Life is Grace

Seeking the Blessings in the Chaos. Writing and Photography.

I realize now, finally, that the pain I’ve endured will always be an indelible part of me. But recovery and healing aren’t necessarily about erasing pain; I think it’s more about using our time in the darkness to become fully human. St. Iraneus of Lyons wrote, famously, that “[t]he greatest glory of God is a human being fully alive,” meaning, I suspect, that we become saints by simply becoming more of who we are, even in our brokenness. Perhaps especially in our woundedness. Happiness, I’ve come to believe, is overrated: joy is the thing to strive for. They are not the same thing.

I think I first began to comprehend this when I was raped at the age of 32. The grief, the overwhelming sense of shame, of self-hatred and disgust, threatened to drown me. It was like living the first weeks after my PTSD diagnosis (and the childhood rape that originally caused it) all over again. But, along with the love and support of my family, friends, and the Basilica community, one thing saved me.

I’m the last one to discount the value of my many years of therapy, and the excellent medical care I’ve received–which I have no doubt saved my life–but I wonder. Without my experience of Christ’s healing love, would any–or much, anyway–of my treatment been successful? one of the most enduring legacies of sexual abuse and/or rape is a pervasive, all-encompassing sense of shame. And of course I know, intellectually, that the ways in which I was violated were not my responsibility. But what is slowly changing that perception of myself in my heart is the realization that I am, just as we all are, the imago dei: made in the image and likeness of God. At last, I am able to (sometimes) accept that my violation was God’s violation, too, and that He wept with me in my sorrow and grief.

I often think of the Scripture story of the woman with the hemorrhage. Because of her constant flow of blood, her society considered her unclean–just as I often feel unclean. Think of the shame she must have felt. Yet she summoned the courage to touch the hem of Jesus‘ cloak, and by her faith, she was healed, healed in the most profound way possible, and her shame was no more. It was her trust, her utter, complete surrender to her love for Jesus, and His love for her, which made her free.

Just as I hope that someday I, too, will be made free.

2 thoughts on “fully human

  1. Barbara, sometimes it really does seem unfair that we must suffer to understand the cross better, but it seems that it’s true. And even though Jesus doesn’t want our suffering anymore than he wanted him own suffering, because of his pain, he IS fully there in ours, and ready, waiting to lead us out of the darkness, no matter how long it takes. I see you grappling with big things, and your writing just might be the thing that helps free you. Blessings, and keep moving toward the light!


  2. You’re writing about brave things here, and I applaud you. I, too, made the same discovery (and am writing about it on my blog, too) as I healed my PTSD: the secret is to search for joy because, as I see it, our capacity for joy lies in the most innocent part of us — that part that trauma cannot touch, and so that part of us which remains fresh and clean forever, despite our experiences and so holds the key to healing. Shedding our survivor selves and reconnecting with our joyful selves transitions us from imprisonment to freedom.From one PTSD experiencer to another, and from one who has healed to one who is healing, let me say this: it can be done — it IS possible to bridge the gap between PTSD and a joyful life. You’re on the right path. Keep going!


I'd love to know what you think, please feel free to comment.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


Life hacks, fashion and beauty tips, photography, health gyan, poetry and heartfelt musings about everything and anything under the sun!

The Alchemist's Studio

Raku pottery, vases, and gifts

Mason Jars and Lightning Bugs

Simple Gifts from the South

Ruby Rose Creations

Tips and Tricks on Growing Beautiful Red Roses

A Purpose Driven Wander-List

A Blog about self-empowerment and living life with purpose

john pavlovitz

Stuff That Needs To Be Said


Be nice. Be green. Be kitschig.

My Plaid Heart

for the love of scotland

Blooms and Bubbles

(it's still East Meets Breast...)

The Sweaty Knitter, Weaver and Devotee of Other Fiber Arts

Interweaving life with fiber arts! (Photograph by Carly Moskat.)

indahs: dive, travel & photography

cities - cultures - ocean - marine life

Homeless shelter, volunteering, family, struggles, inspiration

Karin Ravasio nature photography, blogging about motivation, success and little poems

To Create Sunshine

Creativity - Simplicity - Gratitude - Wandering

Gingerfancy Photography

Still life, Nature, and Macro Photography

Anastasia Writes

politics, engineering, parenting, relevant things over coffee.

Brainless Blogger

A blog about chronic illness and chronic pain life

Sixteen Miles Out

... capturing life from my perspective

%d bloggers like this: