Self Care In A Pandemic (23): Better or Bitter….How Can You Use This Experience For Good?

I’m sure I’m not alone in being someone who has had adverse childhood experiences that have shaped me throughout my life in some way or another. For me, my experiences have included racism from a very young age, fear, anxiety, and the trauma that comes from physical, mental, verbal, and emotional abuse from my peer groups at school and in my neighbourhood growing up (“bullying” is such a tame word for what as an adult would be considered hate crime, physical assault, emotional manipulation and so forth), leaving me feeling crushed, broken, worthless, despised, disgusting, rejected and in so much pain and self-hatred (which was from the lies I was told about myself that I internalised as ‘reality’) that I no longer wanted to live.

Fast forward years of shyness, insecurity, fear of other people, withdrawal, depression, anxiety, an emotional breakdown, getting help, a course of medicine, trauma psychology, God’s loving restoration, new and positive friendships, and a lot of ongoing work on my part, and I am able to see things with greater perspective and not be in a constant state of breakdown, fight, flight, freeze or panic. It has been a long road, friends and it is an ongoing one.

I have ‘mentors’ who have helped me to follow my God-given desire to not allow these experiences to defeat me, but instead to be used as a source for healing for myself, and for good in the world and hopefully to help some other struggling soul find a greater insight into their worth as a human being and find empowerment even as I continue to discover these things for myself. My blog is a big part of this, as humble an effort as it may be, if you could see me back then as a broken and defeated child, then this is a miracle of God’s grace.

So, my friends, my question to you is, ‘what’s been eating you?’ and what are you doing with it? It may be a long road, but we do have the power of choice to allow it to make us better or bitter. Life can be unfair. This pandemic feels so unfair for so many people going through the worst of it. But what about you? What are the things that you are wrestling with today, in your life, in this season?

I have found inspiration and courage in my journey as I mentioned above, from my ‘mentors’. Maybe you’re thinking, wouldn’t it be great to have a mentor, and that I am somehow privileged to have these people in my life. But let me just clarify that I have never met these people, I have read their biographies, I have watched documentaries about them and I have followed them on You Tube, but something deep in their life stories, their strength to find the courage to keep going in extremely dark and tough circumstances is a testimony to me. These two ladies are Katie Piper, and Lizzie Velazquez and they have no idea that I exist! I also look up to Nic Vuijicic and there are so many more people from history and from present day that we can look to and people who I take inspiration from. Ultimately, my Source of sources of The most humble and yet greatest Overcomer, Is My LORD and King, Christ Jesus. Yet, I find something too in the stories of mere mortals to whom I can relate in our broken and fallen state.

So, back to you, my friends.

What is your experience of life at the moment? What is your experience of life in the pandemic? Are you feeling stuck in your struggles? Then lift your eyes to the reality that no matter how bad things have been or can get, life is full of overcomers, and you are one of them too.

It’s maybe not what you want to hear if you are in the place of suffering, and please hear me, I’ve been there. Who could possibly understand your pain, your experiences, who but you? Who but God? Christ Jesus knows, He loves. Yet whatever you believe, the thing is to dig deep. Overcoming only rarely happens in a flash, in an instant. For the most part, it is small, incremental, determined choices that have greatest effect when they stem from some greater vision.

I needed, in my pain, in my broken sobbing, in my frustration and anger and feeling the screwed up unfairness of it all of being victimised, and tormented by other people, to know that somehow there would be a meaning, a purpose, a future from it. Because without that, the ‘out’ we seek is death, and longing for the pain to just go away. Yet, friends, our paths have somehow converged to meet here today, and we meet with hope. There is a future, there is a greater plan, and there is a purpose, and if you feel hopeless, helpless and purposeless, I urge to to look to Jesus Christ, the One Who Redeems all things in time, and even if you aren’t there yet, then look to the examples of others who have overcome.

Ask yourself, what can make this better for you? Ask yourself whether you want to be like Miss Havisham from Dickens’ Great Expectations, or whether you want to challenge the unfairness of life with refreshed vision and renewed hope.

I wrote down my vision that I wanted good to come out of my suffering and pain. I wanted to be able to be more than a victim, and I wanted to reach out and help lift someone else up ….someday. At the time, in my brokenness, it was all but an impossible dream. How could the helpless become the helper? Small steps forward everyday, by God’s grace, I have this blog, I can use words to help, encourage, inspire and heal, when for most of my growing up, words were used against me to mock, belittle, shame, hurt, curse and destroy me. We can live out our turnarounds. If I can, you can. Look up Katie Piper, Lizzie Velazquez, Nic Vujicic. Look up the more well known names of history who stood up against racism even at such great cost to themselves, look up those who discovered great things even though they were ostracised in their time, look up those who overcame disabilities, read about the lives of Helen Keller, Rosa Parks, find your own ‘mentors’ and discover your vision.

What are you going to do with your difficult experiences of the pandemic?

Are you struggling as a parent? Can you have a future vision to create some support network for others like you – even if that vision is for something in years to come, can you start small by sending an encouraging text to an anxious parent that you know?

Are you battling mental health issues? Can you have a future vision of being an ambassador for mental health issues by taking the first and often most difficult of steps by admitting you need help and reaching out to ask for it?

What is it that is challenging you right now? I believe that you are far better than choosing to be bitter. Take one small step, and seek for the greater Vision. And ask yourself, how can this make me better, and how can I make things better….even if the fruit of that will take years of small, determined and incremental steps of faith to appear? x

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