In high school I dated a drug dealer. He was handsome, kind and a gentleman in his own way. Eventually we separated and went our own way. I moved out of town and hadn’t seen him for about 10 years. One night, I randomly dreamed of him. He was going mentally insane. At the time I didn’t know what it meant. I ignored it and quickly dismissed it out of my head.
I moved back to my hometown in 2008. It was 2012 when he reached out to me online. After a few short exchanges, I shared the strange dream I’d had. He revealed he had been shot in the head and suffered with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ever since.
I didn’t know what it was. I just wanted to help. We exchanged emails. I went on a search to find holistic solutions to help. I found information on marijuana treatment and how hard it was for those suffering with PTSD to interact with others. At the time, I had no clue PTSD would become such a hot topic. Now, military veteran advocates, schools and organizations realize the deep impact of trauma and how it’s affecting the masses.
My own father served two military branches. He was a Vietnam veteran. I remember hearing stories growing up of the mental anguish he often exhibited and expressed until the day he gave his life over to God. He made a vow to God to stop drinking. He started preaching the gospel and serving people.
My father served people until he no longer could. He visited prisoners in jail. He sat beside hospital beds praying for the sick. He traveled the world sharing the good news. He made it look so easy. He died on March 11th, 2017 at the age of 87.
I didn’t grow up with my Father. He never knew how much I admired him. How deeply I missed him as a little girl or how I compared every man I dated to him at his best and worst. For the last 20 years of his life we’d talk every morning praying together on the phone until he could no longer talk or live on his own anymore.
Of all the things we talked about, we never talked about his time in the military. He never mentioned what it was like for a black man to fight in the vietnam war. I also never mentioned my time in the church serving God’s people. I never talked about the internal and external wars I had to face in my own pursuit to “Take up my cross and follow Jesus.”
Over time as my Father’s condition declined, so did my faith in people. As the days went on, I also developed a condition I refer to as “PTSD” or Post Traumatic Serving Disorder. Somewhere along my journey of salvation I’d hit a terrible snag or two. I forgot I was supposed to serve God instead of people.
Every button I’d had was pushed. I prided myself on seeing people for who they were but never saying a word. I’d hold secrets. I’d keep confidences. Yet, the conversations in my head were often quite different. In my heart, I was quietly cussing people out in the back of my mind. I was telling them off and silencing what I like to call “My inner Peter.”
See they didn’t know the old me. They didn’t know the Lonna who used to fight at the drop of a dime. They didn’t see the Lonna God saved who was always ready to get it “On and popping.” They saw the Lonna who smiled, cringed, and never said a word.
At 14 I was a fighter. At 15, I was even worse. At 16 we relocated back to Michigan from Texas. I calmed down. I wanted a fresh start. I needed a new image. Those that knew me in high school knew what a work God had done.
But these saints? Oh no. They didn’t know. They didn’t see. They didn’t understand that it was taking every bit of my salvation journey to hold back the fight and my tongue. Many underestimated and underappreciated the grace being extended to them through me.
Until one day I’d had enough. I was over it. I was over the two-faced lies. I was over the power and control. I was over holding back and taking too much. That’s when it happened. I’d been serving when I should have been sitting down. I’d been singing past the hurt, drowning out the pain and scars.
Is that you? Are you going through the motions, but deep inside you carry years of regret, unforgiveness, and trauma? Do you go to church Sunday after Sunday hoping something will change only to find yourself back in the same situation again unable to escape and get out?
If so, join the millions of people in the PTSD club who’ve never been diagnosed. Their carrying the weight and burden of others, hiding behind church service while secretly praying to heal from yesterday. You don’t have to hide any longer. God sees you. He saw you before this day ever came. It’s time to break free from yesterday.
Shake off the chains of others expectations. Live free. Walk free. Be free. Join me on this journey of healing. We’ll discover how we hold the answer to the #1 thing wrong with the bible today.