It’s been a week since I confided in you.
It’s been a week — since I’ve let you into my writing journey that’s collided with childhood trauma and post-traumatic stress.
And I can’t believe I’m really still here. Writing.
I thought for sure you were going to turn away. I swore I heard people clicking “unsubscribe” by the masses, even before I finished writing. I imagined people whispering to each other, “Oh, you know that Bonnie? …”
But you didn’t turn away.
You stepped out to stand beside me, to call me friend and welcome me back with open arms.
You steadied my steps, as I crossed the street.
And with great kindness, you left the anonymity of where you were standing — to step into my shoes — into my heart — to tell me you are here.
You came to walk alongside me.
Even as I was weak and trembling, you told me my voice still reached you.
What I Expected
You emerged to tell your stories — some already unfolded — others still unfolding as we speak.
So many of you courageously opened your heart. You took the time to write a comment, send me an email, tweet or Facebook me. Still, countless many joined hearts and prayers for me quietly behind keyboards and smartphones.
I wasn’t looking for any of this. In fact, I expected silence. Awkward silence.
You say that I am brave. But, I felt the opposite writing to you so unfinished, the bones of my frames standing bare. I couldn’t sleep the night before it published. Anxiety and fear tossing and turning me restless.
You see, there was a time in my twenties, I was a girl with a wild heart for Jesus, fearless with only dreams in her eyes. I ventured out into the mission field by leaving the safety of my Silicon Valley career. But when I returned unexpectedly, I returned with more than I left. My bags were packed full of unexpected hurt and betrayal.
When I tried to open them up to friends back home, I was met with silence. Disappointment in their eyes. I could see it — I was no longer the happy Bonnie they’ve always known. They didn’t know what to say. I only had questions, but they were only comfortable with simple answers.
The words they did offer left no space for the Bonnie who was uncertain and confused. I was no longer useful. My faith journey did not fit into their idea of what a God-filled life ought to look like. And their silence left the pit of rejection deep within me.
That experience taught me not to trust myself — or others — with the parts of me that are unfinished.
The Brave Ones
Their rejection launched me into a season of hiding — for many, many years. Until God led me to people who knew the faith journey because they lived it — and were continuing to live it. Their love and friendship — soaked in a common love for people, the Scriptures and Jesus — brought me back to life. I entered back into ministry, but I was very measured in what I would risk.
So, when I stood at the curb last week — prompted to come out of hiding about my childhood trauma and PTSD — I was indeed more than resistant. I was crossing into a land I had once visited that was full of pain and rejection. That land is the truth of my pain and vulnerability.
I fought against self-preservation. I thought if you looked into that place of empty, you would reject me. And I would be alone.
I braced myself.
Instead of silence, you clothed me with your own vulnerability. You accepted me, when you could have easily stood at a distance.
You’ve changed my story.
Yes, you — the brave ones–
— the ones whose hearts are big enough to hold the mystery of pain and faith;
— the ones who have asked the hard questions and touched the place of empty;
You have changed my story.
By meeting with me here in the dark.
By joining me in this place of faith.
— to see me as the Bonnie I truly am
— to hear the beginnings of my full voice
and still invite me to speak more again.
You gave me courage to walk straight into this place of empty, to stay and see. Where will Jesus take me?
You Are The People
The night before I went to see Dr. P again, I was filled with fear. On one hand I was joyful that I crossed the street, with so many faith friends to encourage me. But, the darkness of my childhood trauma pressed in tighter.
I experienced a heavy rash of anxiety attacks immediately. They had subsided for a period before I wrote, so their resurgence throughout the night frightened me. What will happen as I continue to write?
As I lay on my bed, torn by contradicting feelings of peace and panic, I cried out to Jesus, I don’t know what to do. Going back into hiding was not an option any longer. But, I was afraid to keep moving forward.
