Oh, I remember alright what this day five years ago represented. It was a Monday meeting at 1pm—in a hostile territory that should have been friendly.
It should not have been billed as Mission Impossible, but those were the stakes presented. A spiritual battle lay waste to any hope that sensible business could take place that day.
Moments like this—the actual minute—for me, 1.17pm—become etched into our psyches. Moments when what was anticipated actually begins to take place. A horrendous trajectory initiated.
What do we do when a mission of extraordinarily impossible odds breaks through the ether and thunders into the peace of our reality to wreak inestimable havoc? It can and does happen—to all of us.
Sometimes what happens could never have been predicted. At other times, we can see the devastation coming from some way off. But the effects in both situations leave us reeling for an effective, satisfactory response. Our best response at the time hardly seems sufficient, yet as we look back it was, because it was all we had.
The object of this article is not so much about suggesting ways to get through, as if set ways even exist; but it’s to encourage us all to gather the courage of poise in the moment, and to make meaning from what comes afterward.
I remember a few other moments of these kinds of proportions. Strangely, the moments of meeting Nathanael, stillborn, and the moments surrounding his funeral and our goodbyes weren’t traumatic though they were incredibly sad. The several moments I’ve experienced that were impossible to reconcile were infinitely harder than even the moments of cataclysmic sorrow.
How do we contend in those moments that seem to leave us strewn in a mess on the wake left behind us? Well, we survived them, didn’t we? No matter what these moments cost us, we do live to tell the tale, and to tell the tale is important; what happened was real and needs to be recognised for how it was.
I recall walking out of a mediation that went horribly wrong, where I hadn’t been kept safe at all; again, another minute etched into my psyche where life stood still—3.44pm, on February 25, 2016. I’m thankful that those moments are few and far between. I’m thankful that the entire year of 2016 is long gone. And I’m thankful that I not only survived that hugely testing year, I thrived as a result. That moment was one of the hardest I’ve ever faced, in supposed safety (and when ‘safe’ environments aren’t safe when we’re vulnerable, abuse tends to occur), and yet I look back and cannot help noticing the faithfulness of God who was there with me throughout.
What do we do to hold ourselves in these moments of overwhelm?
To begin with, we remind ourselves that we made it through. For those who are reading who’ve not been through such trials, take counsel of the faith. It simply works. Besides, there is no alternative. Would we rather capitulate? No, that is no option!
We must contend as the psalmist contends in Psalm 35. We fight the good fight of faith, even if that fight isn’t about fighting but surviving.
Finding a way to get through what feels impossible to reconcile at the time is mostly about knowing ‘this too, shall pass,’ and that the objective is to hold composure.
Getting through what anyone would consider an impossible moment just adds to the valour we see in ourselves—the courage that knows we can experience and survive such moments, especially because we’re not alone.
Some moments are full of trauma and the effects as well as the triggers become us. When we cannot reconcile a moment, we have many moments henceforth to make meaning enough to count. All this becomes fruit for learning and overcoming.
When moments dissolve into the territory of ‘this too, shall pass’, when we strain and seem to lose every sign of hope, let’s call on the truth that as each second passes, new possibilities remain as real and fervent hopes for the coming future that beckons, even now.