While getting ready for work last Wednesday, I came across a small note in one of my shoe boxes. I knew why the note was there, buried under a pair of shoes I rarely wear, and I remember the night I shoved it there, out of my sight. It was note from my daughter, written during a dark time in her life.
I knew healing, growth, and restoration bridged the two years between then and now, and I knew the daughter sleeping down the hall was safe, and her thoughts were safe, by God’s grace. And in my present reality, her joy and peace are visible and real, but reading the thoughts of her dark season again made the depths of me tremble. My body and mind knew the truth of ‘now’, but they also remembered the truth of ‘then’.
I stayed on the floor of my closet, rolling my neck and shoulders, breathing. I’ve studied trauma and secondary trauma, compassion fatigue, professional resiliency, and trauma healing. The remedy for triggers and stress, trauma and panic is simple – release the tension. In the complexity of crisis, when vigilance was necessary, ‘release the tension’ was a hard pill to swallow. With practice, I’ve come to appreciate the simple solution. Release has become a reflex, a medicine with quick results.
But in my calm body, I wondered why I hadn’t ripped that note to pieces and thrown it away, sent it off to a landfill far from my home so I wouldn’t have to remember. And I wondered why I was closing the shoe box with the note still in it, preserving it for another discovery.
I didn’t want to remember; but I didn’t want to forget.
Yes, I remembered the frantic months of recovery and finding help, but I couldn’t forget how God had led me to good people and proper care. Yes, I remembered praying exhausting prayers for healing and hope, but I couldn’t forget the peace that had guarded my mind and filled our home. I couldn’t forget how that peace had completely overwhelmed my understanding.
I remembered conversations no mama wants to have, but I couldn’t forget the relief of lies and shame and destructive beliefs being dug up by the roots during those conversations. I couldn’t forget how truth and grace had settled like seeds on the fresh, messy furrows of my daughter’s heart and mind. I couldn’t forget the moments and days and conversations to come when I saw evidence of those seeds flourishing, when I heard truth and health in my daughter’s tone. She could articulate what was once confusion. She could locate the truth in the noise, and she knew how to hold it – she believed it.
In remembering, I trembled in fear. In reconciling the experience with my present situation, I trembled in gratitude. We’d made it to the other side, and I couldn’t forget the wonder of a God who loved us, saw us, and carried us through.
In Psalms, slaves on their exodus come to the Red Sea. They see an impassable barrier of water; God sees a dry path underneath the sea. In the poetic retelling, the Red Sea trembles at the sight of God, and in the shaking, a path is revealed, a path no one knew was there. God had created a way through, long before it was needed – and in the trembling the path to freedom is brought to light.
Man, I’ve trembled. I don’t love it, but I’ve learned not to run from it. Because in the shake up, the truth is revealed – about God, about me, about what He’s created deep within me. He’s always provided a way through, He’s always led me across impossible waters, safe and dry – and forever changed. I may remember the fear, but I won’t forget His faithfulness. I may remember my weakness, but I won’t forget the wonder of His power. I may remember the darkness, but I sure as heck haven’t forgotten the breaking of light. Freedom was on the other side of what seemed an impossible journey, but I had to walk through it to get there.
Later that day, I help a woman in the throes of crisis and trauma. She’s wondering if she has what it takes to walk the long road ahead, and I remember wondering the same thing many times before. I remember to encourage her one step further.
And as always, if you know someone who needs One More Truth, please share.