I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
A traumatic event – whether it was emotional, physical or spiritual – stops you in that point of time and life. Like a falcon on the wind, it tethers you to the ground. Like Peter Pan’s shadow, the darkness cast by the event takes on a life of its own.
We call this shadow Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Clinging to this shadow is the stench of death, the betrayal of friends, and the loss of family. You seem to carry it with you no matter where you go. Its darkness taints every relationship and bleeds the very color out of life.
How do you get through this?
By putting one foot in front of the other.
You got through the trauma, whatever it was. It’s in the past. Done with. Now you are walking through its shadow.
It is only a shadow. Yes, it has very real physical effects: nightmares, anxiety attacks, irritable bowel syndrome, rashes, twitches, and sudden rages. But you can get through this. One step at a time.
There are things you choose to do which can worsen the effects; all of which are actually forms of self-punishment: alcohol and substance abuse, dangerous sexual alliances, loosing control of your emotions, gambling, running away. These punishments will only prolong your journey in the darkness.
Do you remember the endless marches and drills of boot camp – mind-numbing, physically exhausting, and seemingly without purpose? Your Sarg kept you going by yelling, “Don’t think. Don’t whine. Don’t ask why. Just march.” And he got you through. You became something greater than you once were. You became a soldier.
You have a long march ahead of you through the valley of the shadow of PTSD. Be your own Drill Sarg and force yourself to put one foot in front of the other.
Don’t think. Don’t whine. Don’t ask why. Just march.
And don’t ever give up.
Do you remember when your march was the hardest? It was when you were climbing a hill. But know that where the hill begins, the valley ends.
Once you finish this walk Through the Valley of the Shadow of PTSD, you become something greater than you once were.
You can do this.
Help us to see beyond the everyday steps to the glory you have provided for us. And for those times when we are blinded by impatience, help us to just trust you to place our feet where You want them to go. Help us to live day by day, step by step, and march through this valley. Amen.