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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7

I memorized this scripture when I was very young. It wasn't an assignment and I didn't read the Bible at that particular time in my life, so I'm unsure how I encountered it. Regardless, it made an indelible impression in my brain.

Yesterday I was thinking of all the things I'm afraid of:
1. Emotional pain. I think everyone fears this. It's beyond physical pain and often, when we believe ourselves healed, it pops up again to remind us there are still parts that continue to bleed in the background. It's obnoxiously difficult to address because it involves accepting weakness and vulnerability and forgiveness of self--all of which are things I would like to avoid.

2. People, in general, or perhaps more accurately, my feelings about them. I'm afraid of the intense love I feel for those closest to me, and also afraid of the depth of my desire to keep them in my life forever. I'm afraid I'll want too much or ask too much or just BE too much. I'm afraid they don't really know how to love someone as messed up as I am, so at some point they'll give up and move on. I'm afraid they'll stay and I won't understand why.

3. PTSD. I don't want to be afraid of it, but I am. It's unpredictable and seems to know me better than I know myself. It waits until I'm weak, then pounces, leaving me breathless at its ferocity. Just when I believe I understand what to do, and how to cope, its tactics change and I am back at square one, facing the exhausting task of trying again to understand my PTSD tainted life when I am already tired.

4. Myself. When I lay myself out--neatly labeled, diagramed, and charted--I don't understand half of what I see. I find myself masking most of my reactions because I'm uncertain whether they're socially acceptable, or even acceptable at all. I find my feelings unreliable and often false. I'm not always certain if my thought patterns are sane. At the core I am unpredictable and erratic.

5. Sleep. I never know what I'll find there. Most of the time it's stressful to find sleep in the first place, and once achieved, it continues to cause me stress. I'm very glad to greet the morning. Often I look for it before it's ready to reveal itself simply because I'm tired of courting sleep.

I remember when I encountered the above scripture, thinking about God-given powers. I read the ones offered in that verse and understood that these are things I would seek for--have sought for-- in my life. Those three things--power, love, a sound mind--are what I would use to define myself forever.

Power is something I've wished for since the day my personal power was stripped from me. It was taken as a tiny child by a parent who wished to control every aspect of my life and my self. It was taken by my cousin who caused me pain in ways I had never before imagined--ways I wish to never again encounter. I do not wish for power over another. I do not wish for power that will gain fame or fortune. I wish for a power to know who I am, to govern myself and accept my emotions, to live each day of my life certain that I will be able to manage whatever might befall me. I wish for the power to process sorrow, seek joy, and accept love. If God has given me this "spirit of Power," I want to be able to recognize, accept, and utilize it.

I believe I know something of love. I feel it, certainly. I understand that love occurs with differing depths and frequencies. I do not predict when it will happen and attempt to embrace it when I notice it. I longed for love from a parent who could not feel connected to me. I believed in the counterfeit love offered by my cousin. I tried without ceasing to love those who entered my life without limits or conditions. My experience with love, however, is that it is accompanied by pain--often with a depth and breadth that encompasses the existent love. If God has given me this "spirit of Love," I hope one day that my need for it will be filled to the extent that I give. I long to be able to accept love from others "without limits or conditions." I wish to be able to balance the pain with the joy.

My mind is not sound. I know this. It is tainted by my past, by fear, by a stress disorder. But I am intelligent and inherently logical. One day, I believe I will gain mastery over the thoughts that stem from irrational experiences. One day, I believe the PTSD monster will become familiar and less fearful. One day, I believe the person inside will be clearly evident as I live the reality of my life with honesty and integrity. If God has given me the "spirit of a Sound Mind," there is no reason I cannot achieve my desire to think with clarity and one day leave behind the chaos and distress connected with PTSD.

I understand that while I may not have access to all those things today, one day I will.

I believe this.

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