Jesus answered me by bringing me to a scene from the Apostle Paul’s life. Paul was living as a tentmaker, while trying to preach the Gospel in the new city of Corinth. People were not appreciative of what he had to say, to say the least. Paul was rejected. I guess in today’s Christian circles, his missionary stint would be considered a disaster.
Then, this passage of Scripture came to mind — Acts 18: 9-11 —
And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent ; for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.” And he settled there a year and six months…
The Message puts it this way —
One night the Master spoke to Paul in a dream: “Keep it up, and don’t let anyone intimidate or silence you. No matter what happens, I’m with you and no one is going to be able to hurt you. You have no idea how many people I have on my side in this city.” That was all he needed to stick it out. He stayed another year and a half, faithful…
My dear, dear faith friends.
You are the people God has in “this city”.
You are the people on God’s side in this place I’ve journeyed into.
You have spoken. You have not stayed silent.
Many of you have written to tell me you are praying for me. I am confident you are. For I have indeed needed your prayers.
You’ve Changed My Story
You’ve changed my story because you’ve met me here in this place.
I can stay in this place, to write when I can and what I can.
Thank you for giving me the grace to gather my full voice, one small timber at a time.
Thank you for pulling up a chair and sharing your faith journey — to open up your heart — and speak as friend to mine.
Because of you, we have found new faith friends in cities all over the world. Not because I am anyone of significance, but because you belong to our loving Master Jesus. You have been living lives of faith. You have been placed in different cities, and He is using you to love on those around you. Simply by living your lives in the open, touching one heart at a time.
Reading your voices in the comments move me so deeply. Isn’t it beautiful? This mosaic of pain and faith, all forming the face of Jesus.
Do you see Him?
I do. In you.
The Usual and The Quiet
You’ve launched me into my next phase of healing. And I thank God it will include writing.
Some days, I’ll tell you stories about this journey of healing. God has used a small circle of people to carry me to the point of last week. I hope to introduce you to these special friends in future posts. They have forever changed my life because they have stood quietly and tirelessly by me through this maze of confusion.
They have been doing the hard work of listening, staying and accepting me as I am, without the need to “make everything better”. These are the ones who know that being faithful is the hard work of serving Christ. They are the wise ones who kept my feet to the fire of healing, when I could have easily returned to the easy way of retreating.
I am standing here with you because they did not leave me when I was most desperate. I had to lean into their faith for me, when I felt sure mine wasn’t strong enough. And I can’t wait to share their words encouragement to me, with you.
But, I don’t want you to think this blog is getting hijacked by the topics of anxiety and PTSD either. I’ll be sharing my personal story through the lens of the spiritual journey I’m on and exploring the questions of faith that arise through this experience.
The Faith Barista bar is now open. Which means I’ll be serving up the usual Faith Barista brews too — encouragement through devotionals, Bible Espresso’s, Worship Smoothies, Book Review Latte’s… you know. The usual.
And yes, some days, I will want to just be quiet. I know you understand why now. Thank you for the grace to write this way. I don’t know where all this is heading. Knowing I have the space to be quiet gives me permission to be free in all this.
The Next Time
So the next time you find yourself wondering why our Master has you walking through a certain place of faith — know that He has you there for a purpose.
You are on His side. And He has many people in all cities.
God uses your faith in all seasons.
I know this.
Because He’s used your faith to change my story.
Oh, one more thing before I leave this post. Your prayers for me were heard by our Jesus last week in my therapy session with Dr. P. We uncovered a very big breakthrough — that only surfaced when I finally chose to write and enter fully into the place of empty. I will have to wait to tell you all about it. Because you know. I’m still putting the pieces together.
Thank you, dear friends. I’m so, so very grateful for you.
I’ve read each and every comment. You can be confident I’m remembering you in my prayers, thinking of where you are on your faith journey — with thanksgiving and much affection.
How is God prompting you to step out and share pieces of your story?
How has God changed your story because of a faith friend?
Pull up a chair. Click here to share a comment.
Aaah… I’m just so happy to hear the cafe door swing open…and see you here, my friend.
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