Learning to ‘walk’ again

This is written by an anonymous friend of mine who has walked through some difficult times while living in community.

 

Living in community is hard, especially when you have invisible illnesses that aren’t so widely recognised or even understood. It’s also hard when it takes you a few months to even realise that you are sick and need help.

Recovering from a heart breaking ordeal is hard enough. Let alone when a person feels crazy for still experiencing the pain daily. I thought I’d write about my experiences, just to stand with everyone who is going through similar things but unable to share about it. Also to raise awareness of traumatic events and the effect it has on daily life, which is present in every social group, including Christian communities.

What it’s like to have PTSD and depression while living full-time in a Christian community

-Countless times of being in a community meeting, when a trigger comes out of no where and I’m left uncontrollably sobbing, bordering on a panic attack, yet trying to stay discreet in order to not draw attention to myself

-Trying to hide staying awake for hours // crying myself to sleep, in order to not wake up roommates

-Seeing all the fun people are having outside, and via social media, yet knowing that I physically cannot bring myself to go socialise

-Walking around, and suddenly having a panic attack only to have me stumbling into the nearest room, in shock, and hoping no one will walk through

-Trusting less and less people in an environment which is built on trust and relationships

-Being so ashamed to admit that the pain is still as real as when the trauma first happened, and so feeling isolated though knowing deep down people would want to help

-Getting strange looks every time I randomly cry or withdraw, and henceforth increases the need to withdraw

-Yet also knowing (99%) of people have hearts of gold and would help if only they knew

-Rarely being alone and so when I am, alll the emotions come flooding out

-Missing meetings and being absent for a day because of therapy

-Being scared to sometimes even answer phone calls

-Not leaving the base alone for months because of anxiety

-The sudden dissociation that happens midway through laughing with friends, because of a flashback

-The guilty cynicism that plagues my mind daily

-Having 0 self-worth whilst trying to build up other’s confidence

-Constant quiet times, prayer times, worship times; only sometimes there is breakthrough

-Being ashamed when told I should go onto medication, but also feeling like I have no other choice

-Being called an introvert and shy when really your mind is battling life/death

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…. And then finally somewhat accepting that my life is changed, how I live may need to be different for a while; It’s like losing a limb and learning to walk again. Truthfully it sucks because trauma is unfair and the repercussions are unfair and so anger is real. It’s hard to be surrounded by the most joyful people, and try to strive for that same happiness though it’s totally not there. I guess joy is more than happiness though, it’s a deep knowing of God’s love. Through this I’ve learned when I’ll probably be triggered. I know what friends to include in my darkest days. I pray knowing that the grace of Christ covers my illnesses and all I’m called to do is trust and love.


What keeps me going:

Is the deep peace, and knowing I have in my heart

That the pain sucks and feels continuous

But God is with me in the pit

Though not everyone around me knows whats going on

God knows and He gently is healing me, slowly but surely

And as I am diagnosed, knowing that I have mental disorders I will battle, I have peace because in the midst of the darkness is the light of Jesus Christ; that there is nothing that I can or cannot do to separate me from his love. Nothing from heaven above or hell below, no illness or disease, nothing can separate from the love of God. Slowly but surely God’s grace allows me to tell people my story, and time after time I’m received with love. Each telling of my story gets easier. I learn to love in the midst of feeling utterly shit and worthless. Seeing someone else’s smile gives strength to keep going. Days are so unpredictable; slowly I am getting better but I’ve learned to not become too discouraged by bad days, as they are expected.

 

Love the people around you. Those who seem distant and withdrawn may be like that because there is a war going on in their minds. Don’t judge them and withdraw from them. Ask them in a safe place how they are. Don’t think that just because people are in a Christian mission organisation they don’t still carry sorrow. Do pray with them, help them, cry with them and process with them. Ask them what their triggers are so they can be sensitive around you. Don’t force them to open up details. Don’t tell them to fast more, or to have more faith. Sometimes illnesses will never be healed, but that doesn’t mean a person doesn’t have enough faith. Trauma’s may never completely leave the mind; That is no reflection of a person’s relationship with Christ. Come against depression, anxiety, illnesses with a heart to serve and love. A person doesn’t want to be going through the hell they are, and they already will feel like a burden to everyone else. Don’t contribute to the war zone in their mind. Be Jesus to them, be the love.

