When you’ve suffered trauma, it’s easy to look back on your life and believe nothing has ever gone right. Because what’s happened has devastated a part of you, you do everything in your power to protect what is left.
I have spent the majority of my life attempting to control whatever I can. Something as simple as sweeping the floor and it being clean for ten minutes before it gets dirty again brings momentary relief. The dirt on the floor is an obtainable goal for me, so sometimes I sweep the kitchen three times in a day. I know it sounds silly and certainly doesn’t accomplish very much, but my floor is clean when I am done!
It’s the big issues that really give me problems, the ones that aren’t merely something I can sweep into a dust pan or under the rug. It’s those times in the past two years when I’ve attended a church in hopes of controlling my loneliness and have been triggered by something someone said and experienced even more loneliness and isolation. It was the time I actually found a job where I began to make friends and money saw the potential for growth and was laid off because of budget cuts.
Now I’m in a new church and a new job AGAIN, and have even experienced some things to feel hopeful about, however I still feel like I’m waiting for my world to change for the worst again. Even though I read the scriptures, listen to daily podcasts, and am experiencing some fellowship with other believers, I am very much afraid that the good things in my life will not last.
And yesterday at work seemed to confirm this. My employer had given me the task of updating the website, and because it’s a new job I really wanted it to shine…maybe a little too much like my kitchen floor. It is a WordPress site with a few more bells and whistles than this one, but one that doesn’t show up properly on my mobile device. I accomplished the task of updating the information I’d been asked to, but then decided to install a plug-in that could fix the mobile issues. I found a plug-in with good ratings and downloaded it. After it was finished I thought clicking activate would make it a tool I could use to adjust things, which shows my ignorance of web design, because after pressing this button the dreaded http 500 error appeared on the screen. The site went down and I was unable to log back in and fix it. And the site is still down waiting for my employer to return on Monday to fix it. And I’m quite sure she’s not going to be happy.
I recognize this probably wouldn’t be a big deal to a lot of people. We are human. We make mistakes. We apologize. We promise not to do it again. We offer to fix what we can. And life goes on. But when you’ve experienced the kind of losses our family has in childhood and as adults the loss of control feels like a bomb is gonna blow destroying the little bit of hope we’ve found. And sometimes it just feels easier not to hope at all. If you don’t expect anything good and good doesn’t come, then at least you have the control of knowing what to expect. It’s the same faulty thinking sexual abuse brings about. If a victim of abuse believes there was something about her that caused the abuse to happen, then she believes she has some control over it happening again. But what control as a little girl did I have over my adopted father’s abuse? None at all.
Looking at everything that has happened in my life, I realize that control hasn’t worked for me. I know I need to give it up. I know I need to trust in more than myself.
Jesus told his disciples not to be afraid when things got out of control, but they all panicked when the storm threatened to drown them. And even after all the miracles they’d seen Jesus do, they fled when He was arrested. And Peter who swore he’d never deny Jesus, did it three times to maintain his own control. So I’m in good company.
But how does one really trust in Jesus and give up control? That’s a question that only faith can answer. Faith in something more than myself. Faith in the One who loves us deeply.
The need to control comes from fear. Fear that bad things are going to happen again. Fear that I’ll feel pain. Fear that it won’t ever get any better.
Scripture says that perfect love casts out all fear, and that those who fear are not perfected in His love. I am not perfected, because I am still afraid.
In this fallen world I see things in a mirror dimly. His love for a broken person like me is still a blur. I am not perfected based on what I can see, but one day I’ll see clearly all the fullness of His glorious love and all fear will be gone.
When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
It’s the promise that one day I will finally see my unseen hope in all of it’s fullness that keeps me hanging on. It’s the tiny mustard seed of faith in my heart whispering God loves me that causes me once again to loosen my grip on control. It’s His love I see reflected in others like me who have lost so much, but still cling to His promise to bring about GOOD.
I’m going to need to remember this Monday morning when I face my employer and things may feel like they are falling apart again. A lot will depend on whether my decision to fix the website resulted in crashing it completely. (Feel free to share in the comments section if you are experienced in web design and know this isn’t going to happen!) Also, prayers are appreciated for a positive outcome. But most of all, pray that no matter what happens that I will trust in God who loves me more than I can understand. I pray that you know that, too in whatever is happening in your life.
God bless, Liz
I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Update: The website did crash, but someone with more knowledge than me about WordPress fixed it! My employer thanked me for wanting to correct the website, but asked me to wait for assistance next time. I was relieved! Thank you for prayers!