When I first read the following quote from the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin (Harriet Beecher Stowe) it was a revelation. The implications of what she was saying rolled over and over in my mind. Here is the quote in somewhat quaint old English--
"When the heart strings are suddenly cut, it is, I believe, a physical impossibility to feel faith or resignation. There is a revolt of the instinctive and animal system and though we may submit to God, it is rather by constant painful effort than sweet attraction." Harriet Beecher Stowe
Stowe is describing what is now commonly understood as a trauma response— your brain enters a fog and your feelings and thoughts are dulled by the impact of what has happened.
She talks about not being able to feel faith. I translate this to the difficulty I have in tough times. I find it hard to feel the presence of God around me even though I have walked in Faith that He is real and personally interested in my life (which is what Jesus taught).
I think what Stowe is describing is that our instincts are designed to kick in with the fog to protect us from the potential harm of feelings too big for us to process.
In those moments we still get to choose. I choose to say "Yes, welcome" to God's presence. I choose to give room to the tears that brim. I choose to share with a friend even though I sound like a bit of a babbler. I choose to stop trying to keep up with some things in life that are options and give myself space and time to be silent. Sometimes I even choose to say to God, "I know with my head that you are good but I don't feel it right now and I find my faith falling short of that goal. I can't actually say "you are good" right now. And I can't fix that. Go ahead and change that if you want to—or can."
Harriet Beecher Stowe tells us that it is painful to make this choice. She acknowledges that there is a world of discomfort or frustration or disappointment inside the fog we find ourselves in.
If you are in a crisis or the wake of a crisis and you feel like the fog has closed in around you...maybe there is another way to see that. Maybe the fog is a gift. And maybe in the fog there is MORE of God's presence, even though it feels the other way around. And maybe you choose to just say "yes" and trust that God can do everything else. Even though it is a stretch—it's a simple yes, but maybe the hardest yes you've ever said.
Because this "yes" is what grace is all about. We say "yes" to what we believe is the ultimate power of love—our Creator. And God, who is still a mystery to us at the best of times, does what God does best.
God cannot help but hold us with love. We are his beloved children.
"For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock." Psalm 27:5
I write on how humans develop and grow through challenges we face. I've divided this into three categories--Growing Love is about relationships and how we create conditions for growth despite the inevitable challenges. Cloudburst is about grief, specifically—which is a tricky topic. We need to keep growing but pushing is the opposite of helpful. And in Dancing on Hot Sand I talk about personal inner growth in hard places—spiritual growth, without sounding religious, I hope.