Friday, December 23, 2016

From darkness to light, PTSD to joy

I'm sitting at my desk in my new office preparing to head out for the holiday weekend. I have to admit it -- I'm tired. This month has been a whirlwind of activities and emotions and my mind and body are fighting me at this point. And as of right now, I've not wrapped a single present.

This past Saturday, we had some things happen that triggered a bit of the PTSD that still lingers from my husband's death in 1989 when there was a chemical explosion/flash fire where he worked. Since then, I struggle with fireworks and anything that resembles an explosion. 

On Saturday night, around 9:00, I was in my kitchen when I heard an explosion. We lost power immediately. Then, as I looked out the back window, a second explosion. Then from the front of the house, two more. The house shook. Light bulbs exploded. Fear gripped me. I was terrified. Power lines were coming down and transformers were on fire. Bill and I didn't know what would happen next. I grabbed a flashlight and went up to my office where I turned off my power strips, wondering if I was too late to save my equipment. Bill turned off everything else, just in case we had a power surge if the power was restored. We didn't have to worry about that, however, because the neighborhood remained dark and cold throughout the night. For hours, firefighters trudged up and down our steps, checking everything to ensure our house wasn't at risk for catching on fire.

The next morning, I went to my daughter's for the day, curling iron and makeup in tow. Bill remained at the house hoping something would be resolved. The electric company gave us varying reports, which included the need for everyone to have their houses checked by electricians before they would turn the power back on. Bill called someone from the Yellow Pages who offered 24/7 one-hour emergency service. He said he might be able to send someone out, but it would be tough since it was a Sunday. Umm... what does 24/7 mean exactly? Then he proceeded to say the cost for the service call would be between $500 and $1,000 and went on to explain what would be needed (new breaker box, new lines, etc. -- this without seeing what was wrong, just based on the information my husband provided). The total cost would be around $5,000. Bill called me. He was sick. 

I proceeded to put our dilemma on Facebook and one of our friends from church contacted me and asked what he could do. I said, "Unless you can restore our electricity, not much." Shortly thereafter, Bill received a phone call from him, informing him that an electrician was on his way. End result of everything, power was back on that night and the cost to us was zero. 

In the meantime, some of our neighbors did not fare as well and were without power for a few days. Our main breaker blew, which saved much of our equipment. We lost some Christmas lights, a television, some light bulbs, and our garage door opener. We were lucky. Others lost computers, printers, tankless hot water heaters, and more. For us, it was mostly an inconvenience.

Except for that whole PTSD thing for me. I'm edgier and cry easily right now. I'm tense. But I know it will all ease up with time. 

Yesterday, I helped a single dad who was having a heart attack. He was frightened and as we waited for the ambulance, he kept saying, "I'm too young for this." Yes, he is. And it served as another reminder about the brevity and fragility of life. I can only pray he's doing fine now.

As we approach the celebration of the Christ child's birth, let's focus on how that one event changed history. God became man and lived with us. He's not a distant CEO who dwells in a mansion and makes decisions that affect people's lives and families without any concept of what their lives are like. No. He dwelt among us. He felt our pain and our loss and our fears and our temptations. He chose to walk the road with us. The road that ultimately led to the cross where he chose to die for us in order for us to live. Christmas may be the beginning of the story, but it is in no way the end. And for that reason, and that reason alone, I have cause to rejoice. Despite my pain and my loss and my fears and my temptations. I choose joy, even if there are tears running down my cheeks. Joy transcends emotions.

Wishing you the peace that passes all understanding during this holy season. 

Merry Christmas!


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