This week while scrolling through social media I read a meme (below) that described my week or parts of my whole existence.
The meme, along with the raw words written by a friend, pierced me. Her vulnerability at that moment ministered to me. It went to a place in my soul that needed a bandage. It helped me cry. I believe there is rainwater from heaven in every droplet of our tears. Feelings are meant to be felt.
When I started this blog last week, I had no idea that I would add a portion exposing my vulnerability, but here I am.
I am a person that’s dealt with trauma in my lifetime. None of us are getting out alive.
When my husband and I go for short walks at night, he knows that if a dog barks, I will jump two feet. A loud horn blares. I squeeze his hand until my nails leave indentions. Earlier in the day, he walks behind me unannounced in the bathroom, and I scream bloody murder, my arms flaring and my heart pounding. Later, he wants to look at a property for sale in the country, secluded– and my first thought is a book written by Truman Capote called “In Cold Blood.” It would be funny if it weren’t true. Perhaps this is what helps me write fiction? I’ve lived a thousand lives under the sun. He briefly touches on the topic of my fears, and I blurt out,
“I am fearful of everything and nothing!”
“I’m scared of people hurting me, dogs, going for walks, evil men, living in the middle of nowhere—living in the city. I’m petrified of hospitals, doctors, and the whole time we lived with my father I never once went on a walk with you for fear of a dog, a bobcat, a snake, or some ferocious animal attacking me.”
He’s listening, and I wonder what he is thinking, but I continue talking this through.
“At the age of 9 or 10, my brother had a paper route. If he missed a couple of houses, my father would toss me in the back of the truck. He would pull in the drive, and I’d place the paper on the porch and hop back in the bed. One particular house stands out. Before I could reach the porch, a large German shepherd lept over the fence and landed on top of me, gnashing his teeth. Luckily my dad got it off of me. I went on to babysit for our neighbor at 13, who had the most massive, loudest, German shepherd on the block. The fear started after a dream of hungry wolves surrounding me. I was 30, and they were there.
“I’m scared of everything and nothing, I say again.”
“I’m not scared of sickness, death, demons, or losing all my material possessions and becoming homeless.”
He looks confused.
“Honey, “Do you know how crazy that sounded? Do you even understand what you just said? You just named things most people in the world are scared to death of. Even death.”
“Maybe it’s because I have faced those things, I think to myself?”
Some of us have a point on a map, a calendar, a datebook locked in our brain, and we can tell you the exact moment of the car wreck, the diagnosis, or our child that died before it ever learned to talk or even before it exited the womb. There is a moment in time where we look back at the shattered glass, the addiction, the iron bars, the chemo, the foreclosure, the divorce papers, the bruises, the rape, the welfare department, the mental break down, or the charade of pretending to be put together when we were one button shy of EXPLODING!
Yes, we all have our moments, and some of us have another type of trauma. In World War II, with gunfire and bullets whipping around his head, my uncle, wading in freezing waters, stopped and threw his hands in the air and cried, “The war is over!” Of course, it wasn’t. He just had wishful thinking. He had seen too many bodies stacked in piles– stripped of all dignity— He had seen and smelled enough death.
But, some of us don’t have one memory or one vivid scar—it’s not one childhood adventure filled with nightmares, but more of a series of unfortunate events—sometimes it is an everyday battle just to get through.
Sometimes we wonder how we can take another step—breathe– trust again–go back out into the world and try and be a candle burning for someone else. We, too, cry and throw our arms to heaven, exclaiming, “The war is over!” I’m exhausted, Abba. Take the pain, sorrow, shame, guilt, confusion, debt, unbelief, sickness, and trauma and take my weapons of fear. Take the bars I have built to protect me. Take the suffering.
Job took broken pottery, and he scraped his sores. He came to a place where he was okay with death. As a matter of fact, he welcomed death. He said the thing he feared the most had come upon him, but what was that thing?
He starts at the beginning of chapter three, cursing the day of his birth. He wishes that he had never been born because his pain is so deep. He explains how those in the grave are at rest. Job 3:16-17.
One morning, in the midst of some of the worst pain I have ever felt, I awoke to this pain in terror that I was going to have to get through another day of suffering. I prayed to die. I quoted Job verbatim. Then I heard an echo, “Do you not value the life I’ve given you? Do you not hope for better days?”
Job goes on to explain his fear.
“Why is light given to those in misery, and life to the bitter of soul, to those who long for death that does not come,” (Job 3:20-21).
And that is what he feared. A death that does not come. He feared he wasn’t going to get to escape such misery. He had lost children, cattle, oxen, servants, and he was suffering so severely. He wasn’t a man steeped in fear. He was a righteous man who wanted to go rest. I remember relating to such words. “Just take me Abba! I’m finished here. What good am I to anyone laying here suffering? I have nothing left here to do!” But I was much mistaken. I hadn’t even tasted what He had in store for me.
What does it look like when we use all our experiences and healing to help another heal? What does it look like when we embody Him and are a light? A candle. A burning flame that can’t be hidden because His light outshines all the darkness we’ve been through?
What if The Father of Glory wanted to come to spend an evening with you? What would that look like? What did Shavuot and the tongues of fire sound like?
We often imagine what it would have been like to walk with Yeshua/ Jesus. To intently listen to Him tell parables, but what about as we go through our repetitious life? A typical workday or weekend. What would that look like to meet the risen Savior face to face? I’m talking about something fragrant. Something memorable. Something hard to even articulate.
