In Case of Sudden Disaster, Grin!

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.

The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been. – Madeleine L'Engle

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

Quantum shift.

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!

My Full Story     What I Believe    Contact Me

With all my love,

Sue

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

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

laura August 15, 2014 at 12:45 am

I'm scared i wouldn't be able to handle a life in freedom,without abuse.If one day i manage to escape,i'm afraid i wouldn't have the independence skills necessary to survive.On another blog,i asked one woman how was her life at the shelter.She said it was tough,not an abuse sanctuary,not a luxury spa.I can't imagine a free life,where nobody puts me down.I dream about feeling safe,loved,protected,respected.How would it feel like? I picture taking my own decisions,without hearing:"You'll fail.That's not good for you.We know better."

I too don't understand why bad things happen to good people.I too wonder how my life would have been without abuse.That's where i get stuck.That's the point where my faith becomes weaker.Abusers do whatever they like,and god doesn't punish them.On the contrary,they seem to thrive and increase in numbers.God loves justice,but he sure takes his time to make things right.

Reply

Susan Schiller August 15, 2014 at 7:53 am

Hi Laura,

You ask the best questions – questions I never even thought to ask myself, back then. Your insight pierces the darkness. I want to answer you honestly and thoroughly, from my own experience, which seems to be the shared experience of so many others.

“Our story,” Laura… that means, you can step into my story at any time you like and call it your story, too. We are all One in the body and creation of our Creator. In reality, we are all part of His story and He’s like this amazing conductor and we’re in His symphony. It’s a story with dance, music, song, movement, colors, and action. 

All that you fear, I have endured. It’s as hard or harder than you fear. For me, it took many years, two decades. Other people give me the same time frame, when I have listened to their stories. Once you escape to freedom it’s like there are new mountains to climb, new levels to plummet, and new vistas to explore. 

I had a vision that describes this journey quite well at http://heartscribes.org/provision-follows-passion/. It was so real that it seemed I had already lived it, when I woke up. My dreams have greatly helped me to not only escape but to learn how to thrive. That is why I’ve been sharing my dreams in blog posts. 

One of my new friends, someone I met on my blog, read this dream/vision and she entered into it and FELT it, just as I did. Our stories blended into one, at that point. That’s the pure joy of sharing our stories, I think!

I’m going to answer your question with a blog post, Laura, because it deserves a thorough, honest answer. It may even be a series of posts, if it gets long, because your question is so very important. I wish I had asked that question, myself, so many years ago.

David, in Psalm 37 expresses how you feel about the wicked, who seem to get away with murder here in this hell-on-earth we live in. And I love Psalm 37, also Psalm 31… but my favorite is Psalm 73… because we get something out of this whole abuse thing that they totally miss out on: Intimacy! (I”ll be back later with a link to a post that answers your question better, Laura – there is a good ending!)

Psalm 73 The Message (MSG)

An Asaph Psalm

73 1-5 No doubt about it! God is good—

    good to good people, good to the good-hearted.

But I nearly missed it,

    missed seeing his goodness.

I was looking the other way,

    looking up to the people

At the top,

    envying the wicked who have it made,

Who have nothing to worry about,

    not a care in the whole wide world.

6-10 Pretentious with arrogance,

    they wear the latest fashions in violence,

Pampered and overfed,

    decked out in silk bows of silliness.

They jeer, using words to kill;

    they bully their way with words.

They’re full of hot air,

    loudmouths disturbing the peace.

People actually listen to them—can you believe it?

    Like thirsty puppies, they lap up their words.

11-14 What’s going on here? Is God out to lunch?

    Nobody’s tending the store.

The wicked get by with everything;

    they have it made, piling up riches.

I’ve been stupid to play by the rules;

    what has it gotten me?

A long run of bad luck, that’s what—

    a slap in the face every time I walk out the door.

15-20 If I’d have given in and talked like this,

    I would have betrayed your dear children.

Still, when I tried to figure it out,

    all I got was a splitting headache . . .

Until I entered the sanctuary of God.

    Then I saw the whole picture:

The slippery road you’ve put them on,

    with a final crash in a ditch of delusions.

In the blink of an eye, disaster!

    A blind curve in the dark, and—nightmare!

We wake up and rub our eyes. . . . Nothing.

    There’s nothing to them. And there never was.

