Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Your Turn...

*whispers*....come close.  No closer, I want to tell you a secret...

Just between you and me, I don't what to write this week...I'm trying (and succeeding) to distance myself from my past.  It is not something I can do for very long, but hey it's Christmas, so you can't blame me for trying. 

Dissociation is great for this.  Sometimes I can feel and act normal for short periods.  But then...what to write for my blog about healing from child abuse?  I could repost an older post.  Or I could tell you about Les Miserables.  I loved it, but I'll leave it at that.
Larisa Koshkina's what's really on my mind.  Since my repressed memories started to surface, along with the grief, pain, shame, and anger...came a crisis of faith.  I have alluded to it here on the blog, but not fully discussed it.  Why is it that the things that pain us the most deeply are the hardest to talk about?

I'm ready to talk about that faith crisis and how I am getting through it.  (I wish I could say it is in the past, but it isn't.)  This time though, I don't mean blogging about it, I mean that I intend to write a book.  I've already started it.

This is where "Your Turn" comes in. One day I went to a church bookstore, searching for a book that could help with the pain, I didn't find one.  I told my son, who was with me, "I will have to write the book I need--for someone else." 

So tell me--what would you be looking for in THAT book?  I know my own story, but I also know there are other stories.  Perhaps there are questions that others have asked that I haven't thought of.  Perhaps there are answers that others have found that are still hidden to me.  So I need your help.  What came to your mind as you read this post?  What would you like a book like this to cover?  What questions are you still searching?  What answers would you like to share?   

The questions are for friends/family and loved ones of survivors too.  What are your questions? 

I welcome your responses, here, on facebook or in email.  You can email me at lesliesillusions at gmail. 

Photo attribution: Larisa Koshkina

Saturday, December 15, 2012

What I will tell my children about the Newtown Massacre

Nat Sakunworarat

My readers, my friends, on this day after tragedy, if I could I would just sit with you and listen and validate your feelings about what has happened.  Since I can’t be there with each of you, I will share my thoughts, and hope that perhaps they will be helpful to someone in need.
Because of my past, I struggle with the concept of “safety”.  I think I stopped believing in that idea long before I stopped believing in Santa.  “No safe places,” is a mantra from long ago and deep within. 
So when I received emails from my school district, with suggestions on how to talk to children about the tragedy, and the first item on the list was “assure the children that schools are safe.”  I balked.  Big time.  How in the world can I tell them, in the light of today’s events, that schools are safe?  I would feel like a hypocrite.  I mentioned to my co-worker what a ridiculous idea I thought that was.  He said the idea is to reassure them and not….here he launched into what is best described as an imitation of Chicken Little.  Only in his version the sky was not falling, but schools were not safe.  All right, point taken, however, I still can’t tell my children schools are safe because I don’t believe in safe places.  So what should I tell them--and myself?
I wish I could tell them God will protect you.  But clearly God does not prevent these kinds of tragedies from happening, so a simple “God will protect” you is not enough.  As an adult, it comforts me to think of Jesus with Mary and Martha after Lazarus died.  Even though he knew that in a moment He would raise Lazarus from the dead, He still felt their pain and wept with them.  I believe He weeps with us now, after today’s events.  That comforts me, but I don’t think that would help the children.  It sure doesn’t feel like enough.  So what then?
Sometimes inspiration comes from the strangest places, and for me it came from a quote being passed around Facebook.  This is from Fred Rogers:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers.  You will always find people who are helping.’  
"To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster’, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers—so many caring people in this world.”
Look for the helpers.  Yes! I love that.  In today’s tragedy there were teachers, and police men and swat teams that knew what to do and took action quickly. One of those helpers was a teacher, Kaitlin Roig.  She acted quickly, closing her classroom door and ushering all the children into the class bathroom and blocked the door.  Roig said:
"If they started crying, I would take their face and tell them, 'It's going to be OK,. . .I told the kids I love them and I was so happy they were my students... I said anyone who believed in the power of the prayer, we need to pray and those who don't believe in prayer think happy thoughts."  Article attribution here
In hurricanes, and earthquakes, there are always helpers.  That is something I can feel comfortable telling my children, “God can’t always prevent tragedies, but He will send someone to help.  When bad things happen, look for the helpers.”
One of my favorite books, The Hiding Place, reaffirms this.  Corrie Ten Boom said that she wrote the book to show that “there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still.”  Corrie Ten Boom and her family were Christians living in Holland during Hitler’s reign.  They were part of a sort of underground railroad that helped 100’s of Jewish people escape.  However, they got caught and Corrie, her father and her sister were sent to a concentration camp.  Her sister and father died there.  Still Corrie shares in her book, many times throughout her tragedy where there were little miracles…helpers, if you will.
I can also tell my children that the children who died are in the arms of the Savior now.  They are not afraid anymore.  They are not hurting.  But what can I tell myself about the parents of those children?  I have never lost a child, and I pray I never have to know that pain.  I hope that perhaps those who have can find comfort from God who allowed His only Begotten to suffer and die for us.  Another tragedy that He could not prevent.
I don’t think that I will ever believe in safe places, but I do believe in a God who weeps with us, and sends “helpers”, maybe even angels and miracles to see us through the dark hours.

