Sunday, February 13, 2011

"You Must Feel So ________________ "

Ever heard that phrase before?  "You must feel so excited!"  "You must feel so happy."  "You must just be on cloud nine."

We say that to each other when we try to put ourselves in their shoes.

I am growing more convinced of our need for some training in dealing with trauma.  I think we (ourselves, our mission agencies, our groups) think that when trauma happens, then we will deal with it and we will teach people how to recover.  The problem is that in a crisis, it is very hard to learn anything.  I think we need to talk about it more now - before we hit a crisis.

The problem is not that we do not share about crisis and about how God stepped in or how God carried us through them.  We do that.  I've read countless books about God stepping in, saving people from awful situations, carrying them through things none of us want to face.  I've read centuries of biographies and autobiographies of missionaries and their stories.  I've read Reader's Digest stories of people surviving cataclysmic events and horrific personal trauma.

I've pulled people out of car wrecks that no one should live through, visited someone in the hospital who not only survived his car going off a cliff and breaking into bits, but who hiked back up the cliff in the dark with a broken back in order to be able to flag down a passing car.  I was the first one to be handed a flashlight and examine what I thought was was a man in paint spattered clothes with saggy cheeks and rolls under his neck.  Instead it was a man covered in blood whose scalp was sliced in so many places across the top that it hung in folds around his neck.  I listened the next day in the hospital to him telling his story.

I had read about trauma.  I had felt prepared for it.

But I had never heard the rest of the story as Paul Harvey would say.

So when we went through a traumatic event and ended with our own miraculous ending, and people were incredibly happy and came to us and said, "You must feel so _______" (happy, excited, grateful, amazed, thrilled... ), I was not prepared for how I felt.  In reality it was more a choice of one of these: confused, depressed, sad, disoriented, hurt, tired, fearful.

So I felt guilty for my feelings.  For my lack of joy.  For the very pain that inhabited my heart where there should be joy.

If only I had heard the rest of the story before this!

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