Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What Forest Gump Forgot to Tell You

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
I bet you heard Forrest Gump opine that life is like a box of chocolates, didn't ya? Well, I think he was wrong. I think life is more like an earthquake. I didn't think too much about that till today. Guess you heard about it. The earth around here shook for a while. Actually, even tho' it was not all that earthshaking, it went on a little too long for my comfort. Now that the novelty of it has worn off, I'd just as soon not feel that again.

One of my friends suggested it wasn't really an earthquake...just me, the fraidy cat, shaking with fear about something. Funny thing, about the time she said that, I had realized I was on the verge of having a mild panic attack. The thoughts of 'what if' had just begun to filter into the tail end of my day. Thankfully, her comment made me laugh and broke the spell as it were. I guess I owe her a box of chocolates. But, I digress.

After I quit laughing, I started thinking about how folks in such a close area had experienced the tremors in such different ways. Friends on one block were completely oblivious while some on the next heard a loud BANG followed by shaking. Son #1 thought our washer was off balance. I thought he had suddenly taken up Zumba in the privacy of his room. One friend's cabinet doors opened and closed while she grabbed the fishbowl before it crashed to the floor. At my husband's chemical plant, machinery caused vibrations are so common that most didn't even stop their work to note the occasion even tho' they felt the tremors.

As I watched the Facebook status threads burst into a frenzy of reporting, I realized there were as many different experiences and reactions as there were people. One phenomenon reverberated up and down the east coast of the US in limitless ways. I guess it isn't all that profound an observation, but isn't that just like life? One event has the power to impact many, many people. Yet, everyone feels the effects differently.

I've had a lot of reason to think about the earthquakes of life this last 10 days or so. I've been up close and personal with the monster in the shadows of our life. Or rather, I've been confronted with the sticky tentacles which thread in and out and up and down in our life because of the legacy the monster left behind. If you were sitting here beside me, you could hear me groan softly as I type these words. I never thought I'd have writer's block, but the stress has been utterly draining. Even words fail me now. That's saying a lot for someone who is never at a loss for them.

From the outside looking in, I can see the devastation left behind by the monster. To you, the fault lines would be invisible, but I can trace them with my eyes closed. The monster has affected my husband and our family. The monster has robbed us of who we could have been even tho' we have survived far beyond what others might have in our shoes. We continue to mount a valiant struggle to live beyond the trauma. And yet, we are never quite free.

There are others who bear unique scars as well. While we are never completely free, they remain totally imprisoned and unable to reach out for help in a constructive way. So deep is the pain that denial, avoidance, and control are the only ways to cope. I fear the end result may be disaster if help does not come quickly enough. It seems death is literally at the prison door. It's enough to make a fraidy cat tremble.

As I talked with Jeff about the situation, we wondered why he had the resilience to reach out, and keep reaching out, for help until he could tell the truth. Why was he able to when others equally affected were not?

He noted a pattern of reaching out for help with one hand while simultaneously pushing help away with the other. His voice dropped to a whisper, “Yea, I'm real good at reaching out with one hand while I push someone away with the other.” I was afraid to breathe too deeply lest I scare the truth away. It was the first time he had been able to verbalize his tendency to do so. Every time I almost give up, there is reason to hope again and to keep on going even when logic may tell me to give up.

The earthquake in our lives, and the monster who triggered it, has gone unnoticed by some and unacknowledged by others. There are those who are angry because we chose to confront the truth head on and won't back down. Some deny, some avoid, others do damage control. Our lives are bound together by the commonality of experience and pushed apart by the way each individual copes with the aftermath of our earthquake. 

Our best hope is that one day, somehow, our courage will empower those still imprisoned to reach out for help in constructive ways. We can only hope that help comes before it is too late. Tonight, the fraidy cat in me can only groan softly, “Even so, Lord, let it be....”
Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Isaiah 54:10 
Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you.


  1. Well, Carol Anne, I have a bone to pick with you. You almost made me miss an important event today.

    I recently signed up to receive your posts by email, but with everything going on over here, had only seen one or two posts. Today was different.

    Your blog came in during the night and I read Aug 22nd's post early this morning. Then I made the "mistake" of clicking on the link about losing a house. The next thing I knew, it was almost 11AM, and I had a live radio interview at 12noon!

    I still don't know where the time went, but I was lost for hours, reading all of your posts, struggling with you, praying for you, and asking God to use your powerful story...and to begin to use it soon.

    I couldn't wait to get back to your blog after the radio interview. You didn't disappoint me.

    Thank you for writing your vulnerability and transparency, your fears and failures, your successes and victories. Thank you for being woman enough to put truth to page and admit that the Christian life isn't easy. Contrary to what so many say, it doesn't all tie up in a nice pink bow at the end of the day. It may not even do it at the of a life.

    But regardless of where you are on this journey on any given day, regardless of the heartbreaks, hurts, and disappointments, your posts usually end with Scripture...pointing to the truth of God's Word, even if you don't feel it.

    Your posts remind me of David in Ps 55. Here he was, ranting and raving about the inequities of life, crying out to God in all his frustrations and fears, begging Him to change reality, and yet the last verse of that chapter says, "But as for me, I trust in You."

    We may not always feel it, we are certain not to always like it, but things will truly be okay as long as we can say, "But as for me, I trust in You."

    Thank you.

  2. Ok, I've tried to read your note about 6 times. I can't because I break down and cry each time. If I live to 100, no one will ever pay me a higher compliment. To have a fellow writer almost miss a live radio interview because she got lost reading what I wrote......and to have been lost in my words for hours when she did. Oh great..here I go again. I hope you have stock in Kleenex! RE your comment, "...and to begin to use it soon," I feel like such a lost soul, that it is hard to believe he can, would, or might ever want to. And so, I humbly ask you, please pray for that reality every time you think of me. I once heard every preacher considers resigning every Sunday PM or early Monday AM. I consider not writing another word every time I hit 'publish'. Last night, I was sure I was D-O-N-E. Then, this note posted. LOL...what did you DO? Now I have to write again tonight! ;-)

  3. Carol Anne, I'm so glad my thoughts encouraged you. A friend said on FB this week that she was putting a period at the end of her writing career. I told her she couldn't put a period, only a comma, that only God could put a period. She wrote the next day that an editor contacted her. Touche!

    Will look forward to the next post. :-)

  4. That's why I've been crawling through your archives for the past few days, I'm hooked! *hugs*

  5. Humble thanks...and I mean that. Also, from your lips to God's ears! May many others feel the SAME way. Not that I'm partial to my own blog or anything!