I’ve been traumatized three times in my life. Really traumatized.
The first: my Dad was diagnosed with cancer and died 3 ½ weeks later.
The second: my first marriage ended.
The third: I got laid off from a lovely, wonderful position I was not “done” with.
The first two were, of course, not immediate. Even though the time from my dad’s diagnosis to his death was less than a month, I had sensed he would die when I was in my early thirties since I was a young girl. I can’t explain it. I just knew. It didn’t make the news that “he’s dying now” any easier. I scoured my Bible for every verse about healing. There were many, but one hit me like a ton of bricks. It was Psalm 139:16. “Your eyes saw my body even before it was formed. You planned how many days I would live. You wrote down the number of them in your book before I had lived through even one of them.”
That was it. Instead of praying my dad would be healed, I prayed he would LIVE EVERY DAY God wrote for him to live. My journey through the Kubler-Ross grief cycle came to an abrupt stop at acceptance.
A parent’s death is never easy, but I found such peace with that verse. I couldn’t argue with God over that one.
I fought with every fiber of my being against the ending of my first marriage. I was fighting for my kids. I was fighting for “the dream”. I was fighting for the institution itself. I claimed: the power of prayer, the blood of Jesus, every promise in the scriptures whether they applied or not. I had people come to my house and pray over our bed. Nothing changed. Finally one day I got an email from my counselor who just laid it out. “He has chosen to live a life which does not include you.” There it was in black and white. I could not argue. It was the end. The idea of acceptance was no longer an option. It was just the way it was.
I fought so long for my marriage, it was terrifying to think of stopping. It had consumed my energy for 15 years. I had no idea what I could replace the fighting with.
The last one was as immediate as it was shocking. I left for work one sunny September morning with a long list of “to-do’s”, and returned home less than 15 minutes later, spending the rest of the day throwing up. Acceptance around this one has been hard to come across. I’m not sure why but maybe it’s because I had no warning and couldn’t prepare myself. Maybe it’s because God has been very, very quiet since then.
I couldn’t see life in that situation. Only rejection.
Last week I got a Facebook message. It was from someone I had not expected to hear from. They were letting me know about an opportunity and wondered if I might like to be involved. My first thought was, “Shit” because the position is messy and controversial and there are no easy answers.
It is perfect for me.
What terrifies me the most about accepting horrible things that happen is the idea (maybe self-imposed) that if I’m not grieving or fighting it must mean I don’t care about them.
And nothing could be further from the truth.
Today I’m choosing to think it means there is life for me beyond death, beyond disappointment, beyond failure.
I did learn something.