‘Certainly Your faithful protection and loving provision will pursue me where I go, always, everywhere. I will always be with the Eternal, in Your house forever’ –Psalm 23:6.
I love Psalm 23–especially in The Voice translation. It’s poetic, gentle, comforting, vivid. As I experienced trauma at young ages, I would go to passages like Psalm 23 and find comfort that God is on my side. Somehow (over the years I’ve lost sight of when exactly this happened) I became responsible for God’s faithful protection. I will not insult soldiers struggling with PTSD and pretend that my version of PTSD compares to the atrocities that veterans have experienced and continue to have haunt them; but counselors tell me that traumatic abuse is traumatic abuse across the board–regardless of the circumstances that create it. When I describe the hyper-vigilance that I experience in life–my brain GPSes office buildings for escape routes, notices people in restaurants who look out-of-place and tracks their movements, and categorizes everyday items that can change to weapons at a moment’s notice–therapists say that is a trait of PTSD. All of this is done internally while I am joking, conversing, and seemingly carefree. This post may be the first time most (if not all) of my friends and family have heard this. Sorry. Love you all!!
But this post is not about abuse and PTSD. At least not directly.
This week, Acts 29, a church-planting ministry, removed Mark Driscoll and his Seattle-based Mars Hill Church from their registry. Why was this a big deal? Mark Driscoll co-founded the ministry and Mars Hill is a major supporter of Acts 29. I’m no fan of Mark Driscoll. Many have reported his character flaws and theology that … well … doesn’t exactly call to mind Jesus and how He treated people. You can read one of his former colleague’s concerns here.
But this post is not about Mark Driscoll and his abusive ways. At least not directly.
I write this post because tremendous healing has taken place in my soul over the past several years. I haven’t had flashbacks in many years, my homicidal sleep-walking events have significantly lessened, and I feel more relaxed and at peace than I remember ever feeling. Traditional counseling, non-traditional counseling, and spiritual direction have allowed me to see what God intended and what He never intended us to experience. It takes a village to heal a person’s brokenness.
So, in saying all of that, hearing that an organization has the courage to stand up to a powerful bully and abuser helped me breathe a little more deeply. We, the hyper-vigilant and self-designated protectors of all things unjust, don’t have to fight by ourselves. God really does have others to raise up–and they really are beginning to listen to His voice–to take some of the pressure off us. It doesn’t matter that my internal life has me believing that I’m really a super-hero–MaggieWoman–my reality knows that it’s all smoke and mirrors. When I hear stories of people taking a stand against injustices, especially when whole organizations change policies to right wrongs, something in me heals a little deeper. My hyper-vigilance relaxes just a little more, and I see less of the potential threats and enjoy more of the beauty around me. I never would have guessed how much freedom I’ve missed throughout my life. When we allow our hearts to heal and embrace freedom, it doesn’t mean we are less protected. In many ways, I feel more protected these days because the fear of trauma has diminished. Before, I had no control, but I had to try to control the safety around me. Now, I know I have no control, but I’m not afraid of not being strong enough … smart enough … careful enough … enough ….
Unhealed trauma teaches us to not take risks–to not allow others to take risks. We become our own bullies and abusers by shaming ourselves, or those we love, into our protection. All in the name of love. Protection born from shame is a prison. We need a village to surround us so we learn the key is our own humility. Humility brings safety and freedom. Humility releases us from the emotional blackmail of lies our wounded souls use to keep the pain inside and us away from others. Humility frees us to live our truest selves without fear of backlash–because the backlash we may experience comes from those trapped in prisons of their own making and it cannot overshadow the joy of releasing the God-designed life waiting for us … waiting for us to embrace … waiting for us to believe … waiting for us to recognize …
…Unfailingly waiting. Just outside the unlocked prison doors. Un-crouch from the corner shadows and look outside to the light. Your pardon is signed and freedom is yours for the taking. Many of us are beckoning for you to come out and play!
Please join me in praying for humility in our lives and in the lives of leaders. I pray for Mars Hill in Seattle–for the congregants that are trying to understand all that’s going on in their church, for Acts 29 that God will bless their decision to stand for integrity, and even for Mark Driscoll that he will allow God to humble and transform him. Statistics are not on his side; but God is on the side of his heart.