Monday, November 9, 2020:
I woke up and could not breathe. Finally, the events of the last 11 months paralyzed me, I couldn’t swallow, my smart watch was pinging me with warnings, but the chest pain did that first. Lack of oxygen was making me dizzy. I laid there for what felt like forever before I was able to inhale deeply enough to fill my lungs with life giving air.
The time had come, all of it hit me, activated all the things, fear, despair, helplessness, and even some hopelessness. I simply reached critical mass with the bad, and like Jeremiah (we think) wrote, I felt extremely walled in on every side. My hope in the goodness of people was evaporating right in front of my eyes, but one thing was clear, I was afraid.
I walked to my refrigerator and emptied the last remaining drips of cream in my coffee. “I need to get some food in this house”, I thought. But then immediately “no, cash is king, it is not time for you to order food, eat some beans from the pantry.”
And this was the moment that I knew I had to get behind the microphone and capture what PTSD activation actually looks like. Even though that thought is about as illogical as it can be in my personal situation, it RULED me, and as of the writing of this blog, four days later, I just placed an order for food.
I try not to ignore that still small voice when I sense it, and I knew that even if it were for ONE person, I needed to capture this “walk back” to Truth, as I call it, in real time. The “walk back” is literally me processing fear as I have learned in counseling, and focusing on the Star of my story, Jesus. The “walk back” also includes community, and I reached out to them too.
There is so much power in these words: “I am not okay”. And I wasn’t okay, and so I got behind that mic and this is a written version of what was recorded.
Jesus is truly the star of all of our stories, and I will spend my last breath telling the world so.
Monday, November 9, 2020
Published on Wednesdays With Watson, PTSD, Jesus and Me.
I am solo on the mic today after not being able to shake the desire and a prompting to share a message with you. Many of you may be in the same boat I am in, overwhelmed by information, exhausted by processing it, and fearful of the consequences of all of it.
This is essentially a PTSD patient processing fear in real time. It may be just for me, but my guess is there are many of you out there who are navigating your own waters of confusion and concern. Because 2020 has provided plenty of opportunities for fear to murky the waters of our faith.
Shallow water is murky, it is the deep waters that provide clarity, and so I swim out to the deep, clear water. I am terrified of the depths of the unknown. I swim out because fear is stealing my peace, killing my desire to matter in this world, and destroying my body. Just as the Bible describes the author of all confusion will do, he comes to kill and destroy. But I know that the Star of this story is NOT the author of confusion, and so I swim.
If you are like me, walking through this season may feel a little bit like trying to keep your head above water in a rip current. The water threatens to steal the air from my lungs if I attempt to take a deep breath. Treading water is becoming harder because of this paralytic that we call fear. The water is cold, very much like the world feels right now. Waves are crashing into the earth with an anger I understand. Even though God has proved Himself faithful over and over, I am terrified, and in so many ways, it is difficult to pinpoint why.
I know that before I can process this fear, that other things are standing in line first, they are all friends of fear, they destroy in tandem, anger requires my attention first.
I know that this anger is turned inward as I can’t think of a single person that is the reason for my ire. This anger is mixed with its buddy guilt. How can I be so fearful? After all, I have published 16 episodes on PTSD and talk about the Star of the story, His redemption, His goodness, His love and the miracle that is me. How much more does God have to actually DO before I trust Him even in these times, the times when everything is out of my range and out of my control, but stands to heavily affect how I live my life?
“Is my faith too weak or my God too small?”, I ask my myself.
I know my God is not small.
The battle rages, and confusion fills the empty spaces because I truly don’t understand after all that God has done for me in my life how I can still be so afraid. I am so angry at myself.
So, I am trying to keep my head above water, murky or clean, I know I can’t breathe buried under anger and fear. So, I decide how to not drown. It may just be my head, but it is above water as I tread and work hard to be ok. And I am ok.
THEN JESUS. I know there is this tiny green sprout of Hope in my heart, and it looks a lot like faith in the sovereignty of God, and then I remember the promises of Psalm 139, and peace begins to sweep over me. I can’t go anywhere that He is not with me, His creation, fearfully and wonderfully made.
This passage serves as a life preserver for me, and then I know I can stop trying so hard. I grab on to these promises and experience rest, because my sovereign God is in control.
However, I am discouraged that I still have to “walk back” these fears. Somehow I blame myself, but the reality is God has decided to leave these fears and these experiences in the manuscript of my life, and in some ways that is an honor.
Suddenly those spaces filled with doubt, anger and paralytic fear begin to be filled with a stronger presence of the Star of the story. The promises of Matthew 7 serve as another life preserver, “Do not worry about tomorrow because tomorrow has enough troubles of its own”.
I stop treading water and hold on to my tandem life preserver of these two scriptures given to us by the Star of the story.
Because my faith is fine, my God is bigger than I can ever imagine. I can feel fear and thank Him for it, because it is often a gift, pushing me into a sweet commune at the foot of the cross. The air is good there, it fills my lungs without me even knowing.
And so, “I choose to take this walk by faith, I will walk on”.
No shame in fear, just beauty in the relationship with the Star of my story.