Discovering and Defining Who We Are
My therapist, a very wise woman, has told me that in order to completely negate the power that PTSD has over one’s life, one must “reframe the past,” taking what we see as disasters in our life and realizing how they have shaped us in ways that we have never appreciated. I am NOT my PTSD. It does not define who I am, any more than being bi-polar defines who I am. What I am is the sum total of the pro-active decisions I have made about what I will do with what I have been given—both positive and negative “gifts.”
I choose to give hope to those who have none. That is my mission statement. There is hope. At the age of 63, I can look back on countless times when I thought I was in the midst of the worst disaster imaginable. However, now I can see that each of those times was in actuality a blessing that was preparing me, like the piece of a puzzle, to become someone different than who I thought I was.
I can choose to view my life one of two ways: 1.) As a life full of abuse, depression, and illness, OR 2.) As a life that proceeded from miracle to miracle. Someday, on this blog, I will recount those miracles, but now I ask you to believe only that those miracles could never have happened if the disaster hadn’t happened first. And the net result of all those miracles is that my faith is strengthened in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
That relationship is one I prize above all others, and whatever price I had to pay to obtain it was worth it.
I have also glimpsed the depths of sorrow and despair and have emerged as a survivor. That journey has prepared me to be a writer, to have a platform and audience to which I can attest to the reality of hope.
Faith must precede hope. How do we get faith? It begins with a desire. First, we may simply desire to believe. So we exercise that desire, becoming pro-active in our search for faith. We show humility, a willingness to be taught. And the way we do that, is to pray. Our prayers will be answered, but we have to be very still and quiet inside, because that answer will often be just a whisper. Or it may come in the form of a person sent to help us. In order to receive answers, we must do that which demonstrates we are serious about this. We should not be profane. We should not dwell on bad feelings, but seek to embrace what is best about our lives. We should express gratitude for what is good about our lives when we are in prayer.
Once we have an answer, we must do something about it. Faith requires action. We must pro-actively proceed in the direction we are led. In this way, we build a history upon which we can rely.
For an example, think about Moses and the Children of Israel. Moses, who considered himself a weak vessel, totally reliant on his God, learned faith as miracle upon miracle was shown to him during the period when he was endeavoring to free his brethren from Pharaoh. So, when he got to the Red Sea with the entire Egyptian army closing in, he knew that he must ask for another miracle. Because of the past, he had faith that the Lord would help him in the future. But in order to get to that future, he had to exercise that faith. He prayed that the sea would part, and then he walked forward. It did part. The Children of Israel walked through on dry ground, while the Egyptian army drowned behind them.
As we remember the past instances of grace in our life, we have confidence that that grace can be relied upon to bless our future endeavors, if we act on our faith, which Paul called “the substance of things hoped for which are not seen but which are true.”
There is that word: hope. Thus we see that the whole process is like a helix spiraling upward, as our faith and our hope grow.
If our lives were never hard, we would never need to learn this lesson. And if we never learned this lesson, we would never learn that there is a power in the universe that is so great, that it even attends to our first, tentative, whispered prayer.