 

If you think you have a mental illness, or are not doing ok, don’t be ashamed. You’re not crazy. I implore you to please go to the Doctors and get help. Talk to a trusted friend or leader. Go see a therapist. Don’t make light of your mental health. Buying clothes and other things are all relative when compared to mental health; that is something that will be with you for the rest of your life. Take care of your mind first. Sometimes in order to love others you have to spend some time loving yourself first, in order to come to others from a healthy place. I can say that after 1.5 years of therapy and medication, I can see the light.

 

All of my love, I am standing with you.

Enjoying the Mundane

A friend gifted me a book called The Quotidian Mysteries by Kathleen Norris. Immediately, I sensed the book had something for me. While in England, I decided to practice one afternoon as my mother-in-love asked me to cut back a beautiful Buddleia bush.  I allowed my mind to wander. I engaged my senses. I explored the act of contemplation during a seemingly mundane chore. Here are my thoughts, photos and a few quotes from the book:

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The Buddleia scent sweet, bees dancing busily, breeze blowing warmly on my skin, children giggling playfully in the next yard. –my journal

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Dead cuttings beautiful in their repose. -my journal

“I admit that I generally lose sight of the fact that God is inviting me to play.” -Kathleen Norris

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Laundry sunning itself on the line, sunflowers towering, cabbage whites flitting about, cleverly avoiding the lens. -my journal

“I have come to believe that the true mystics of the quotidian are not those who contemplate holiness in isolation, reaching godlike illumination in serene silence, but those who manage to find God in a life filled with noise, the demands of other people and relentless daily duties that can consume the self. – Kathleen Norris

In the end, the question my heart and soul asked: “Do I enjoy my Creator?” The answer is the true contemplative act, whatever task it is. So I will pose the question to you, dear reader. Do you enjoy your Creator?

The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. -Westminster Shorter Catechism

Brave Soul

One of the bravest women I know is my mother-in-love, Joyce. When I think of the obstacles she has faced, I am in awe. Evacuated as a child during WWII to the countryside, Joyce struggled with a medical condition which no one understood at the time. It caused much pain and rejection in her young life. In her teens, she came to know the love of Jesus in a powerful way. The experience brought healing to her wounded heart.

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Nurse Hollins

Joyce wanted to be a nurse from early on because she desired to help sick people as she struggled with a difficult condition herself. No hospital would take her due to the medical condition but determined as she was, she kept searching. Joyce found a hospital to work in through a friend’s help. She worked steadily in a TB ward for twelve years until she met her husband, a doctor.

My in-laws were married for forty-seven years and truly loved each other. Their marriage produced two wonderful sons, one of which is my sweet husband. My mother-in-love endured losing her beloved husband a few years ago. Yet, she continues to be brave despite being on her own. Joyce continues to struggle with medical problems but never gives up. She clings to her faith tenaciously. In fact, one of her favorite hymns is Rock of Ages.

Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.  –Rev. A.M. Toplady

Brave, beautiful soul

Brave, beautiful soul

I admire her, plain and simple; Joyce is beloved by many who know her. When I think of the word brave, she immediately comes to mind. Her resiliency,  courage, and faith speak to me deeply about being brave despite hardship and pain.

I’m writing with my friend Staci on the same topic. Click here for her post .  Thank you.

 

Travelogue

Each month, I take part in a 10 on 10 blog roll.  Photographers tell a story with ten photos on the tenth of the month.  I planned on documenting our travels to England to post for my 10 on 10. However, we got caught in the Delta Debacle and arrived too late to post. Here is my travelogue and yes, I added a few more than ten since I missed my deadline:

Van Nuys Flyaway

Van Nuys Flyaway

On our way to the airport, we heard about Delta's troubles. Little did we know what would await us.

On our way to the airport, we heard about Delta’s troubles. Little did we know what would await us.

What awaited us happened to be a nine-hour long line to fix our tickets! We were so far back in this line that you can't even see us!

What awaited us happened to be a nine-hour long line (queue)  to fix our tickets. We were so far back in this line that we can’t even be seen!

The news channels were present documenting the debacle. Several couples were trying to go on honeymoon but were stranded.

The news channels were present documenting the debacle. Several couples were trying to go on honeymoon but were stranded.

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Running for a flight

After waiting all day, we caught a flight to Dublin with Aer Lingus. It's a great airline, by the way.

After waiting all day, we caught a flight to Dublin with Aer Lingus. It’s a great airline, by the way.

