I still haven’t finished the book. It was literally years ago when I started reading Judith Tebbutt’s, “A Long Walk Home: One Woman’s Story of Kidnap, Hostage, Loss – And Survival”. I just stopped reading it one day, partly because I had assumed I knew how it would end. It is a true story about the author being captured by Somali pirates. She shares her ordeal and her survival. I convinced myself that I knew all I needed to know – she is captured, she survives, and she is home, the end. But somehow this Easter has inspired me back to this book. Rereading it, I see now there is so much more to the story. More than the despair, the loneliness, the betrayal, the agony, and the grief; she found hope every day in imagining her return home. Despite the reality of her situation, each day she practiced this commitment. She remained alert to any and every signal within her small space that this promise is true. That is the gift of Easter.
“We all got stuff” is what I always say. Some of our “stuff” is heavier than others. But it is all “stuff”. That is a guarantee of life. Many of us believe it is our “stuff” that is the problem. But I am suggesting to you that it is more likely our belief in our “stuff” and its power over us that may be the problem. We imagine that it will destroy us, whether emotionally, mentally, physically or otherwise. Understandably, we may lash out, run, our even stand paralyzed in it when confronted with anything that looks like, smells like, sounds like, or feels like our “stuff”. In clinical terms, fight, flight, or freeze are protective when the body perceives danger. But these same trauma responses can be debilitating, interfering with healthy functioning when the response is not in line with reality.
Apparently, simply just reading about the author’s trauma discouraged me. My previous experiences somewhere along the way assured me that I did not need to read any further. I did not want to. But avoiding the apparent anxiety that came up for me denied me the benefit of the rest of the story. For these years that I had refused to turn another page, I had missed out on the how of the story. I know she survived, but it is only in reading the story, that I learn how she did it. Only in living through it do I discover my power to not only survive it, but to move through it to the other side. Similarly, as much as we think fighting or avoiding our pain is protecting us, it is likely prolonging our suffering and denying us the opportunity to live our lives differently – guided by hope instead of fear.
Step Two of Alcoholics Anonymous probably says it best – Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. “Whether agnostic, atheist, or former believer, we can stand together on this Step. True humility and an open mind can lead us to faith…”
No matter your trauma or your “stuff”, faith is one factor toward resiliency and healing. Easter reminds us that even Jesus had help in carrying His cross. Easter is a suggestion to have hope. What you are seeking is already here. Do not be afraid. Hold your head up, not down so that you can see it in front of you. Easter is an invitation to have your heart and your hands open, not clenched, so you are ready to receive it. You are what it is waiting for.