I haven’t been writing much lately. Life happened. I’d wanted to fall into summer’s sandy shores and slowed time with abandon. But mostly I got anxiety and tumult. I’m not a busyness lover, I’m a stillness lover. I always know I’m not doing well when the ink from my pen dries up. I hit a deep soul weariness that cratered larger than physical exhaustion. It wanted to swallow me whole. Last week, I hit a wall. A sense of being so done. Ever have one of those weeks where Murphy’s Law is excruciatingly apparent? Everything that can go wrong, does, all at the same time?
For years I have been fascinated by trauma and PTSD. Having experienced much of this myself, I’ve studied to help those in war torn regions and missionaries heal from their pain. What I’ve learned is trauma and PTSD can often be a silent killer among missionaries and aid workers. I teamed up with my strong and vibrant friend Jessika Tate, a fellow missionary, whose story of battling PTSD inspired me. There’s a fierceness and compassion in her eyes as she holds her coffee cup and shares her story at my kitchen table in Redding, California. You would never know she’s been through
This year is six years, six years since we lost our first baby, six years since the toilet clotted blood. Last week was National Infertility Awareness Week and it pulls me back to the memories like my eyes to the scene of a car crash. I can see myself on the floor. Praying. Begging. Being willing to do anything not to lose him. What kinds of bargains we try and make with God in those moments. I don’t know if it was a him, but I imagine it so. So many times I blamed myself. Shouldn’t have been working so hard.
“Often the real trauma is feeling mistreated, bullied, or discriminated against by our own fellow humanitarians, those who should be there to share the same values and ideals.” –Alessandra Pigni- In general, conflict in relationships is one of the most difficult things to manage. This is especially true when serving overseas. Team conflict with other missionaries and missions’ agencies can be especially devastating. In my life coaching work, I hear stories all the time of heartache, frustration, and hopelessness surrounding these relationships. In fact, a 1997 study by the World Evangelical Alliance found that conflict with peers was the TOP preventable reason North American
It was 2006 and I was sitting in a dimly lit room in Rwanda listening to a female genocide survivor tell me her story of rape and torture. Most of the time her face remained distant, as though she was recounting something that happened to someone else. A fly buzzed around the office table. I could feel my legs perspiring against the wooden chair, the room stifling with heat. A fan whirred in the corner, but I could barely feel it. At one point this woman broke down, she pressed a dingy white handkerchief against her eyes, as though to hide
I still remember crying on my way home as I drove my gray Toyota Hilux truck through the red dirt streets of Gulu, Uganda dodging cows, and children, and potholes. I sobbed my way through the whole story on the truck bed of our grassy compound while my husband listened. The sunflowers wilting in the late afternoon heat mirroring my heart. I had a volunteer who I’d deeply loved and spent time training who wanted to leave and start her own identical economic project, bringing some of our women with her. I felt it had come out of the blue and it was
I’ve always been an overly responsible person. As a child, I used to help take care of my sisters, I had a steady babysitting job at the age of 11, and had donned a purple Burger King hat by the time I was 15. I was the good girl, the responsible girl and that’s where I received my praise and value. I’m not sure if any of my early jobs were completely legal, but work ethic and the idea that you need to be a responsible person who is beholden to other people is something that was bred in me.
“Why are we afraid of broken things? What if the abundance of communion is only found there in the brokenness of suffering–because suffering is where God lives? Suffering is where God gives the most healing intimacy.” -Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way- Sunset in Cape Town is like a world set on fire. The pinks and red hues dipped into the Atlantic Ocean in furious delight. The waves crashed loud and the marshy, sea salt spray filled my nostrils. Behind me, a rock called Lion’s Head because of the shape of it, and the way it drapes its mountainous body around
Trauma and loss happen to us all. Suffering is a part of life. But sometimes things occur and we don’t know or recognize it as trauma, or as something to be grieved. So we go on living, and eventually these traumas pile high inside us like dirty laundry and the burden begins to take its toll. The scary part about grief/trauma is that eventually it can escalate into cumulative grief which is built up grief after multiple losses which occur on a regular basis or within a short period of time. Think of a physical injury like a broken bone which is re-injured, making the pain more
Recently, I went back home to visit my family in Virginia. There’s nothing quite like your family to bring out all your crazy. They know I love them to pieces, but for some reason when I’m around them I go into “fixing mode” nitpicking and criticizing about different behaviors and commenting on things that could be changed. (I’m sorry family!) Family is a pressure cooker that brings all your impurities to the surface. Maybe I’m trying to make up for months of not having as much influence in their lives because I don’t live close. Maybe I’m still working out this
Writer. Missionary Coach. Recovering perfectionist. I want you to know that you are loved and already good enough. I am about helping people move from brokenness into wholeness. Together, we'll make a more beautiful world.
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