Finding a place to rest the things you shouldn’t ever speak aloud to anyone

The room gave off an air of coziness. I noticed the absence of office noise. My ears were grateful for the quiet. The coaster on the coffee table next to the couch where I plopped down paid homage to Freud.


ID EGO SUPEREGO


Of course. What did I expect? On my first visit several weeks ago, I had recognized that whoever arranged the office possessed a keen eye for detail. Details matter. At least, they do to me.

Where I work, it’s noisy. Constantly. The din of chatter never dies. My senses are overwhelmed when I get home, particularly my aural faculties. And then there’s the odor. By the end of the day, the distinct aroma of unsheltered humanity, and other unmentionable smells, has exhausted my nasal passages.

At that time Jesus prayed this prayer: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way! “My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Matthew 11:25-30 (NLT)

I’m here because I need to lay my burdens down.

He asks, “Do you journal?”

“Sporadically.” I shrug.

A small smile creases his lips. He nods. “By now you’ve realized that getting things out makes a difference. It has an impact.”

I nod.

“Journaling is one way to get these things you encounter every day out.”

“I have a blog.” I pause, considering my words. “I’ve found that blogging helps me release tensions I’m carrying even if I don’t always talk about what I experienced at work on a given day.”

“Why not?”

I thought about parroting back “why not what” but he deserved better than that. He had been helpful thus far along this journey. “There’s some things people don’t need to know. It’s enough that I know it. At least not the details. If I write about it, it’s usually only in a broad sense.”

“Why not the details?”

I paused. I knew he knew the answer. I don’t want them to have to go to counseling. too. “Habit, in part, I guess.”

“Because of your time serving as a chaplain?”

I nodded. Since leaving my gig as a workplace chaplain, I had spent the past fifteen to sixteen months working with a homeless ministry that works with the growing chronically unsheltered population of Dallas. Dallas leads the nation in the rate of growth it is seeing in homelessness. Our organization tries to demonstrate the love of Jesus as we strive to help people get out from under the street life. I’m responsible for various facets of the daily operations of our ministry. It’s hard work and not for the faint of heart.

“So it’s matter of continuing to keep confidences.” It was a statement, not a question.

After considering his statement, I responded. “Sure. What you tell me is between you and me. It’s your story. It’s yours to tell. It’s not for me to share it. It’s for you.”

“But, it’s good for you to put them somewhere.“

“Is it?” I studied his face. He had a kindness about him. He spoke with a gentleness I wished I could muster. Gentle speech isn’t my forte. He keeps good eye contact. He is methodical in the manner he pushes and pulls the conversation. If he’s leading me, it doesn’t feel like it.

“You know the benefit getting it off your chest provides. Like the story you shared with me earlier. You said it felt good to let it go. It brought you relief.”

“Yeah. And I didn’t have to tell it. Someone else did.”

“Hearing it relieved you.”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

I shrugged. “I don’t know.” Pause. “Now it’s out there and no longer in here.” I pound my clenched fist against my chest. “He left out an important detail.”

“Which was?”

“She held him down.”

He didn’t react. His body language told me he was preparing himself to hear the unthinkable. The unspeakable.

The thought of verbalizing it made it hard for me to breathe. Part of me didn’t want to give it voice. I cleared my throat. “She held him down.” I paused. “While his dad raped him. His mother held him down. And he endured this day after day after day from the time he was ten to the time he was thirteen. And then one day, he stabbed his old man. Stabbed him to death.” I fought back the tears. “And initially they gave him like a fifteen to twenty year sentence. But, turns out, his dad being the sick bastard that he was, had taped everything. Every single time he brutalized his son, he videotaped it.” I took in a gulp of air. “So they reduced his sentence to five years. Five years. He got five years for doing something he shouldn’t have ever had to do in the first place.” Pause. “And now he dresses like a woman.” Silence filled the space. We looked at each other eye to eye. “They were the two people he should have been able to trust the most.” I felt the rage inside me release like the steam from my Insta-Pot. A tear flowed down my cheek.

We sat motionless amid the quiet for a few minutes. He lifted his head with a nod. I could see the compassion in his eyes. He clenched his lips together before he spoke, likely thinking about his words carefully.

He said: “You don’t have to be perfect. Just write down what comes to your mind. Capturing every detail isn’t the point.”

“No, I suppose it’s not. The purpose is to get it out.”

“Right.” He nodded.

But, details matter, I said to myself.

“Do they?” my ID whispered to me.

May the Lord, our God, grant you the peace to accept the things you are unable to change, provide you with the courage to change the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference, as you live one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; taking this world as it is and not as you wish it might be. (Serenity Prayer, Reinhold Niebuhr)

Simply trust that the Lord will make all things right according to His good and sovereign will. I realize you may find this to be easier said than done. I encourage you to try. Whatever you do, don’t keep that stuff bottled up. It’s been my experience nothing good happens as a result of me holding onto things I wasn’t intended to hold onto in the first place. For me, writing serves as a release—a place to rest the things one shouldn’t ever speak aloud to anyone.

Blessings,

The Devotional Guy™

Bible Gateway

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To experience life the way God intended, you and I must receive God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. This gift from God is available to all who ask. Will you personally receive the gift of eternal life so that you can experience the total forgiveness from your sins that come through believing in the atoning death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ?

For nothing will be impossible with God.

(Luke 1:37)

9 Comments

  1. G.W. says:

    I know the feeling brother. I worked with the homeless/ drug/alcohol addicted for fourteen years in a setting much like yours. God bless your fortitude.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for this dose of encouragement. Blessings.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Reinhold Niebuhr – so grateful he penned his prayer!! truly!!!

    quite a few years back, now – when i was having PTSD CBT for childhood trauma (having buried those memories for 3 decades sufficiently well that not even I had remembered them until the point at which god allowed them to resurface) I looked up at one point, after I’d stopped trying to rip the heavy wood arm from the chair during one session, to see my therapist in tears as I recalled what had happened

    up to that point I still fought with the idea that what i’d endured as a 7 to 8 year old boy was all in my head; it couldn’t be real! could it?

    the tears of my therapist assured me my memory was, in fact, quite intact! i’m thrilled that my healing was so complete that she went on to work with children who had recently experienced similar abuse. i’m glad my pain, and healing, gave her courage to get even closer to the source and help as she was best able

    thanks for sharing this story. thanks for your service

    i can’t comprehend what you must see, hear, smell and feel, but I’m so grateful you serve God in this way.

    your brother

    Andy B

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing these insights and thoughts, Andy. Some stories are harder to tell than others, but hopefully people will benefit from reading them and perhaps grow closer to God in the process. Blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Amen. The details make us more human. We of course need to maintain confidences and anonymity. But, the truth is the truth, so let’s a shine a light on it

    Andy B

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Agreed. Thank God for His goodness and grace.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh, amen to that!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Gary Fultz says:

    After 10 years of youth confidences and “stories” I just washed out. With your post here I probably just buried the 10 year canister with no relief valve. It’s quite complicated isn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s very complicated and complex. Attrition takes its toll. I was talking about that with a couple of teammates just the other day who are worn out from ministry in general, and specifically from helping the homeless.
    Our organization offers a lot of helps (training and counseling) to assist us in staying in the game. But we realize it is likely only a few short seasons for many of our people. I think it is hard to sustain much past that. Even as you get resolution for some, a new wave arrives, desperate for help but not desperate enough to change.

    Liked by 2 people

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