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Locked in a dark room. I can’t see anything, but all other senses are in hyperdrive – overstimulation. Too much to take in. No control. A war from my past revisits me. Painful memories fly at me like shrapnel, stinging me from the outside in. The piercing sounds of warfare return, my eardrums throb. I can smell the gunpowder in the frigid air. I can taste the bitter atmosphere around me.

A complete invasion of peace. Everything coming toward me at once with no way of regulating or sorting through each memory, each emotion, each sensation.

Then, a voice calls out:



I forget I can do that. 

I forget that I can ask the Light in.

Suddenly, the weapons pointed at me fall to the ground. Bullets stopped in their route. Their path halted. Their purpose thwarted. Enemies disarmed. They flee from the light.
Cacophonous reverberations echoing in my ears bringing reminders of isolation and abandonment — ALL AT ONCE SILENCED. 

Quiet relief. Stillness. Calm.

The invasion stops.

The Light overtakes the dark. The shadows bow. They must.

The presence of Another embraces me. Breathe in. Breathe out. Tense muscles relax. 

I am Safe.

I forgot that Abba was there all along. In the trauma. In the pain. And now – in the aftermath. 

In the desperate longing to heal. In the unpacking and sorting through my mess of shattered plans. In the memories. In the triggers. In the fears. 

He is the night light – the sun dawning over the darkness. Abba holds me as I recount my painful moments. One by one, He helps me sift through them. He hears my questions, accepts my anger, helps me forgive hurts, and mends my wounds. He is here in my brokenness. He is here in my healing. It is possible. He makes it possible.

Light floods into my prison cell of trauma – demolishing the iron bars around me. My eyes, adjusting to the light, take in the panorama of bright open space, illuminated with warm colors that encircle me like a blanket. The smell of fresh rain and soil preparing to yield new growth. New hope.

I am free. I am secure. Past wounds still hurt, but He comforts me. He bandages the cuts. He anoints the scars. His wounds – the healing to my own.

“When you are invited to pray, you are asked to open your tightly clenched fist and give up your last coin…A first prayer, therefore, is often a painful prayer because you discover you don’t want to let go. You hold fast to what is familiar, even if you aren’t proud of it. You find yourself saying, “That’s just how it is with me. I would like it to be different, but it can’t be now. That’s just the way it is and this is the way I’ll have to leave it.”  Once you talk like that, you’ve already given up believing that your life might be otherwise. You’ve already let the hope for a new life float by…you have wrapped yourself up in the destiny of facts. You feel it is safer to cling to a sorry past than to trust in a new future.” 
(With Open Hands, Henry Nouwen, pg. 21)

How do we move forward after life has left us shattered by a loss? How do we know when it’s safe to keep going? To plan again, to laugh again, to desire and enjoy again?
When we are left in the aftermath of grief or trauma, how do we pick back up our lives and continue living? Like returning to the decimated rubble left after a hurricane, it can often feel like things are too far gone to ever rebuild and move forward. Where do you even start?
It has been almost a year since my cancer diagnosis, and although my health is stable now, I still find myself paralyzed at times. Paralyzed by fear and grief. I’ve done a lot of work sorting through the rubble left over after transplant, and now the cancer. But it there always seems to be more to go through. 
I included this quote from Henry Nouwen because it describes how I often view my future. “That’s just how it is with me, I would like it to be different, but it can’t be now…[I] feel it is safer to cling to a sorry past than to trust in a new future.” Oooffhh. That stung.  
It’s safer not to desire, dream, and try new things. If I don’t plan then I won’t have to deal with the disappointment of them not happening. That’s what I tell myself, at least.

But, God keeps telling me – Move Forward.
How? Where? When? What if…?
I am with you, He reassures.

How can I trust You again? You took from me. What if You take again?

Then the LORD answered out of the whirlwind…”Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?…Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place? Have the gates of death been revealed to you? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?” 
(JOB 38:1,4,17,33)

Reverent and enraptured with His Might and Mercy, my spirit bows. I am reminded that He commands my breath – my days. They are all in His hands. And His hands are kind and trustworthy. 
God isn’t good or trustworthy or sovereign because I think or feel He is. He isn’t loving or just or merciful only on the days I see it. No. HE IS. HE ALWAYS IS HIMSELF, at all times. Consistent and steady. 

If you haven’t yet heard, I will be moving from California to Vancouver, Washington at the end of October. I will be moving to be closer to my family. I have peace and anxiety simultaneously, but I am confident that it’s the next right thing for me. I am moving forward, one deliberate step at a time. 

You can too, my friend. It may not look like moving to another state; maybe it’s just moving from your bed to the living room. Maybe it’s making a phone call to ask for help.
Leaving the pain of our past trauma and hurts behind is scary. It can feel safer to stay in the past, rather than moving into uncertainty. But your life was meant to be lived. 
You don’t move ahead alone. The God who “commanded the morning since your days began” is with you.