“for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light”
Ephesians 5:8 ESV
Early morning drive and I look to my right. I say to myself
The light is returning.
I chase it down all day long, the view from the porch perched in a slightly sloping country valley.
The sunlight on tops of the leaves. My granddaughter and I walking together.
She doesn’t know or does she?
Her grandma is new.
Her grandma is breaking old cycles.
She laughs in the early morning, first thing every morning happy baby.
The dark had been pursuing me, dogged pursuit that left my soul and body ill.
Unrelenting in its battle, the enemy was allowing an encounter to trigger old thoughts old ways and old questions.
God, why did you allow this to happen?
This is a personal story, it may help someone, my sharing the surprise boldness of a conversation.
And what followed.
My response and my reconciliation. Brief parlay into dark and return to light.
I had to, darkness was not going to take from me all God had me tangibly becoming.
It was a Friday night, a rare date with my husband, “GT”.
Cool enough for jeans and long sleeves, a chance to wear jewelry, a time to feel pretty.
Downtown crowded because of a festival, we chose a sports bar and delighted in an old fashioned, made like your mama, cheeseburger. We split the fries.
He had a beer.
I had a glass of Merlot.
It was memory making, the ambiance, the lack of concern over no fancy seating, no fanfare for my birthday, belated.
Content and enthused. That’s how the night felt.
I’m Still Standing
A relationship of almost twenty years,
Content and enthused, a good place in a marriage.
We find our seats in the old restored concert hall. The music is good, the night continues as I watch my husband infatuated by the talent of the band, he leaned up in his seat, toe tapping and an occasional, “that was good” and rowdy applause.
It was my birthday gift, the Eagles tribute concert. He really wanted to go. It was his idea, his choice of “my” gift. He told me it would be good. He really wanted to see the show.
Me too, because there’s no call for pouting over such things when you’re eighteen years in.
Committed and secure.
Intermission came and we joined the mass of others. Selfies and restroom lines. He ordered a beer. For me, a wine and a bottled water.
I heard my name “Lisa, how ya doing?”
Puzzled, I turned. Vague recognition of the man but really no idea.
He identified himself. Small talk began, words with no relevance exchanged.
I was in shock. After 30 plus years, I encountered the brother of my abuser.
I was shaken. I fought against the feeling. I numbed it with downing my ice cold Dasani water, something to do with my hands. Help me feel safe.
I was thirsty and nervous.
I felt like I was drowning, still, so thirsty.
The concert continued. Two rows behind us was where they were sitting, the brother and his wife.
I’d been spotted like a sharpshooter, I was a target.
The enemy had a ready participant, this brother set on setting me off course of my recent and joyous healing.
The encore was done, we rose to go home. My husband’s hand on the curve of my back, I paused on the stairs.
I said his name.
I looked at him, his wife’s face unsettled, a little caught off guard and I said out loud.
You know your brother abused me…it was very bad.
He responded and his response made sense, so long ago, maybe we all were a mess back then. The conversation softened trying to make impossible amends.
I’m not sure. I backpedaled a little after seeing him try to reconcile his brother’s wrong.
I said I’m okay now.
Just wanted to be sure you knew.
But, that wasn’t my reason. I felt strong in that moment like a fighter or a skilled and confident hero.
This is your chance, take it, was my thinking.
It left me off kilter. I busied myself for the rest of the weekend.
Asked my husband on Sunday, what would be his answer about my confrontation,
Would you say that was strength or weakness?
Naturally, he said “strength”.
But, the real question I asked of myself, “was that the behavior of a survivor or a victim, the conversation of one reconciled with her past or one still hindered”?
Monday came and the trauma triggers were tightening their chains.
I fought it.
I fought in the quiet. I was physically ill, every joint and muscle ached.
It is not up to me, restoration, only God.
I knew the response for me. I wrote one note then tore it apart, a second more brief and not a word of defense, not a word about me.
“Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!”
Psalms 80:3 ESV
Briefly wrote, I apologize for my words, I saw they were upsetting for your wife. You’re not responsible for your brother. My behavior was not consistent with the place God has brought me. I wish your brother nor your family any ill will.
Then I mailed to an address that may or may not be his and left the corner blank that would have given my place.
Many would disagree with my choice to apologize.
The note was not necessary.
Or was it?
Many would say that I was weak, I had been victimized again.
I thought the same things.
I listened to God’s spirit and chose the less popular way.
Reason to Believe
On Tuesday morning, I drove back to the country. I’d been trying to capture the crescent moon all morning at home.
Told myself, there’s a reason you love the crescent. When you were a little girl, someone surely told you stories about God and the moon.
You don’t remember the conversations.
Someone surely talked to you though, left an impact on your soul.
Someone cultivated the God in you, the one who chooses to ponder, to bravely pursue better things. Take chances when left alone your behavior would be forgotten, might be seen as acceptable.
The sky opened up with tangerine light and the clouds were like an evolution from under, all clustered together as if to say,
I see the light. I’m getting closer. I am so happy you found me and I, you.
I set out to write about hope after trauma, key word, “after”.
I asked God repeatedly over the past several days.
Why did you let this happen?
Over and over, I found myself thinking, you’ve come so far, this is a real setback.
Why such a setback?
Why after all these years would I be called out by this brother?
He didn’t have to speak, there was no need for friendly or otherwise reunion.
But, he did.
I’m farther along because of it.
God knew I would be.
No setback now, only cause to move on.
For months I’ve written, prayed and thought about committing myself to a mindset I call “forward not before”.
What made sense to set me back has only beckoned me forward.
Because it wasn’t strength that led me to confront the brother, it was hurt and harm and opportune place.
The enemy had a hand in this. There’s no reason to believe otherwise.
It was weakness hoping to be strong by succumbing to weakness.
Strength, I believe, is recognizing the encounter as a lesson.
A lesson with a quiz I didn’t pass right away, took upon myself to initiate a retake.
Crazy choice, and uncalled for some might say.
But I’m better. I made right my wrong, the only behavior I can control.
The light has been shining in new places. I’ll not allow the darkness back in.
My part in my trauma story is now redemptive.
Redemptive and light.
Light that lingers, returns, dispels the encroaching darkness.
The light of believing and continuing.
Continue and believe.
I’m still standing. I’m still here.
I could have been different, there were moments I’m surprised I survived.
Good, not harm.
Light always returns.
Elizabeth’s grandma and her restoration, her legacy.
Love one another.