I knew it as soon as I asked, but I still recoiled from it anyway. This lie goes deep. It is not one I am unfamiliar with at all. What makes it so much harder to face this time is that it wasn't a complete lie. It came true. The fact that it came true was terrifying to me. As if you woke from a horrible nightmare of being killed and found a stranger in your room at night - the fear just intensifies. I actually recoiled from the force of it.
I had been through some very traumatic things in my childhood - abuse, constant moves, a divorce in our extended family that shook us, some other things that would take too much space to explain. We had hit some trauma too as adults - our daughter's death, health issues, marriage troubles, etc. I had had to face many of these things alone. I was never given much support in coping with most of it. I built strong walls around my heart because I knew that people didn't care. People hurt. If I kept people out, I didn't have to be hurt when they didn't care because I would not know.
But I grew and I began to take my walls down. It's been good. But there was that fear - what if I take my walls down and people hurt me? What if I let people in and they abandon me? What if when I am hurting, they walk away and I know they never cared in the first place?
The thing that was so difficult in this trauma was that some people did just that. Some people knew that I was hurting and did nothing. Some people abandoned me when I was crying. Some never even cared enough to see that I was crying. Some hurt me - almost vicious attacks. (I think those came out of their own insecurities and pain - but that doesn't negate the effect it had on me.) Some people acted just like I feared. It was like waking from a nightmare to the horror of it being a reality.
That was hard to face. To look those facts in the eye and say, "yes, it did happen". To not run screaming from those facts wanting to hit out at anything or bury my head in the sand and try to numb the fear. To face them and say, "yes, it did happen." There was some truth to those lies. And it hurt.
I just sat silent with that thought in front of God waiting. I knew He wasn't done talking to me. It was as if He was saying, "pick it up, handle it, turn it around and look at it from different angles, see it". It did happen. Face it head on. I've learned that the best way to deal with pain is to deal with it. To let it be. Not to run, not to flinch, not to duck, but to handle it, to experience it, to let it be. Eventually, either you grow stronger or it subsides. So God and I looked at the pain together - the awfulness of my nightmares coming true. It hurt. Then we set it down, and I was silent, waiting some more.
Then God asked, "Where was I?" The quietest little peace began to bubble up inside me. "You were there." He was. Those closest to me who should have responded either didn't or even attacked when I had a clear, visible need. That deeply hurt. It cut deep down to my original wounds and questions, "Am I valuable? Does anyone really care? If people really knew me, would they reject me? Would anyone really want me if I was needy and had no use to them, only raw needs?" Sadly, that ended up being answered in a negative way in many key relationships. That fact has permanently altered some relationships. There is real pain in that.
But..... (I've learned that God always has a 'but' waiting.)
Where comes the redemption is this: God did not fail. He didn't, and He has been gentle, consistent, and persistent about proving that to me over this last year and a half. There is a sadness about those who failed - I think God Himself is sad over those actions, but they do not define God. He's quietly insisted, "That was not Me. That was not Me." And just as quietly, He's shown Himself through others. What I've learned is to watch for God where I least expect Him - like in the parable of the Good Samaritan - God has His hands and feet and arms. He will be there - when we hurt, when others fail, when we are left all alone in pain. He's still there.
He'll be there in the scruffy musician next door that knocks at midnight with a hug. He'll be there in the young mom who dropped everything to bring me food at nine pm on a day when no one had come. He'll be there in the strength of a young army widow who phoned late that evening when I was curled in a fetal position alone on my kitchen floor - able to speak out of her own pain to comfort me and get me to stop heaving with nausea and laugh until tears came. He'll be there in the arms of a teacher to let me lean against him and to hold my oldest son when he needed a man's arms. He'll be there in the tears in the eyes of a flight attendant and their concern for me on a long flight when my strength was wearing out. He'll be there a year later in the young mom who heard my heart in what we went through. He'll be there in the series of coincidental meetings He arranges. He'll be there is the arms of a man who knows what it is like to walk through trauma, and the ears of a woman who could hear the details and speak wisdom with gentleness.
So I looked up with that small peace bubbling up in my heart and smiled. "You were there."
I was thinking this morning as I wrote this all down about this post I had written earlier this summer. That the root of lack of trust is a fear of vulnerability. It went on to explain that actually the cure for the fear of vulnerability is actually vulnerability. (It sounds strange, but it isn't. The cure for fear of heights is to experience heights.... although I have NO desire to be cured from my fear of spiders!)
It said that we think we have to wait until something is proved trustworthy before we trust. That we have to know we won't be hurt in order to trust. The truth is that we can choose trust and risk being vulnerable because we learn something about being hurt - it is survivable. We fear hurt because we think it will destroy us, so we shrink from it. What we learn from going through hurt is that we can survive being hurt. When we've learned that, we realize that we are able to be vulnerable because we are strong enough to risk and deal with some hurt. We are strong enough to survive when people hurt us, so we can afford to risk.
Trust. Just like everything else we learn by doing it. We don't learn running by watching running. We don't learn trust by watching trust. We learn running by running, and yes, it hurts at times.
The quiet peace is growing in my heart. Peace at the realization that even when people fail, God does not. I learned two things going through this: One, that God will not fail even when some of His people do and Two, that I can survive even when people fail, primarily because of the first thing - God will not fail.
I have walked through the fear and come out alive and stronger on the other side. It is a lie - even if it had some truth mixed in it like the original lie did. It is a lie and I do not need to believe it. I will not be left alone in hurt even if some people do chose to walk on by. God has not and He always shows up - just sometimes in the arms of a stranger.