Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Comfort

There are seasons when we are intimately acquainted with suffering. Times when trials immobilize and sear. Moments when we find ourselves prostrate or reeling, saturated with grief and questions.

My story involves sifting through layers of events and areas of wounding. Though our family's journey through PTSD is somewhat known, there are few who know what I clutched beneath the cloak of sadness.

I had only just begun to work through the trauma of having a son with a life threatening medical disorder when Roger returned from Iraq changed. After years of living in fear that 'today could be the day my little boy would die', God provided release from daily terror as I placed my precious son on the altar, surrendering the illusion of control, asking instead for sustenance. I assumed the arc through the recovery process would continue, and I hoped my husband and I would bond as we moved towards healing from that life altering diagnosis.

Yet what followed the joyful reunion was only isolation and more grief. It became clearer that our re-adjustment phase was not resolving as my husband became volatile and emotionally unsafe. I went from healing to survival mode in a matter of weeks- and as the months drew on, barriers were erected in order to protect myself from chaos.

When Roger self admitted to a VA facility I felt I could breathe again. While he was gone I had space, safety. Still, I was far away from family and friends and only a precious few perceived what was happening in our marriage. Fewer still knew what was happening within my own heart.

Roger began to bring home pottery he'd made as a part of his therapy, confronting me with the severity of Post Traumatic Stress disorder. That harsh reality plunged me into despair. My hopes and dreams for a stable family life shattered. The fragments of my life seemed not merely broken, but ground into dust... it seemed there was nothing left to piece back together.

The moment I came to the end of myself is still so vivid. After months of simply trying survive, I found myself crumpled on the floor, overwhelmed by sorrow. The prayer that escaped in the midst of utter brokenness was one name: "Jesus". I cried out in sheer agony, "Help me!" and found myself engulfed; covered in light, in soothing warmth and complete and total acceptance. It was as if God was encouraging me to nestle in, to be cradled by his love. There were no words, yet somehow I knew my healer was urging me to let loose the flood I'd dammed before. I released what I'd held onto for so long, and wept into his covering as Love held me. I was granted liberty from self-reproach and judgement, set free to pour out every hidden fear and embrace the grief I'd resisted before.

In the midst of life's tempests- and even because of them,  know this- God does not condemn your grief. Rather, the Healer urges you to embrace the grieving process, understanding that he offers complete and total acceptance in the midst of every moment as you release the churning within. God does not despise you for weeping, or anger, or questions. He welcomes you as you are- no matter what emotions spring forth.

The One who accepts you completely- all you are, and all you are not- our Refuge invites you to pour out everything, even what you fear to dish out. The one who created every emotion is mighty enough to withstand all of them. You cannot shock him, and you cannot shake the hound of heaven- not even with your own unworthiness. Whether you are running, or crumpled in the corner reeling from violence, or simply struggling through each and every moment of the day, know that there is One who is safe. No matter what man (or woman) has done to you. There is no secret too shameful, no shadow too dark, no place too broken for our Healer.

I know this truth. When I was face down in my bedroom carpet weeping until I was spent... and then somehow weeping again, Adonai allowed me to empty the pain. And in those moments I knew all encompassing love, unconditional acceptance and all consuming comfort.

Adonai- the very name is soothing to my soul. Speaking of relationship, of holding close as I cease resisting and let go of all that separates me from intimate comfort. Adonai is complete, so I don't have to be. In fact, when I enter his welcoming embrace, Adonai completes me

There is One who is light and love and peace, One who will hold you through every distress, every trauma, and every place of grieving; Adonai, who is the gift in your suffering. 


~Just Me

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

My 'Positive'

I wasn't going to blog today. I really wasn't. Does the world wide web really need one more post reminiscing about watching the same footage over, and over... and over? And then... there was this homework assignment from my youngest; to interview a family member about 9/11. He asked me to share my memories from 9/11- including not just the negatives, "but also the positives". And despite the sadness that lingers even tonight as I remember the images from that terrible day, it warmed my heart to be able to share with my now 11 year old son that he is my positive.

