In Case of Sudden Disaster, Grin!
By: Susan Deborah Schiller
"I'm grooming you to grin in the face of disaster," said Papa God as I made my daily fear-dump in a worn out leather journal. Escaping a cult-church and an abusive husband at the same time had left me isolated, wrestling the growing pack of fear monsters in the basement of my mind.
Don't be afraid of sudden terror or destruction caused by the wicked, when it comes; – Proverbs 3:25
I need to go back in Time, to reset my fear-o-meter. There is a young lady who knew just such a Person walked beside her and she knew NO FEAR! In fact, she grinned in the face of disaster.
I step back into Time, to my age three me…
Speeding across the Interstate I listened my parents' alarmed whispers. My mom kept glancing out the back window of our sedan and I could see she was quite concerned. My dad's face was grim as he punched the accelerator to the floor.
A black tornado was angrily ripping up the field, racing right toward us!
"Mommy, why are you scared?" I asked, leaning toward the front seat.
"Susan, there's a tornado chasing us. Sit back!"
"Why are you afraid? Jesus is right here!" I replied, my face registering a peace and confidence that my mother still remembers vividly, to this day.
We need to remember who we are, because in Heaven's perspective there is no linear time. We are every age, all the time.
Can I become like my 3-year old self again? Does God really expect me to grin in the face of disaster? Is that realistic, in a world where we are daily hit with news of impending disasters?
I don't need newspapers to raise my own alarms. To date, I've faced:
- An almost seven-foot tall man whose two eyes were bouncing in separate directions, his legs and arms flaying, and his voice threatening to rape me. We were at church and I called to my pastor for help and he replied, "Go, girl, go!" It was expected that I could handle the situation on my own.
- A little later I ran into the same man in a parking lot and he yelled to me that he was on his way home to murder his wife and kids. I stood in front of his van door and said, "No, you're not going to do any such thing!" I held his gaze, managing to stay calm, and he backed down, promising to go get help.
- At home, my husband often painted gory scenarios of mutilating my body and then putting a bullet in the back of my head. He described my body falling into the deep rock quarries near our house.
- Two of my friends died mysteriously within a few months of each other, and there were clues I would be the next victim of "accidental" death. We were all involved in uncovering some serious problems in our church.
- Nightly being taken in the wee hours of the morning for interrogations by my husband… designed to wear me down, wear me out. Daily subjugation tactics.
- Hearing, "I'm not going to divorce you. I just want to watch you suffer..." after years of being his 24/7 caretaker following a spinal cord injury. It hits you very deep with shock and trauma. For me it led to being homeless.
Me, at age 50, homeless and living in a borrowed camper along the Big Horn River.
Not a grin, but I nearly smiled. Some people say this is their favorite picture of me. I did feel at peace.
It was as if a giant had smashed his hand across my face, ripping off my identity, and snapping my spine at the neck. I felt paralyzed, naked, and abandoned. A part of me just wanted to die and get it over with, but there was this new side to myself – my true self – that was just beginning to reclaim her soul!
Living through a period of physical, sexual, or severe emotional abuse can leave psychic wounds that can be harder to heal than a bodily injury. ~ Silvia M Dutchivici MA, LCSW
It was during that part of my journey that I came to accept that our church was a cult. I learned about "Stockholm Syndrome" and "Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome" and "Smear Campaigns" and "Gaslighting" and more. I learned how to spot predators in the pulpit.
I can't explain evil, but I've seen it face-to-face. I can't say that I've grinned yet, but I'm aiming in that direction!
But the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them. – Psalm 2:4
But the Lord just laughs, for he sees their day of judgment coming. – Psalm 37:13
But LORD, you laugh at them. You scoff at all the hostile nations. – Psalm 59:8
Who is this God that laughs at his enemies, who is so confident of Himself that He could send His only begotten son to a world ruled by religious and political sociopaths who would terrorize Him, beat Him, and kill Him?
What am I to learn from this, in respect to "grinning in the face of disaster"?
Here's what my three year-old self tells me, "Don't be afraid of a downturn in the economy or that your retirement is just around the corner and you don't yet have $1.5 million saved up! Don't be afraid of what can happen to your family and friends. Just look at Him! He's walking on the waves and the storm has to obey His command. Don't you know He's expecting you to do the same?"
“If you knew who walked beside you at all times… you could never experience fear or doubt again.” ~ Wayne Dyer
I look ahead, to my age 93 self. And I use my imagination to ask her what she thinks about my situation today. With the most beautiful smile, she waves her hands in the air, as if to say,
"Poof! I learned at your age, 40 years ago, to look beyond my problems and to listen to the conversation in Heaven. I used what I heard to disarm the enemy's plans and to turn it around. Once the enemy figured out I could turn it around and bring a double portion into my lap, he just quit sending shock and trauma my way. And by the way, darling, I don't feel 93. I'm so glad I learned to take care of myself when I was your age!"
I refuse to think like a victim. And I'm learning to take better care of myself: body, soul, and spirit!
Your turn: What scares you? What does that show you, about the unique life message you have to share with your world?
Maybe that will show up in the title of your memoir! Writing to freedom begins wherever you wish to begin. Call it soup. You throw a little story in here, a little photo there… and as you simple do the work your story begins to make sense. Your true self unfolds the longer you write!
With all my love,
Susan Schiller knows how it feels to lose everything: marriage and family, church and reputation, finances and businesses, and more. Susan's upcoming, interactive memoir, "On the Way Home," tells the story of how she came to be known as "the most abused woman" her counselors had yet met and how she learned to navigate to freedom and fullness.
Today Susan helps people write their life stories, unearthing the treasures of their past and sowing them into their future, creating new family legacies.
Copyright © 2010 to 2016 Team Family Online, All rights reserved. For reprint permission or for any private or commercial use, in any form of media, please contact Susan Schiller.