I write for therapy. When I am stressed, angry, happy, melancholy or all of the above, my first desire is to write something down. I'm sitting here, eating a delicious salad and writing whatever comes to my pointed little head. Grammar perfectionists, you may want to medicate yourselves before continuing. When I am feeling this way, my mind and fingers aren't always in sync and I don't give a rip. Don't say I didn't give you fair warning.
I have a lot of stress going on in my life and most of it is not going on the internet. I can't quite understand why folks put their dirty laundry and drunken blunders on the internet. Probably because I am not drunk. Maybe it makes more sense then? Everything you do makes seems like a fabulous idea when you're drunk, right? I digress, back to what I am writing about.
So, here I am with lots of stress, most of which is none of your danged business. I am going to begin with the phone call I received just before going to pick up veggies from my CSA at their new location, a farmer's market in the downtown area of my rural Kentucky community. Mind you, I chose this new CSA because of the farmer's market. I was looking forward to finding out who the other upside down hippies were and what a hillbilly-upside-down-hippie looked like.
My youngest called and I could tell she was crying, scared and something horrible was happening. Her apartment was on fire. She lives in a four-plex and all four homes were burning. She was terrified. Her cat of 14 years was too frightened to come to her and was hiding in the house. The firefighters wouldn't let them look for the cat. My kids and I are first class, Grade-A, government inspected animal lovers. I welled up with tears. I knew my kidlet and her kidlet were OK and I knew for that to continue their animals had to be OK. I listened to her some 2400 miles away and felt helpless as she was having the worst day of her life. To make matters worse, the fire started some 30 minutes before help was called. Neighbors, with whom she'd had trouble before, were responsible for my sentimental sweetheart watching her life go up in smoke. Life is always unfair but does it have to also be that hard? To hate the people you live near is bad enough but to have them burn down your home because they are stupid? That's too much. We talked all we could and I hung up knowing the bad part had only just begun for her.
I've lost everything I own once. The disaster that took my memory anchors was a flood. After the disaster, you get to do the clean-up part. You try to salvage something and it's painful. You are adrift and disoriented. You realize you're chasing ghosts, but you have to try. How will you live knowing your great-grandfather's bookcase was in there and might have survived, but you didn't care to see? Each time you hope for some little piece of memory to be OK and it's not. It's a yo-yo ride from hell. I realize I am reliving every painful moment of loss while also feeling helpless about what my kid is going through. I also am painfully aware that the balance is changing. I am closer to the age where my kids are becoming my heroes and able to do anything. I haven't quite lost all of my superpowers, but I can't fix this for her either.
With all these emotions roiling I got into my car and went to pick up some organic lettuce, chard and sugar snap peas. I would be meeting the man who owns the farm I purchase from for the first time and I would see what the farmer's market contained. I parked and managed to hobble up to the market which is set up in front of the new courthouse. There were booths set up with an inside and outside circle around the interactive fountain in the middle. Interactive meaning kids are meant to play in it and there were children of various ages having the time of their lives. There were dogs on leashes with the kids and they were having the time of their lives. There were adults milling around. There were things to look at, touch and taste. I felt like I couldn't see or speak or appreciate anything. I most assuredly have PTSD. I can't deny it. I also can't want it.
What I haven't mentioned in this story is that the flood that took my memory anchors occurred while I was working in public safety. I was helping to rescue other people from the flood while my life was being made a shamble. A childhood from hell and a career in public safety have left me with about a thousand memories I would rather not have. My memories trigger anxiety when I least expect them too and yet always when it is decidedly inconvenient. As a biblical counselor, I know what I need to do. I need to apply truth to truth.
The truth is that really bad things have happened to me. Also true is my belief that God is absolutely sovereign in all things. Even really bad things. I walked through the market using my other memory anchors, memorized Scripture. Verses that assure me that all things work together for good. I remind myself that the two most oft given commands in Scripture are "fear not" and "remember". You don't have to be in a war to have PTSD, You don't have to have the most traumatic occurrences. I didn't have the worst childhood I know of, but it was the worst childhood I have ever had. As I felt the anxiety rise, I reached internally for my anchors; the Anchor of my soul. I begged Jesus to give me something else to focus on and just as I had completed the walk around the small circle, He did. I had reached the stand owned by my farm. It was time to introduce myself to the owner.
"I don't recognize you from last year!" he said, reaching his hand out to shake mine. "I'm Ford." Oh, perfect...or should I say prefect! For those of you who know me, you know that my mind immediately went to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Now I was hoping not to giggle or say something stupid. That's not when the magic happened though. The real magic happened the moment he took my hand and felt the calluses on Ford's hand. My prayer was answered in that quick moment and my mind immediately fixated on the comfort I took shaking this young man's hand. Good, honest, hardworking hands and a genuine smile to offer in appreciation of my purchasing his organic foods.
On my drive home, I didn't think about fires or floods or horrible experiences. I prayed for Ford. I hoped his kids and his wife appreciated the roughness of his hands and would always remember how hard Ford worked to get them. I prayed that his farm would thrive and that he and his family were believers. And just to prove I am not always good, I wondered if he had a towel handy.
Why this story? Because I started to stress out again about the fire and I made myself remember how God brought me back into His truth yesterday.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.