You may have gathered from my previous blog that I don’t like to be at the hospital without my husband. Our first night back at the hospital, he slept on a couch next to me. By the second evening, between his back and his hip, he was ready to go home and get some much-needed rest. Before he left, he came over and said a simple prayer asking The Father to watch over me and protect me while we were apart. He also prayed for the Father to send compassionate people to care for me. What a very precious husband I have.
After he left, I was exhausted and a tad anxious, but I was prepared to try and rest until he returned. If you’ve ever spent much time in a hospital, you know it’s challenging to get any rest with pain, nurses coming in and out, beeping IV’s, as well as bathroom help, and so forth. On my second return to this hospital, I had some of the best nurses I’ve ever come in contact with. However, there was one that seemed explicitly handcrafted for me. I’ll call her Daffodil.
I’m fast asleep, and around 8 pm, I hear my door open. I turn, sleepy-eyed, and look up at this woman who has just entered my room. She is tall– with a smile that made her eyes twinkle like stars in the night. She did not walk but seemed to sashay around the room in ballet slippers, softly checking this and that.
“I’m sorry Mrs. Manning; I’ll make a note that you’re an early sleeper so that I won’t disturb your rest.”
“Oh, I’m not an early sleeper. In fact, I’m a night owl. I was dozing from the medicine.”
We began to talk, and before we knew it, we were knee-deep in cooking shows. The Great British Bake-off! Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood were our first topic.
“Did you know that Mary contracted polio at the tender age of 13 and had a weaker arm due to it?
“No, I did not know that.”
“And did you know Paul would help her roll out her dough and prepare items?”
“Really,” I said, trying to sit up more.
“I think Paul looks like the guy from American Idol.”
“Oh, Simon!” Yes! Ha-ha!”
She laughed heartily, and then we were off to our next cooking adventure. Daffodil expressed her aspirations to create fabulous food. Her stories of family and grandparents who loved to bake were sprinkled throughout. I discussed my mom’s homemade carrot cake, and she described a delicate Italian cream cake made by her grandmother. The conversation was light but personal. We left baking and then traveled to World War II episodes on Netflix. Soon, we were reliving Foyle’s War, Land Girls, and Call the Midwives. Before I knew it, we were sailing on to authors and our all-time favorite books.
When Daffodil smiled, her light lit up the room. She exclaimed, “I love books! I love the smell of books!” I responded with an unquestionable, “YES!” Like fresh crayons in kindergarten! We giggled like school girls. Her phone buzzed, and she had to scurry off to another room. Suddenly, I felt revived. She was one of my people, and I was going to be blessed with her light for the next three days.
We discovered we lived very close to one another, right down the road from Barnes and Noble bookstore—a landmark. I mentioned my new grandson.
“Oh, I bet you just want to eat him up!”
She began to tell me about her nephew, who had high jacked her heart.
“Even if I have worked all night, need to clean, do laundry and catch up on things, one call from him “Aunt Daffodil can we go out?” and I am like “Baby, yes, we can!”
Suddenly, we laughed, and I had to hold my side, which was still very sore, to release the joy I felt. She caused me to forget my pain—my fear, and that my husband wasn’t coming back until morning.
Since the surgery, I have met two stoma nurses, both kind and good at what they do. Their profession is to try and prepare people to change a colostomy bag and empty it. For me, it was overwhelming and quite frightening to take in. It was humbling. You notice things and smells and the level of care. Since I had been back in the hospital with my wound, no one had helped me one on one yet, but Daffodil did. She took me in the bathroom and equipped me with gloves, tips for spraying, cleaning, and deodorizing the room, and she did it with the most compassion I’ve ever felt from any human. I wasn’t embarrassed, humiliated, or even scared to allow her to help me, help myself. This woman snuck into my room over and over again. She learned I was a writer of fiction and Torah teachings and wanted to know how to order my books.
She never told me about her religious beliefs. She never preached to me. She never quoted scriptures. No politics. No pushing or pulling, but her words held LIFE—her tongue FRUIT.
Daffodil walked into my room like a candlelit burning brightly–like a flower pouring out fragrance. She bowed lowly. My husband witnessed her in her other patient’s chambers as he walked down the hall, and he said: “She is that bright no matter where she goes.” That BRIGHT. Like a candle on a lampstand. Oh, Saints, we can be those candles! We can be the hope of glory!”
When we are crucified with Messiah Yeshua/ Jesus, we no longer live, but He lives in us.
The Zohar states, “When a Jew utters one word of Torah, the light [in his soul] is kindled…and he sways to and fro like the flame of a candle.”
CCR, Credence Clearwater Revival, has a song called “Long as I can see the light.” John Fogerty bellows for us to put a candle in the window.
“If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it will be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays.” Luke 11:36.
What does Yeshua tell us before this? “No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light.”
Thank you, Daffodil, for being a light to me, and thank you, Abba, for hearing my husband’s prayer and bringing light into my room.
We can heal from all the trauma by shining our lights on those in need. By listening. By praying. By giving sound counsel. By measuring our words. Even at our darkest moments in our most profound misery, we have LIGHT.
My husband’s picture below seemed to shine with extra light, and I wanted to personally thank him for being a bright light in my life for seven years now. Blessings friends. SHINE!