Lori Colbo loves to write about her Christian faith and the Bible to encourage and inspire others.
We are told not to live in the past, and that is good advice. But I have found reflecting on the past for the purpose of seeing how far you've come and how God showed up for you, even when you didn't know it is a very good idea. Such reflection brings about a heart full of gratitude, a confident hope for the future, and rejoicing for the lessons and spiritual growth born from that journey. When we can do this, we can move forward and traverse the mountains and valleys ahead knowing that God is with us through every season of our lives.
This poem is a testament to my journey to wholeness after years of struggle with PTSD. How did I get there? It wasn't easy because I was so broken that I couldn't see God through all the mess. It's not that I didn't believe in God or know Him Christ as my Savior, I most definitely did. I just got lost in my searing pain and anxiety. There were seasons of numbness, where I just existed. I went through times of depersonalization and derealization - a state of detachment from who I was and life around me; something that is too difficult to describe. Those were in the early days when the onslaught of memories assaulted me. I am grateful beyond words for the friends who came alongside me, prayed for, and ministered to me. They saw God and hope when I couldn't.
I made some bad choices along the way. I went through a passive phase in therapy. I didn't try the tools given to me. "Fix me," was my attitude. I had a wonderful therapist who finally had to say goodbye because I was not working at recovery. A few months later I sent her a thank you card. I had attention-seeking moments, I had some physically destructive behaviors. Slowly but surely, I began to work at things, to advocate for myself, to care, to struggle in a positive way. Climbing a mountain is a struggle. But you have a goal, a purpose, a victory ahead, and you trudge your way, step by step. The missing ingredient was trusting God, calling out to Him. Four years ago I had a life-threatening emotional crisis. Alone in my house, I said "Oh God help me, save me, send me someone to come alongside me." It was a simple prayer. I didn't need eloquence and long drawn out petitions, just "help." Despite the severity of my despondency, there was also an inexplicable sense of God's presence. The bible says to rejoice in our sufferings (Romans 5:3), and to count it all joy when you face various trials (James 1:2). Many people find those verses baffling. How can one rejoice when they are suffering? That certainly was unfathomable to me until that day I said "Help me, God." The joy was not of the "whoopee I'm suffering" variety. It's not that my suffering left me in that moment. It was as acute as before I said that simple prayer. The joy was an inexplicable, tangible knowledge of God's presence. A sense of hope.
Wouldn't you know it, in the next 24 hours, God answered my prayers in amazing ways. Absolutely took my breath away (why do we always marvel when God answers prayer?). I was not healed or relieved of my pain, but God sent two people to come to my aid. I had asked Him for a specific therapist to come back into my life, or someone like her. But He used another person I barely knew first. He was a professional and I reached out to him via email. He called me and shared his struggle with depression. It settled me down a bit and I was deeply touched. The very next day, the therapist called me. She had left the clinic 18 months before. Turns out, she returned and it was her first day back and she was on the crisis team. The man I spoke to the day before called the crisis team at the clinic, not knowing who she was, that I wanted to see her. He was just calling for help for me She was a believer and was able to give me spiritual counsel as well as regular therapy. With God's help, I found freedom in a few years. I am no longer in therapy. I feel whole and healed.
Thanks be to God.
His Footsteps of Mercy
Memories came out of nowhere
While I was just living life;
They battered me, shattered me,
And I lost who I was;
"I am someone else," I told them;
But I did not know who.
I was numb, outside myself;
"Oh God, Who am I? Where am I?"
I was lost at sea,
And I wanted to say goodbye.
Harrowing dreams night after night,
And I cried out, "Let me go."
They ravaged me, they shackled me,
And I could not flee;
"I can’t see You Father," I said.
"Are You there? Anywhere?"
I was afraid, I was alone.
"Oh God, answer me, come arise."
But I could not hear,
I did not think I could survive.
Recollections of little me,
A tiny girl only four;
They abused me, they misused me,
And I was so helpless;
I went someplace else, in my mind;
I flew up to the sky,
I went beyond, outside of time;
"Oh God, reach for me, take my hand."
The sky was so blue,
I was in God’s heavenly land.
The journey to wholeness was long,
Struggling through blood sweat and tears;
I faltered much, I clawed and clutched;
One day my eyes opened,
I saw His footsteps of mercy,
A vessel held my tears,
Cherished like sweet sacred treasures;
"Oh God, You’ve been here, all along,
You’re my living hope,
And my life is a brand new song."
© 2021 Lori Colbo