Vulnerability without safety is akin to trauma. Therefore when someone is experiencing trauma and they are naturally vulnerable in those moments but cannot find personal safety it is as if they are being retraumatized.
For two months, two very long emotionally draining months, my wife and I were struggling with the ever changing news we were getting from various doctors and health professionals. We would grieve the loss of this pregnancy and then recover, grasping for breath as we were then told that the pregnancy was progressing. We were being introduced to medical terms and situations that I had never heard about before, and researching it only added to the massive stress of the situation. Then there was the bleeding. The constant bleeding. I was growing very concerned for my wife’s health, taking my cue from her in terms of what she needed. Fortunately, being in management, I had the flexibility to adapt to those immediate medical emergencies and various appointments during those first two months.
As is fairly typical in crisis situations we would share aspects of what was going on with some people around us. More specifically, because that pastor, formally known as our pastor, was so involved in our lives, counseling the both of us, weaving in and out of every area of our lives and relationship, while tending to a growing house church ministry on the island, both him and his wife were given information as we understood it. And so we prayed.
In addition there were people in the church that we attended that were concerned for what was going on and feeling compelled and as vulnerable as we did, we reached out to this group of individuals, sharing with them information as we understood it, updating those individuals each Sunday that we were able to attend, often having it listed as a non-specific prayer request; scheduled into the order of things. And so we prayed.
Given the emotional ups and downs of these two months there was a natural correlation to prayer. We received bad news and we prayed. Others around us joined in. Then we receive hopeful news and we take a moment, in that moment, to catch our breath, to wipe away a tear, before the new wave of anxiety came. Then more bad news and we turn back to prayer – even harder.
This correlation to prayer – a desperate cry out to God, gathering anyone around us who would do the same, became a standard practice. I started the pregnancy journey in prayer and fasting but after a couple of weeks had gone by, and we had thought that we had miscarried, my wife and I decided that I should stop fasting. And so I did. But then we found out that there wasn’t a miscarriage and the pregnancy was continuing. I didn’t go back to fasting but I went back to praying, and praying as hard as I could. My prayer journal during those two months is thick. Pages and pages of desperate cries. A record of ‘answered prayers’, and a recruitment of others willing to pray with us.
Something new was emerging in the midst of this difficult and painful life journey that my wife and I were on. Perhaps I should have understood the dynamic sooner, or the fact that this was becoming a familiar cycle in my life, but I didn’t, and instead I walked – rather crawled through it quite painfully, emerging on the other side, beaten, battered, and banished.
The first glass wall went up when I invited my pastor at that time to my work and I made myself accountable to him. In short order he had taken it upon himself to show up at our home and chastise me for my behavior at a meeting the night before. That was a few years earlier from this pregnancy. He then was in our home, helping with the renovations and helping himself to the fragile and vulnerable state of our marriage relationship, transfixed more and more on my personal fragmentation and brokenness. All the while, he installed a couple more glass walls.
I joined in when I became more and more involved in the community. Every move I was making was recorded for the residents of this city to read about in their local newspapers, as I was in there every week. The blurring of my professional life and my personal life was more and more apparent when it finally came to a climax with the chairman of the board of the Chamber of Commerce threatening my life and my family’s lives. Without knowing it or understanding it, I too had constructed a couple more glass walls.
Now this time – the third time. A cycle. Reaching out to our religious community for help, assurance, prayer support, answers. Providing updates to our prayer group each week, which turned into daily updates. Providing updates to our church community, and having our weekly updates become a part of the order of service. This time – in this cycle, the glass walls of our home were completed by our religious community.
I now lived in a glass house but I didn’t know it at the time.
Although I was about to.