Our Empathetic Witness

I am writing to those of you that are struggling this holiday season. I have to tell you that my PTSD symptoms have been on high alert! For six weeks I have been struggling with them. Every day I wake up and wonder what the day is going to bring. Am I going to go into full out panic mode or am I going to have little bits of anxiousness off and on throughout the day? I have to get on my knees and go to God and say, “I simply cannot make it through this day without your help. I need you to hold my hand and get me through this day. I am crying out to you for your help and deliverance.”

I realize for a lot of people the holidays can bring a mixture of emotions. When I was little the holidays weren’t exactly the most wonderful time of the year. My father didn’t enjoy spending money on gifts, so he usually was in a bad mood. Now, in his defense, he wasn’t the most gifted person at doing anything mechanical or technical around the house, so putting up the Christmas tree was a real chore for him. It was always a live tree so he had to put it in the stand which usually required a ton of work to get it straight. Then, he would hunt for the saw in order to get rid of some branches. That saw made us run for our lives! (Just kidding) Once he got it in the stand, it might have toppled over a time or two. Then he would have to put the lights on the tree and usually a light or two would be out so you can imagine how much fun it was to hear the words that came out of his mouth over that! I can laugh about it now! But, as a child it kind of dampened the festive mood. Thankfully, the ornament hanging was left to us and he would just watch or leave the room.

I have been riddled with emotions this year because I am now an empty nester and it isn’t as much fun to decorate and get things out as it usually is. I miss the days when the kids were around to help me or see the excitement in their faces as we decorated the tree. I am realizing that they made the holidays for me. I have loved every single moment being their Mom and celebrating with them. This is my first Christmas decorating season with just the hubby. I have to say that I miss those girls of mine! I know it might sound ridiculous to you, but it is a loss for me. I love sharing all those special moments with them.

I have never been good at handling loss. The problem is I don’t grieve well. I was taught at an early age that pain doesn’t hurt by my Dad so I learned how to stuff my pain and move on. This past week, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and stopped in my tracks when I saw a quote posted by my friend David Hampton. This quote by Peter Levine really made me think. It said, “Trauma is not what happens to us, but what we hold inside in the absence of an empathetic witness.” I started to cry. Tears started flowing as I realized that I went so many years without an empathetic witness in my life. As a little girl, I didn’t have anyone to run to or anyone to help me. I didn’t have anyone to talk to about things that were happening in my house.

I began to realize that I hadn’t understood or believed that I ever had an empathetic person to help me with the trauma in my life. I learned to keep it bottled up inside until my body couldn’t do it any longer. My brain told me to keep my mouth shut and just keep going. My counselor Marcia was the first person that I could tell everything to. I went so many years without realizing that I had someone else in my life that could understand and sympathize. God was my empathetic witness! He was the one person who has seen it all and had the supernatural ability to help me! I just didn’t realize that He wanted to help me with the trauma and wanted me to talk to Him about it. It took me a long time to feel safe enough to do it, but now I can tell you that He is the absolutely best person in the world to share your trauma with. He is more than capable to handle everything that you have been through. I still have days that I battle my old belief system that tells me I am all alone, but it is getting better. I cannot go by how I feel. I have to go by what scripture says.

Psalm 57:1-3 “Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills His purpose, for me. He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me; God sends His love and His faithfulness.”

Deuteronomy 33:26-27 “There is no one like the God of Israel. He rides across the heavens to help you, across the skies in majestic splendor. The eternal God is your refuge, and His everlasting arms are under you. He thrusts out the enemy before you, it is He who cries, “Destroy them!”

If you are struggling this holiday season, I want you to know that you have an empathetic witness. His name is Jesus. Matthew 1:23 “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel —which means, “God with us.” He is with us at all times, during any situation or issue, and ready and willing to help us. Matthew 28:20 It took me years to look at Him as someone who is always with me. It took me years to see Him as my Father. I still struggle with the concept that He loves me so much! I have to overcome my feelings with what God’s word says. He doesn’t lie because He isn’t capable of it. He speaks truth to us at all times. So if He says He loves you, then He does. If you want to see who God really is, look at Jesus. He is the visible representation of His Father. Everything that He tells us in His word is true.

I would also like to challenge all of us to be aware of our friends, relatives, co-workers and others that are struggling this holiday season. Let us be the feet of Jesus and reach out to them and let them know they have someone to listen to them or help them. Let us be aware of those that are hurting and might just need some encouragement from us. I am going to be perfectly honest and tell you that I could really use your prayers right now. I am struggling with a tremendous amount of anxiety. I am leaning on the Lord to get me through each day. I would love to be healed from this, but God has me in the palm of His hand, so I need to trust Him. I treasure your prayers so very much! If you would like to leave a prayer request with me, I would love to pray for you. Until next time dear friends…..

*The book featured in my picture is called “Unwrapping the Greatest Gift” by Ann Voskamp. She has something to share every day of December to keep us focused on the true meaning of Christmas. The picture in my post is from December 23 in the book. It features Matthew 1:23. She also has a devotional that is called “The Greatest Gift.” I highly recommend both!

2 thoughts on “Our Empathetic Witness

  1. Laurie, I was not aware of your struggles. You are in my prayers. God will provide the peace you are asking for. Your blog was so good. It has to be therapeutic for you to put all of this in words. Looking forward to your next one.

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