Psalm 3:3 “O Lord, I have so many enemies; so many are against me. So many are saying, ‘God will never rescue him!’ But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high. I cried out to the Lord and he answered me . . . I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me. I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies who surround me on every side . . . Victory comes from you, O Lord.”
A few months after Karis died I began having nightmares and flashbacks—3-D “awake” nightmares—reliving traumatic moments with Karis, particularly in the ICU. This time, different from when the events actually happened, I felt all of the powerful emotions which simply had no space when Karis was fighting for her life.
It was horrific. I was afraid to fall asleep, afraid to be alone, afraid flashbacks would hit me at inappropriate moments that would alarm other people. I had trouble focusing on work and on other concerns. I felt consumed by “me,” a very unhappy place to be. I was paralyzed by the pain and terror my conscious mind had closed off to me until suddenly the lid came off.
My “enemies” were not people, but emotions: panic, terror, confusion, despair, helplessness, impotence, utter exhaustion. I felt neglected and abandoned—when had anyone cared about me during those years of relentless stress and crisis when the focus was always on Karis? I felt shame for thinking these kinds of thoughts; for being what I called a self-centered wimp. I felt completely overwhelmed.
In retrospect, how good God was to shield me from so much of this while I was actually going through it, when the focus rightly had to be on Karis. And how good God was to walk with me back through it all when the time came to face what repeated, unpredictable and intense traumatic events had done to me through the years of unremitting tension and stress. How good he was to provide people who understood what was happening and gave me hope.
As I cried out to the Lord for help with each nightmare and flashback, he answered with relief and healing, one by one, one at a time, over a period of many months. Though I feared it would never end—“God will never rescue me!”—the time eventually came when I was able to sleep and wake in safety, knowing the Lord was watching over me.
I can say now in an entirely different way than before, “You, Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high. I am no longer afraid of ten thousand enemies who surrounded me on every side. When new ones show their faces, I know you can defeat them too, because victory comes from you.”