I have fallen down. I am arising once again. This seems like a simple summary for the most painful and damaging portions of a life but sometimes the simplest things are the most helpful. Sometimes it is the simplicity of the summary that allows us to make use of the facts and to lay them out and look at both the causes and effects.
I don’t know about you but it seems to me that things don’t usually work out the way that you’ve always thought that they would or hoped that they would. Life just seems to be way too twisty and convoluted for that particular brand of simplicity. I had always foreseen my life heading in a certain direction. Ministry, family, church plants, etc. I badly wanted to write about doctrine and the church and even the odd novel.
What I received on the path to that future is where the shock came along.
I guess I tried to blow everything off that occurred along the way. Traumas that either I had experienced or that I saw others experience were stuffed away and not mentioned and certainly never felt. Feelings of any kind were frowned upon and any admitting to hurt or damage was paramount to wearing a skirt. So things were stuffed and not touched emotionally, for years and years.
Finally, events came along that triggered emotions that I could not brush aside and I had no coping mechanism. I did not realize that I had CPTSD and that it had severely limited my ability to rationalize emotional pain or distress.
Not only that, once it was triggered, I could not effectively deal with life. I had no confidence in myself any longer, I had no overarching plans or desires. I hid inside my head and drank to make the emotional overload and panic attacks subside. It isn’t a pleasant existence to put it mildly. You get stuck and you fight or flee – wash, rinse, repeat. Along the way you lash out to protect yourself from any further hurt. It is ugly, it is scary and it is a reality that many of us have struggled with.
The surprise was that I did not think that any of the events had actually affected me. I really believed in my own toughness, soldiering on despite the cost and the wounds. What I did not and could not perceive was that my mind was defending itself from my life, quite outside of my control.
Now I am looking to put the pieces back together, pieces that seem for all the world like they can’t be mended. Some part of me seems gone now, like I am trapped in this shell and stuck without hope. I know that cannot be true, God’s gifts and callings are without repentance and He said that He would never leave us or forsake us.
Sometimes it feels for all the world like He does though.
Perhaps it’s that lost confidence that I am missing, perhaps that confidence carried me and I mistakenly believed it to be faith. I certainly relied on it, I relied on intellect as well. I may be able to argue that it’s faith itself that has dissipated, that seems likely knowing the level of flesh I’ve been involved in.
Or perhaps outside of the Gift of Faith, faith just takes a good while to build back up again, I’m not sure. All that I know is that I feel adrift and unsure of my steps many times. I don’t care much for this feeling either.
There are open doors, I see them at the end of my vision. It’s the surety of the steps needed to get there that I miss. I miss people not knowing that I’ve had issues though I’ve fought to be transparent. People aren’t as nice as you’d think. No matter how you try to look at someone that seeming weakness just naturally takes them down a few inches in your sight.
I have value and worth and I am flawed and human, as much as I’ve tried not to be. The only perfect one is Jesus and I’m certainly not Him. I am trying to get back up and be of use to the Kingdom once again. It’s not as easy as it sounds, sometimes it’s downright difficult finding the fight in you again.
That fight, that drive, that push, that resolve. That’s what I’m desperate to find again.
One thing that I have clearly seen during my fall and rise is the Church’s utter inability to deal with these types of things effectively at all. When you sense the danger coming and cry out for help you mostly find lip service. It’s the “Sure, we will pray for you (but really mean think about you for a moment)” type thing. I had two suicide attempts in the last 9 months and for a majority of that time I was completely lost in a spiral of destructive behavior. I literally could not pull myself out of it, no matter my resolve. Sadly, when I did reach out to people and church leaders I received awkwardness, rejection, judgment and hostility.
We have to change this culture immediately. We simply must begin to focus not on the WHAT but rather the WHY. This is the only way that grace can begin to work; for every one of our mistakes, failures and flaws there is a story. This isn’t an excuse to cover up sin, it’s simply the only path that can carry us to healing. To sit back and whitewash things with a grace brush does nothing- real grace looks for a WHY and then from that point starts to heal the cause and it’s subsequent fallout.
I’ve made many genuine mistakes since my CPTSD was triggered, believe me. Yet for years, no one bothered to ask WHY, I honestly didn’t know to ask that question myself. Instead, they (and I) chalked it up to character flaws and walked away.
I am so thankful that God doesn’t treat us that way. He never gives up and says He can’t take any more of you and your issues aren’t His problem, that it’s okay that He needs to watch out for Himself and focus on Him for awhile.
I was caught up in a tornado of trauma stretching back across my entire life; all of the buried emotional responses completely overwhelming me and causing me to hide and medicate.
Yet it was not my will to be that way.
Let me say that again for you – it was NOT my will to be that way.
One thought, one memory causes an instant panic attack. As soon as that starts to not hurt, another emotional pinball gets dropped and then another and another and another until you shut down.
Perhaps if we began to seriously pray for our fallen or potentially falling brothers and sisters, perhaps if we began to ask God to reveal the WHY – perhaps He would and much damage could be avoided.
Perhaps if we began to consider mental illness as real and not just see a devil under every bed, perhaps the real tool of the enemy would be uncovered.
Perhaps if we quit walking away and decided with resolve to stick with people like glue until victory was won; perhaps then we would stop burying our wounded.
The Visible Church is many times simply an elitist social club filled with the most moral members of a Satanic world system. I found no help there- I found further alienation and a deeper anger. Some “pastors” said and did things with me that I am still attempting to forgive by faith and I will continue to do so until it manifests.
Friends, this simply cannot be said of us any longer, we cannot be seen as a culture of hypocritical and unhelpful judgments towards those that need us the most.
Yet during this time I also found a deeper compassion and love for the outcast misfit that has fallen down and can’t right themselves. The lonely lurkers that know what they have done wrong and wear the badges of shame internally. Many people suffer the sin of being not-normal and having not-normal reactions and these people are just as deserving of grace and love and truth as the seemingly moral normal folks that have little baggage.
My point is this; love everyone fanatically, pray for the WHY instead of judging by the WHAT and use that as the springboard that may allow God to use you to heal and not hurt. Because I guarantee you that most of those people that you judge feel the weight of their failings and it is not their will to be that way, friend.