Have you ever experienced the following…
You’ve been serving with inspired passion and urgency from God. You’ve been cooperating with His Spirit and keeping yourself in the place where He is operating far more than you. And in any given moment, you find yourself in various states of intercession, on behalf of those you have allowed God to break your heart for, and on people and systems that need refined or overhauled to do much better to help. And in one of those moments, where you are waiting on movement from partnered support, and you hear of one more story of the suffering of a dear one, it puts you over the edge, feeling like you can’t even stay in your frame, like hours of intercession wouldn’t be enough to release this from your spirit. And then, something exceedingly unexpected happens…
You get blindsided.
You thought you were alert as you have handled so many things previously, and so well. But the source and nature of this collision was most unexpected. And worse yet, the fuel of the source of this blindside was misunderstanding of your very own passionate, love-filled efforts.
It can be such a dumbfounding, surreal experience, that you almost have to go around as a zombie for a while just to cope and manage, while you process what just took place. While I don’t have very good answers, I do know that it’s important to grieve through it, and at some point you must build an altar and truly begin to release it to God. He can bring healing within, even if there’s never direct reconcilliation accepted by the people involved.
This is very important to do, not only for sanity’s sake, but to keep yourself moving forward. You can also take time to learn from the situation, learn where you may have been wrong or been ineffective in your benevolence. Speak grace over the situation and people involved. Protect them with your words and hide them from conversations with people, except for one you might confide in for prayer and counsel. And at some point, resolve to yourself that these things will come time and again, and move forward from it.
Here is a candid excerpt from a recent conversation between a brother and sister that is good enough to just listen and relate to as they reveal to us their stories, discovering one another’s unexpectedly. We can be this close to someone and not know what they’re going through. We need to connect, share, listen, open up, and not give in to feelings of guilt that tell us we are crazy, wrong, and bad for remembering traumatic situations of the past…
Yes, I know those vulnerable places that catch us off guard when we’re just going along in our days and our lives when all of a sudden some uncomfortable or painful time in our past pops randomly in our heads. Is that what you’re speaking of? And it takes a very definite speaking of the truth we know in Christ to exert our control over our own thoughts and then to regain emotional and mental composure? Is that what you mean, too? That happens to you, too?? I haven’t gotten to share this with anyone because I didn’t know anyone who could relate. (My friend could, but she is too sensitive to her own desire for a husband and with how hard she is on herself and past mistakes, even things she couldn’t have known, I didn’t want to really go there with her.) I was not expecting marriage to be a trigger, but it was, especially last year. I struggled at times last summer because of that sort of thing- just being married and all the new experiences that come with marriage evidently were triggers to past memories and times when I was married. Joyce Meyer was helpful to me last summer, once again, in those basic, but very necessary understandings- like that Satan does not get to control what we think, but WE ourselves are the gatekeepers of our minds!!! BOY, I am not going to ever be a victim in my own head EVER, ever again!!! I used to not even know such thinking- both ways!
Yeah, the triggers can bring back specific or general overwhelming emotions of different types experienced in the past…whether bad, neutral or good things. It’s actually all classical PTSD, except mine is on a less dramatic level, at least I would say that categorically. Soldiers or survivors of trafficking have much more horrendous experiences, so their flashbacks are far more dramatic. For me, it was deep emotional hurt, rejection, active and passive (from ex-wife and an ex-girlfriend after her), and I didn’t have actual full fledged flashbacks. Mine were emotional only, with some specific memories occasionally but mostly just the emotion alone. And for me, it felt like there was no one I really ‘could’ share it with, except for God, and occasionally someone else. But the only ease or salve was with God, or if there were ever some special to talk to, which obviously I haven’t had. But God used the singlehood for me to get strength and healing from Him directly instead of using someone else with it. (He can and does do both, but often in my life, it’s been a solo act between Him and me. Maybe that’s one reason I have an extra sensitive heart to reach out to others, because I know how helpful and easing of the edge it can be.)
I never realized that’s what PTSD really was- it’s just clicked for me. I couldn’t fathom what it was, but I get a glimpse of it now. No, I don’t either have flashbacks per se, but definitely images and intense, heavy, overwhelming emotions. I am not carried away into another world- I know I am in the present and am able to respond. I didn’t feel like I had anyone to share this with either, even though it was intense and I would have liked to talk it through with someone, but I didn’t feel anyone would understand and I took on some shame from being reminded by these memories and feelings that I have a past that’s not very lovely to have as a new bride- especially married to a younger man who has never been married before. It all caught me off guard. I can now imagine a little better how more serious, horrendous experiences can overwhelm soldiers or survivors of trafficking to even the point of complete dysfunction- especially without Christ and a godly support system.
SISTER (Brother’s reply omitted)
Your complements are so sweet. I don’t think, however, I walked through everything with grace, to be sure. I am working toward that in Christ, though, as I move on and I do have you as an example. You really did walk through such painful times with grace and peace. I have told everyone I know about that- mostly because that’s one of the things I admire in you, as an example in Christ of how it can be done, and because it came in contrast with how much of my life in those times was full of anxiety and trepidation for my decisions. But I am now enriched with encouragement for other women in these types of circumstances and am hopeful for more opportunities to share with and love other women through difficult times- hopefully before separation or divorce. I am hopeful for helping my friend with her own stuff (abuse and neglect from her parents) and marriage with her husband (he’s the one from our Sunday group who was sold as a boy).