t so much about a location, a physical house. Home is a people. A people who get you, who know you and still want you. Home is the place you’re welcomed back into without needing a welcome. Home is a people that hold your heart when you’ve forgotten it somewhere along the pain of life. Home is a people who fill a house.

She gave everything she had to me. What was once used to harm me, doesn’t harm me anymore. Love covered that, revealed it, and is healing it. The love of God through her sacrifices, through her love. I know what it means to have a home. To be loved.

She gave me shelter for my wounds and she stood and held me many times when I was too weak, to shattered to hold my own heart.

Even though Jesus had the 99 sheep, He still would go back to find the one that was struggling. That one is worth much. Each one is worth much. Sometimes the cost of bringing one back is heavy. Oh but people are worth it. So worth it.

Love is rebuilding a home in me. What was once used to hurt, is now being used to heal. She saw beauty in me and called it out. Now I know what a home is.

31 Days of Writing: Home

The Frailty of life

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The Frailty of life

It’s been a strange, beautiful, nostalgic New England weekend. It’s our first real cold weather. The trees are changing colors. Apple picking is in full swing. You can find pumpkin everything in nearly every store. It’s the time of season where you sort of get sick of apple pie and apple crisp that others bring to events to get rid of their apples.

Fall is strange. It’s the season that ushers in winter; the hard season. It’s as if God beautifully paints our foliage before the harshness comes. Fall is beautiful, but it leaves me anxious this year. The last few falls have been very difficult.  And I’m rolling with it, because I can’t do anything else. But anxiousness is hard. I’m not sure what to expect.

Today on the drive home from a weekend trip I just cried. Tears for people I love who are struggling. Tears for people I just want to make things right for, but can’t. So often I wish I could take their suffering, their hurt away, even if it cost me. Empathy is a gift, but it’s costly.

I see so much Jesus in you, not because you’re perfect, but because you’re not.

I came in my house and found a dear friend sitting there. SURPRISE. I literally leaped onto her on as she lounged on the couch, a full body embrace. We chatted and drank tea. We talked about the ups and downs of our week. I laid on her lap and wept. And she just rubbed my hair and proceeded to encourage me in ways my soul had been parched of for many seasons.

Often we are quick to point out others flaws. We continually remind others of them, things they need to work on. Not often enough do we tell people the things we see that are GOOD in them, the positive things, the things that are Jesus like. My dear friend said she remembered when I was near “perfect”. I did nothing wrong. I was semi stoic and had all the “right” doctrine for every issue. Now I am sort of this messy blob, trying to find my way half blinded, half hoping. She said she sees more Jesus in me than anyone she’s ever met, not because I’m perfect, but because I am not anymore, because I am so honest with my faults and failings and shortcomings, that Jesus is all the more real in me. That I still am able to do and be all that I am AND be a mess is a testimony of the power of God and the gifts he’s given me. WOW.

I talk to my counselors about you. I mean, who would send me an empathy card after I broke up with my boyfriend? Maybe people would send a card if they thought I was sick and dying, MAYBE, but for a break up? No one but you. You live as if you recognize the frailty of life and that grief comes from all sorts of places.

I don’t feel very hopeful often. But my dear friend pointed out that, though I may not feel hopeful, I LIVE with much hope, and that is much much greater. That’s real courage. Real integrity. I am involved in many things, pursue others, care well. I have every reason to have given up. But I have not. Friend said she has never met another person who loves people so personally by recognizing the frailty of life that each dear person has.

How encouraging to know that though I battle and fight many days and feel like a failure, my life is still lived with much hope and expectation and joy in God.

The world needs more people to embrace that which is GOOD in others and SPEAK it alive to them. No one will ever die saying they had too much encouragement. God can tear the things in our hearts down well enough. We don’t need one another doing it as well. Let’s be a people known for our exhortations, praise and gratitude, and affection for one another. A people that looks at the image of God in each person and declares it GOOD.

31 Days of Writing: Embrace