It is so good to talk to someone who can hear you right away. Someone you do not have to explain yourself to because they can hear deeper than the surface, and it is because they have been there.
Today a friend came up to Jake and me to see how we are doing since we have moved. He asked if there had been a crisis of faith yet after being somewhere so long and our identities had been built there in a lot of ways. This is where Jake and I are having slightly different experiences, but at the same time finding deeper gratitude than we ever could before because of what we have been through. A trauma therapist told me not to give trauma any credit for this healing. We are choosing to heal. Trauma does not deserve any credit because it is the reason we are having to choose to heal. We are doing the work, not the trauma. But, I have learned through reading lots of spiritual books and through seminary, for whatever reason, suffering seems to be a part of the journey. It comes to you at some point no matter what. The book of Revelation makes more sense when you realize this. It is not a matter of if the trauma is coming, it is when. Have your faith in place before it comes because it is going to rock your world. Persevere anyway.
Revelation is also an anti-imperialist apocalyptic letter. The United States would not find itself on the friendly receiving end of that letter if we existed then, but that is another convo for another day.
I am having a slightly harder time than Jake is, but it is not because I wish we could go back. I love it here so much. Every day I wake up and cannot believe I get to live in Norman again. I truly am loving it so much. What I am struggling with though is identity, and this friend named it. He appreciated my honesty—if I am anything, I am honest—and he shared his experience with me. He told me to call him any time. He told me this is a wilderness time and I do not have to walk it alone. How kind is that?
Jake had been pretty much invisible the last few years we were in Texas. He worked quietly behind the scenes asking for nothing in return for a long time. But he was beginning to notice how under-appreciated he was the last year before things just went horribly wrong. It was such a shock to the system how fast a system can turn on you when you have not been making any noise and someone decides to target you. We need smarter systems in place seeking to understand the problems we are facing. That was unbelievable, and everyone I have talked to within the system knows it. That is a call for change now kind of moment.
The last few years was when I was finally finding my own identity. I was no longer the quiet one. It was not easy by any means. There is a lot of unrealized pain that surfaces when you start realizing you have value after all and can be seen. But even in the newness of community, there is still so much mistrust. I am not resentful of it anymore. I get it. I had to learn to trust too. When our systems are strong, people will thrive. I was able to thrive because I found places that believed in me. So I was blooming and Jake was getting torn down.
We should be more critical of our systems instead of people. We are breaking people. People cannot bear the weight of a toxic system. I can bear witness to the power of a community that believes in you and does not assume you might be the worst possible version of a human being. We work together to course correct and learn from one another. Reciprocity is the only way for a system to be healthy.
I think this is why going home has been so important for both of us. To go back to our roots and see the people who have always known us. Who never once questioned if we could be trusted or asks for anything from us to receive this abundant love we are now receiving without question.
I was talking to another friend who is also experiencing how invisible they are to a system that counts on their help for free and for no credit. They are learning to say no. It is so hard for them because they like helping, but they are seeing it is not helping things after all.
I think this wilderness time for me is really important. It is part of the training, I would venture to say. Martin Luther King Jr. said we will remember the silence of friends, not the noise of our enemies. Mr. Rogers says in a crisis to look for the helpers.
In my reading of “Rest is Resistance,” maybe I can take the wisdom from both of these men and the wisdom of this book and ask this:
What are we going to do when the helpers go silent? When the only sound one will hear is “no” until there is change.