 As soon as the images began to flash across the TV screen, my husband knew he would be 'called up'. He was a chaplain in the National Guard, and we both knew it was only a matter of time... What we did not know was when, where, or how long. I felt ill watching the news coverage, praying for the many families in New York and Washington D.C. even as I fought back waves of nausea. But I had been feeling sick to my stomach for almost two weeks, and it was that day- and the fact of inevitable, impending deployment that motivated me to take a pregnancy test just a little bit too early... hoping I would know before sending my husband off to war.

So, 9/11 has a bittersweet connotation for me. The day when my family's life changed forever- not just because events were set in motion that led to much sacrifice, but also the day that led to the precious knowledge that I would be a mother again.

I still grapple with the knowledge that other families deal with loss on a grand scale because of that day. Part of my process of coming to terms with this is recorded in Stories of Faith and Courage From the Home Front  by Karen Whiting and Jocelyn Green (the October 24 reading), but let me say here that 9/11 is a reminder for me to pray for the children very close to my son's age who won't meet their fathers in this lifetime. It is a way I remember to pray for all of those who lost someone that day (some of whom have also shared stories in the above mentioned book).

So tonight, as I tuck in both of my boys, I will breathe another prayer for those who lost a loved one in the 9/11 attacks- for a special outpouring of comfort and support on this day. For these families to be met not only with media recognition, but the little acts of kindness, that in truth are not so little. I pray these families will be treated not just as another news story, but as individuals who still wake to moments of sadness, even on days that are not anniversaries of loss.

We will never forget... and may we offer up earnest prayers and candid kindness as we remember.

~Just Me









Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Manna

There comes a time of waiting, after I've passed through the place of doing. Appointments are made, meetings scheduled, points of contact lined up. Everything I can do, has been done, and now, it is time to wait, not on God, but in him.

Along this way there has been clear guidance. Little provisions, that in the scheme of things, are not so little. The counselor who to thought pull records so diagnoses and treatments could be accessed exactly when needed. The diagnostician who just 'happened' to walk into the office when I was filling out paperwork. The Occupational Therapist's office who called to let me know that insurance had (finally) approved a visit, records had been reviewed and they are ready to schedule an appointment (a couple months out). The call that came today, moving the appointment a week closer because the doctor had a conflict. (I'd call it a divine intervention.) Early on God told me that there would be a time of waiting- and to not be discouraged.

In fact, Joshua 1:9 has been before me for months now:
 This is my command, be strong and courageous. Never be afraid or discouraged because I am your God, the Eternal One, and I will remain with you wherever you go.

God has said clearly that he will meet every need, and that he gives direction when I have the heart to hear. Sometimes I am to move, and other times, to wait. Even though it feels a bit like wandering around in the desert, there is much to be learned in wilderness waiting.

Whether the wilderness place comes after a great rescue, or seemingly out of nowhere, steps can be ordered if a heart is willing to keep watch for the One who guides. While it's true that wilderness times can be  brought on by our own choices- or the decisions of those around us, it is also true that there is a time to  feel the weight of grieving, or of waiting.

Regardless of the season, I can be prepared, for the One who leads also sustains-with spiritual Manna. I am learning to not step forward until the timing is complete. For in His time, God removes every obstacle. Nothing can separate me from the will of God- except my own impatience.

So now, in this time when I am guided to stand firm, it's about waiting in the preparation place. Waiting can be passive, or active. Do I grumble and complain about how slowly the time is moving, or do I watch and pray, recognizing His provision with gratitude?

It is mine to choose where to focus. And as I move with him, in him, God gives enough for today; teaching me to not be greedy, to take time to listen to his whispers, which come as I am still before him. Time to enjoy the breeze on my face, time to recognize his caress in my heart and soul. I must Be Still to know the wind as His whispers. To be ever aware to his provision, to allow songs of gratitude to spring forth. It's time to remember the  many ways he has provided along the journey, and look for the ways He still provides manna today.

I lift my eyes up, at the landscape rolling out before me. And it is here, in the wilderness, that I remember: my help comes not from the hills, but from their maker.  

~Just Me