Photo Attribution: Nat Sakunworarat

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Whatever Happened to Wailing?

Wailing: a long, loud high pitched cry as of grief or pain. 

It is my understanding that wailing at funerals used to be common among many cultures throughout the world.  It still occurs in some places, but seems to be an endangered tradition.  I think that is a shame.  I remember when I first learned about the custom, probably as a teenager, I thought it was very strange.  Now, with a little more life experience under my belt, I think it is beautiful. 

Imagine with me for a moment the last funeral you attended...very quiet, right?  There likely was some crying, but most people these days are ashamed to cry and try to hide their grief even at a funeral.  Well-meaning friends and family, tell the bereaved things like: "He's in a better place."  Or "at least she went quickly."  The goal seems to be to cheer the person and help them not cry.  I wonder though, is this cultural tradition of hiding our emotions healthy?

I have been thinking a lot lately about the New Testament story of Lazarus' death.  When Jesus arrived he found Mary and Martha grieving, probably wailing.  He didn't offer them platitudes.  Even though he knew that in a few moments he would raise Lazarus from the dead, he didn't try to comfort them.  He felt their grief and wept with them.  I am so touched by that.  I think of wailing in much the same way---the bereaved joined by family and friends, sharing their pain together instead of hiding it and dealing with it alone.  

Of course, I am not just thinking about funerals, but how we share one another's grief at any time.  I would like to share something from The God Who Weeps by Terryl and Fiona Givens. They were discussing Job. 

You will recall that Job was suffering some great difficulties, including an illness so severe and disfiguring, that when his friends came to help, they did not recognize him.  When they did realize who he was, they sat with him for seven days and nights without saying a word.  Of this Terryl and Fiona Givens say:

"For a full week Job's friends do what genuine friends are called to do: their actions seem simple enough but they are sublimely great. They 'suffer with' they participate in Job's anguish.  This human capacity to suffer at the anguish of a loved one is an imperfect shadow of the grief a perfect being feels when His creations put themselves beyond His healing embrace."

There is so much in that short story and short quote that I love.  Job's friends actions were "sublimely great" they didn't try to solve his problems or cheer him up, they just sat with him and suffered with him.  Beautiful.  And then when the Givens make the comparison that God feels an even greater pain when we turn away from Him...does He grieve when I turn away from Him, not from sin, but from my anguish?  The Givens seem to be suggesting that He does.  I can't think of more healing words.

I wish that in our culture we could put away the platitudes and the advice, and relearn the art of "suffering with".  I even think, I wouldn't mind if my friends wailed with me a bit. 

Photo attribution: George Hodan