Summer 2015 for me is marked by shock. I’m a dictionary and thesaurus nerd and this perfectly described my summer:
- a sudden and violent blow or impact; collision.
- a sudden or violent disturbance or commotion: the shock of battle.
- a sudden or violent disturbance of the mind, emotions, or sensibilities:
The burglary was a shock to her sense of security. The book provided a shock, nothing more.
the physiological effect produced by the passage of an electric current through the body.
My summers are usually full of leisurely visits to parks, Longview Lake beach, Super Splash and Schlitterbahn. My husband, Jerome and I also host a annual giant barbecue with almost 100 people in our backyard but this summer we didn’t get around to it. This morning my husband asked, what happened to our giant barbecue? I guess I wasn’t in a particularly hospitable mood.
Violent, disturbing events marched in when I couldn’t go forward to see a child in his casket at his wake. I was a coward while the parents bravely welcomed people and affirmed their faith in God through their senseless tragedy. Weeks later I attended another funeral of a well-loved young man who left behind a beautiful, godly wife and little children. In the middle of those funerals was a memorial service for friends of mine whose elderly parents had committed suicide.
I admire my friend who went public with his parent’s suicide that was featured in the local newspaper. Going public with private tragedy exposes you and your family but they were embraced in their mourning. Sitting in a funeral, wake or memorial service causes you to realize that life is but a breath. And that whatever God put me on the planet for, I need to get to it.
The doing I’ve been wrapped in is in other people. Filling out complicated financial aid forms and going back and forth with Alex’s prospective university’s financial aid office. Cheering him on during his performances and shopping for his text books online. Filling out more forms and shopping for clothes and supplies for D’Andra starting her first year in high-school.
While people were dying and I occasionally screamed at the computer after watching a video or reading news about another senseless shooting, racially charged riot or the election, my body reacted with a skin disorder. I woke up in the middle of the night with the tormenting itch spreading uncontrollably across my body.
I lost a few clients and gained new clients and my body ruthlessly reminded me of my sensitivity to stress. Loud messages were etched on my skin that I’m limited, I’m human and I need help. The skin condition tempted me into isolation, because after all, I look horrible. Hence the Facebook live videos to encourage people stop and I limit my appearances.
The recent diagnosis of a skin disorder that has no cure shocked me. My doctor said I needed to learn to live with this disease that can flare up without warning. I’m a Christian and of course I believe in healing. I’ve seen people healed of cancer, blood diseases and arthritis. My husband has been healed many times by the power of prayer.
The incurable disease brings sleepless nights and changes my appearance. I spend sleepless nights praying for the parents who lost their child, the woman who lost her husband and my friend who lost his parents. I pray while the itch keeps me up as a way of saying to this torment that you’re robbing me but I’m fighting back by warring for my friends.
My shock absorbers have been daily devotions and time with friends. A trip to Franklin, TN sent me to Suzanne Tipton and Linda Walker, friends that knew me in my insecure, awkward 20s and to another friend who knows secrets I’ve never told anyone. Laughing with Suzanne while her globe-trotting missionary husband Greg visited with my husband and kids was a breath of fresh air. Enjoying pizza with Pastor Diana Trout who loves me even though she’s heard my dark secrets was a breeze from heaven. Sitting and laughing in Linda’s kitchen was another breath of God. Eating chicken with Steve and Deborah Murrell, Walter and Linda Walker and Rice Broocks was a wind of God refreshing me with dreams of conquering the world again even though I’m just a mom with an incurable disease being pulled in a million different directions.
The march of life stood still for a moment of enjoying being with friends we fought with in the trenches of campus ministry in our early days as Christian. We were involved in a very conservative worldwide campus ministry that ended in the late 90s. We were foxhole buddies or survivors of a giant dysfunctional Christian movement that dreamed of changing the world. God breathed hope into me again as I went from one funeral to another and juggled the demands of my children’s transitions.
Shock forces you to stop, ponder and consider the direction of your life. Friendships are weighed and commitments are tested. I narrowed my life because I have limited strength and focus to give.
I didn’t have the strength to pull off a giant social event. Instead, I chose to invest in a few people by having coffee or dinner with one person. The summer of shock made me go small with my social life. I didn’t post a bunch of Instagrams or Facebook pics showing off my social life because of the red rash and splotches around my neck.
I wanted to privately enjoy my TV producer 20-something who is writing a book or my Israeli martial arts aficionado who blew my mind with her story. Or the long-time bubbly blond friend who knows my propensity to isolate myself, yet she pulls me out of my self-imposed cave to take me to dinner.
Suzanne, Linda, Patty, Steph, Jacquie, Geneva, Cornerstone Group, the Bunco ladies group that I belong to and World Revival Church are my shock absorbers. They have helped me process transition, an unexpected diagnosis, financial stress and torment. Everyone needs a shock absorber or you will be consumed by the sizzling currents of tragedy and transition.
Reading the Bible everyday has been another shock absorber with stories of other people who have walked with God through treacherous times. The book of Psalms was written by David who was being hunted down by assassins or threatened to be overthrown by his son, Absalom.
“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
Who can list the glorious miracles of the Lord?
Who can ever praise Him enough?
There is joy for those who deal justly with others and always do what is right.” Psalm 106:1-3
I sang this psalm this morning. I have found joy in the middle of shock and horror. Thanking him for long-time friends and new ones has kept me steadfast in the turbulence. Praising Him for His love and faithfulness with a friend walking through their dark valley keeps me close to Him. The summer of shock makes me thankful for the eternal gift of friendship.
May the Lord send you friends and scriptures that help you absorb the shock in your life whether it’s a bounced check, broken relationship or medical diagnosis. Hold tight to your friends. Open your Bible and cry out the psalms that David wrote in his chaos.