Wednesday, January 20, 2010

When the horse bucks you off

In many ways, when I lost my dad, I felt like I had been riding a wild horse in life and I got bucked off. It hurt, really bad, and left me quite shaken. I wouldn't say I was afraid to get back on; I actually just lost all desire to ride the wild horse. I watched it run off into the horizon, and I mourned it at first, but then I was glad it ran away. It made my life more bearable, at least for the time being. I guess I could identify with the wild horse, since I'd always seen myself as someone who was wired to live life on the edge. But in the aftermath and depression of grieving my dad's death (and numerous secondary losses), I no longer saw myself as either on a wild horse or as the wild horse. I felt I'd been broken, tamed, set off to graze in the pasture. And I think I had come to accept that, even to assimilate it into my newfound identity.

And then devastation hit Haiti. I was presented with an opportunity to go be a part of relief work in Haiti that I would have jumped on two years ago, and I felt the tension inside me between my "old" identity and my "new" one. Much to my surprise, it didn't take me long to jump inwardly at this chance to be working with people in severe trauma. I've found myself over the past few days growing more and more excited, soberly, at the possibility that lies before me. Like a horse in a corral, I could envision myself pawing the ground, desiring to be set free to run. But then, also to my surprise, the anxiety and lack of confidence started to set in. I've felt skiddish, unsure of myself, wondering, am I capable of this, am I even ready? Is this really wise when I've had no preparation or experience outside of my schooling for suffering of this magnitude?

And then I thought of the horse that had bucked me off. I thought of how much I've grown since then as a person, through my own suffering, and also of how much I've laid aside. I thought of myself, continuing at Starbucks, unsure of where to go from here, unsure if a horse ran up to me if I would have the confidence to grab hold of it and climb back on. And I thought, I've never been the type of person to "work my way" up to a task; I just take a flying leap. If I go to Haiti, I would be jumping back on the wildest horse in the pack after not having ridden for a year and a half. Like going from zero to a hundred and sixty in three seconds flat. Is that wise? I'm not sure. But it may be the only way for me.

You see, at the risk of sounding selfish, I'm beginning to think I may need to go to Haiti as much, if not more, than they would need me there personally. Do I have something to offer that would be useful to people in trauma? Yes. I have some understanding of trauma, I have a compassionate heart that loves people and has walked through my own losses, and most of all, I have the Spirit of Christ in me. I have the hope of the gospel. I have the ability to sit in silence with people and let them be, to cry with them, to pray for them, to hold them, to be a strength to lean on. But mostly, I've got to be honest, I think I need to get back on this horse more than my help is actually needed in Haiti.

Please pray for me, that I would have the wisdom and courage to do whatever it is God desires, to follow His lead. Haiti or not, it is unnervingly encouraging to find myself reawakening to things that God built into my heart long ago. They may be more matured now, and they may look rather different than before, but I know one thing about myself: I was never meant to be tamed.

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