Wednesday, January 14, 2015
In November I started seeing a counselor. Chad has been going through disaster relief training and chaplaincy training so that he will be able to serve as a chaplain with the Baptist disaster relief team. The last level of training he received was with the Oklahoma City Police Department where they dealt with the issue of counseling trauma victims. On the last day of training Chad came home and stood quietly in the kitchen which was a little unusual. Most of the time he comes home from these things brimming with information that he is eager to share, and it’s all very interesting to me. This time he just stood with a pensive look. I could tell he had something to say but he wasn’t quite sure how to say it.
“How did it go?” I asked trying to draw out of him what he learned. “It was all very interesting.” He said. “Today we heard testimony from first responders who had experienced trauma in the field.”
I turned around from the kitchen sink to listen and saw that Chad had started to tear up. Then the words just kind of fell out of his mouth, “I’m sorry Anna.” “I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you when you were trying to tell me you were hurting.”
The truth is I had run out of ways to communicate how hollow and scared I felt sometimes. Not just with Chad, but in every way. The bad experiences I had growing up in church life, the struggle of watching my dad fight to survive a fatal illness from the time I was 14, watching my father die, hurting for my mother, grief and epic loss. All of these life hurts had left me to join the walking wounded. The way I have been able to function to this point is to see the value my life still has in serving others. No matter how bad I was feeling I could go deliver lunches and listen to the struggles our church members were having and realize how much I truly have despite the heartaches.
Still, I have seen so often in the ministry people burn out or become easy prey for Satan when they are serving from and exhausted place. I had come to that place as a wife, as a mother and as a missionary.
Thankfully I serve a God who is faithful and I have a husband who cares enough to help me find help. There is a counselor in Stillwater who specializes in trauma and grief counseling. She and the other counselors in her fellowship work with law enforcement to help them deal with the stresses of their demanding job, so she understands the struggles we face in our mission field very well.
I was so nervous about talking to her. All the way out to Stillwater I began questioning whether or not I really needed to go, but as soon as I sat down and began pouring out my heart I knew. This was where the healing begins.
I also struggled with whether or not to share this story on my blog. This is a very private journey that I’m on, but there have been so many nights when I’ve needed to read a word from someone who would understand. I wondered if anyone else was feeling the weight of the shadow. I needed to know that there was hope; and there is! If one person reads this and reaches out for help, then it can change the identity of my pain from “damage” to purpose.
I’m thankful for Chad's love and God's healing hand on my life. I pray that He will continue to use me as I grow in Him.
“But You, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the One who lifts up my head.”