Coffee or Guinness? Our jet lag hit hard at Dublin airport.

Coffee or Guinness? Our jet lag hit hard at Dublin airport.

Traveling done right.

Traveling done right.

Well-traveled.

Well-traveled.

This amused me because they squished together, looking so big and manly.

This amused me because they squished together, looking so big and manly.

Our little hopper to Manchester. Cue motion sickness.

Our little hopper to Manchester. Cue motion sickness.

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Beautiful Ireland, like patchwork.

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We finally arrived at the Vicarage after traveling for thirty hours.

What I didn’t document was my freaking out at LAX because waiting is not my strong suit. Also, I was so tired by the time we got to Manchester airport, I plum forgot to snap any photos. In fact, I snapped the final photo the next day since we arrived in the evening.

We are so happy to be here, however.  If inspiration is desired, take a look at the blog roll by checking out Staci’s post and scroll through.

My Takeaways

Greetings from Lakeside, Montana! I am at a conference for the North American School of Biblical Studies in Youth With A Mission. The gathering happens every two years; when I arrive, it doesn’t take long for me to realize I am with my people, Bible-lovin’ nerds every single one. Since I want to blog on a weekly basis, I thought I would share some of my takeaways from the week thus far.

Let me begin by saying the Bible has transformed my life. Yes, it’s been a bit like steering the Titanic but the transformation has happened (and continues to happen!) I wanted to read and understand the Bible because I knew there was something in it I needed, namely to come face to face with the grace of God. Thankfully, I studied the Bible with the Inductive Bible Study method which is a very balanced approach to studying the Bible. Instead of hearing what other people think the Bible says, I engaged the text myself to see what the Bible is actually saying. Here’s an example: would you rather have a beautiful flower described to you or see it in detail yourself? This is the goal of the Inductive Bible Study Method.

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My passion for teaching people in the Church to engage the Bible themselves has been renewed. And not just engage the text but to live it out wholeheartedly.  My admiration for the gospel continues. What is the gospel? From Genesis to Revelation, it’s the story of God’s incredible desire to dwell with man, even when man chose to forsake God. Undaunted, God chose to enter our humanity in order to make a way (forgiveness) for man to dwell with God. The beauty of this gospel is that as believers, we are to embody this for the world.

I go home encouraged, committed and ready to lead people into the Bible for the rest of my life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anaheim Packing House

I recently spent some time at the Anaheim Packing House. I highly recommend visiting this amazing restaurant/indoor mall. It’s photogenic as heck, too. I give people-watching an 8.5 on the  Great-People-Watching scale.

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But first, masala.

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Hammer time.

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Dapster

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Mirror, Mirror

 

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Monkeying around

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The Hangout

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Good form

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Double header

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Selfie

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Another hipster coffee joint

 

Course Correction

As a Christian, it’s not surprising to me that my beliefs often go against the popular culture. This is hard for me because deep down, I really want everyone to like me but that’s another blog post. The church went against popular culture from its inception. Early Christians would not worship Caesar, thus they were punished for their beliefs. All through history, the church lived (most of the time) according to the teachings of Jesus. Except when the church became influenced by culture, and then it usually went really, really badly. Inquisition, anyone?

The calling of the church is to uphold truth, to be a blessing to the world, and to reflect Jesus well. The church also has a covenant to follow (Some in the church expect non-believers to follow this covenant but that is WRONG. We cannot expect the world to follow the covenant Christians follow. Our job is to follow the covenant ourselves; by the way, can we not be jerks about it?)

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Course Correction

I recently felt tempted to “go with the flow” of culture because frankly, it can be tiring to swim upstream. Curiously, I asked myself, “What is the big deal anyway?” You see, I worry about losing friends or being misunderstood for my beliefs.

I can point out many ways where I think the church is influenced by culture, and not the other way around. Was I blinded to it in my own heart? Apparently so.  To answer the question,  it is a big deal to “go with the flow” because it compromises my beliefs and allows culture to dictate, instead of Jesus.  I needed a course correction. I’m grateful to the Lord that He gently showed me how easily I can veer away from my core beliefs. I am to love the culture, but I am not to let it influence me. This is difficult but not impossible. It takes courage, humility and a huge dose of love. This is my prayer for myself and the body of Christ.

I’m blogging with a group of women all writing on the same topic (What is the Lord teaching me at the moment?) Click here to read Susan’s post.