21-24 When I was beleaguered and bitter,

    totally consumed by envy,

I was totally ignorant, a dumb ox

    in your very presence.

I’m still in your presence,

    but you’ve taken my hand.

You wisely and tenderly lead me,

    and then you bless me.

25-28 You’re all I want in heaven!

    You’re all I want on earth!

When my skin sags and my bones get brittle,

    God is rock-firm and faithful.

Look! Those who left you are falling apart!

    Deserters, they’ll never be heard from again.

But I’m in the very presence of God

    oh, how refreshing it is!

I’ve made Lord God my home.

    God, I’m telling the world what you do!

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Reply

Cyn Rogalski April 1, 2014 at 5:52 pm

This is a very thought-provoking post…I’ve been thinking about it since I first read it….and I’m searching for a pic of me when I was young. I seem to remember moments from my childhood, rather than longer spans of time. Interesting digging! Thank you for writing what God knows I need, exactly when I need to read it. May God continue to bless the work of your hands.

Reply

Susan Schiller April 1, 2014 at 7:16 pm

What an amazing blessing you are, Cyn! I hope you find just the right picture – and please share, if you feel comfortable – I would love to see it!

Reply

William OToole April 26, 2013 at 5:48 pm

What scares me.. NO one has ever asked me before so this will be interesting…

The 'jokey' part of me wants to jumop in and say 'Running out of energy drinks'

The serious part of me wants to answer this 'loss involving my kids'

I can deal with anything else.

Ouch… that hits home.

 

Reply

Susan McKenzie April 26, 2013 at 6:09 pm

Our children strike a very protective note in us, don’t they? Nothing could hurt worse, I think, than one of our children getting hurt or losing one of them…  Thanks for stopping in, William!

Reply

Susan McKenzie April 3, 2013 at 4:25 pm

I discovered this in my 2009 journal… a dream I recorded…

A young girl of about 7 years old visits our house church and testifies: "I died with Christ. That means I'm really dead to this world. Because Christ rose from the dead He took me with Him, so I don't have to be afraid anymore. I just close my eyes and remember where my Source of Life is, and it's far above the earth; it's far superior, a lot stronger than anything my human eyes have ever seen before.

Because I'd dead to this world, nothing can harm me. I just go above and then beneath me it changes because I can command blessings and curses."

"Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. ~ Matthew 18:18

Reply

Carrie Medford April 3, 2013 at 1:15 pm

What an incredible story. Truly, I have no words. ((HUGS))

Reply

Susan McKenzie April 3, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Hi Carrie… thank you for your kind words – they go a LONG way! (((HUGS to you!)))

Reply

Anne Friston April 3, 2013 at 11:21 am

Wow, what an incredible story, Susan.  It's very brave of you to open your life up but I agree that this can be extremely theraputic.  I'm so glad your story has a happy ending.

Reply

Susan McKenzie April 3, 2013 at 11:27 am

I believe we create our own happiness, no matter what the ending may look like, in reality. You are very kind to stop by, Anne, and I thank you for your encouragement!

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Yetunde April 3, 2013 at 9:16 am

I quite agree that sharing one's story can be therapeutic and aids the healing process. I have come to understand that the storms we pass through are not only for ourselves, but to encourage others through similar storms when they pass through theirs.  – He comforts us in our troubles, so we can comfort others 2 Corin 1:4.
Thank you for sharing your story…Mine is in the making too.
Oh you were such a pretty 3 year old. Your faith has definitely helped you through.

Reply

Susan McKenzie April 3, 2013 at 9:56 am

Thanks for your kind words, Yetunde… blessings on your day!

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Susan McKenzie April 2, 2013 at 8:04 pm

“Moving on can’t be forced or rushed. Yet from the moment you begin to deal with the abuse, people will urge you to hurry up & “put it in the past.” There will be times you want to move on as well—simply because healing is so painful. But moving on to avoid the pain or to please others is an escape. Real moving on is the natural result of fully living through each step of the healing process.” Beginning to Heal by Ellen Bass & Laura Davis

Reply

Jon R. Patrick April 2, 2013 at 7:32 pm

What an amazing and uplifting story… thanks for sharing!

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Susan McKenzie April 2, 2013 at 8:06 pm

Thanks, Jon – thanks for sharing 🙂

Reply

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