Os Guinness wrote, "Nothing is more critical than to recognize and respond to such a moment. Before will hardens into fate and choice into 'might have been,' the kairos hour is the moment when the present is at its greatest intensity and the future is uniquely open to our decision and action."
That's quite a loaded moment! We'd like to think our future depends on serious thought and well-laid plans. Sometimes (probably more often than not), our kairos moments are not planned or thought out. They burst in on us uninvited and even unwelcome. They just kind of happen in the urgency of a moment.
I like to be in control. I like to think--and for others to think--that I've got it all together and that I'm unfazed by much of what life throws at me. But the truth is that sometimes the most seemingly insignificant thing can trigger an unreasonable reaction and I come completely undone. Through most of my life, I was able to keep my "undoing" private. As much as I hate to admit it, sights, words, certain people, and especially smells can trigger PTSD flashbacks. For a long time, pride and self-preservation enabled me to keep a lid on my secrets. The fear of appearing crazy sometimes exceeded the fear of my past and kept me in check...publicly at least.
Then one day, I came so unraveled and so lost in traumatic flashback, I knew I was in danger and was desperate for a safe place. It's hard to explain living with PTSD. It rears up when I least expect it and turns my life and my thinking upside down. I could usually slip in the church unnoticed and busy myself or stay somewhere quiet until the episode ran its course. It has often been my safe zone. That day--no such luck. The pastor and his friend saw me come in. I went on to my classroom without stopping to talk, hoping they would just think I had things to do and go about their own business. I wanted--I needed to hide out alone until I could get my head and my heart back together. I knew what was coming. I would get so entrenched in a memory, as if the past became present--the sounds, the sights, and the smells seem so very real. I knew I couldn't escape it or bring myself back to reality without drastic measures. I locked the door in hopes of being left alone. But minutes later: knock, knock.I didn't answer. Knock, knock again. "Sheri..." I sat in the corner out of sight, hoping they would go away. I heard keys jingle as the door was opened. "Someone's here to see you."
I thought, "Not now! I can't handle this now." Before I could protest, the visitor was led in. Normally I would jump to respond to someone's need and even that day, I really tried to listen. I could hear her words but they weren't registering. The other images were invading my thoughts. C evidently felt the need to step in to check on things. The visitor was still oblivious but thankfully he realized "things" were not so okay--I was injured. He quickly made excuses and ushered her out. I locked the door again, not quite sure what I was afraid of but I didn't want anyone to see me that way. I was uncooperative to say the least, but he must have had an idea what was happening and insisted I get help. I didn't want that kind of help. Basically, he forced me to go willingly or with escort. Finally, I hesitantly agreed to go. Honestly, I couldn't have hated him more yet appreciate him at the same time. He was firm though he didn't pry or humiliate. He made good on his promise to walk with me through my mess. I don't remember much that followed except the waiting. I was overwhelmed, terrified,and so vulnerable--at the mercy of people I didn't know and memories I couldn't escape or understand. I remember this much though--C knew somehow that my ultimate healing depended on that vulnerability. Shame always prevented me from talking about my "stuff" or opening up about some of these memories that haunted me. Only one other person--a counselor--had even an inkling. In the waiting that day, I paced and climbed the walls, wishing I could escape and run far away from anyone I ever knew or who knew me. Far away from pain, memories, and shame. The waiting seemed forever--I was half here but flashbacks still plagued the other half. I don't know why or how but I started talking--the whole memory that had me in its grip spilled out. I can only wonder what must have been going through his mind. He sat and listened without word, comment, or judgment. I was a mess but I needed that quiet time to talk without detour--to pour out the poison.
It was a life-defining kairos moment and it turned the tide on my healing I think. Time stood still as, for the first time, I spoke the ugly out loud without so much shame and fear of judgment or consequence, even if it was only for a few moments..or hours. Honestly, I'm not sure which...I remember little else about the rest of that day. I know I went backward before I went forward. I know that coming back to the church was a very hard thing to do but I did and there were caring friends who helped me through it.
That was a long time ago. Healing has been in the making for several years and I'm still healing. I still don't like being vulnerable. And even as far as I've come, I still don't always walk this path perfectly but something in me changed that unpleasant day. God was given permission to begin prying the fingers of shame's grip loose from me--a long and difficult process. The waiting that day was a timeless moment that--for me--will echo in eternity. I didn't realize it then, but I made a choice that day and that choice is still making me. Church is still my "safe" place--the Spirit's dwelling place--and I can say with certainty that I never want to leave the safety of His presence.
One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.
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. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at His sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord.