Friday, September 7, 2018

Stepping out and over the Edge into Healing

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

I will never forget my first experience of abseiling as part of an emergency team training session. It was such a dipolar experience. Stepping over the edge was a gargantuan challenge, yet once I was over the precipice the rest of the exercise was pure technique, not to mention enjoyable.
I remember feeling silly that I had all this protection equipment on, and skilled instructors, and additional belay, yet part of me did not want to climb over that edge. As I did, and I feel for you if you have a fear of heights, I felt my sense of equilibrium tested and stretched. My body was hard and my grip was tight, revealing that I had illogical trust issues that defied what I knew to be true — this system of abseiling could be 100% trusted.
in manifold fear, action speaks volumes,
as involuntary responses take over.
Once I was over the edge, all of the challenge evaporated, and the rest of the exercise was easy. Indeed, it was one of those experiences you just want to do again and again, having overcome the initial hurdle.
The exercise of abseiling seems to me to be pretty close to the exercise of healing one’s inner dialogue of pain and trauma. Of course, this assumes that the therapy is safe, where any risk of fall would be eliminated. The abseiling analogy imagines that the hardest part of plumbing our grief and trauma is stepping over the edge, of trusting our pain to a process, of knowing we will come out intact on the other side.
Stepping out over the edge
where we feel we might fall is terrifying.
Such a fear needs to be validated,
listened to, valued, and addressed.
We don’t know if we will be re-traumatised. We don’t know how we will respond emotionally, and having unscrewed the lid, we need confidence to know we will be able to contain it. If we haven’t experienced it, we are forgiven that having all manner of reservation.
I think the best therapist in these situations is the one who has unexpected levels of compassion, the copious grace of empathic patience, and mastery over their ability to discern. They almost make it too safe. They make their interventions double- and triple-safe. They may even give us the kind of confidence that encourages us to have a go. Indeed, they may offer so much space that we are saying, ‘I’m ready to go already!’
As we step over the edge, having been protected from falling into an abyss, we do so holding capable hands. We do so holding the hand of our helper whilst also holding the hand of God.
We step out and over the edge safely
and into the destiny of our awaiting future
beyond our fears.
As we step over the edge into the new frontier of the expansive life that God is calling us to, we do so trusting the implicit safety we have been given. We step over the edge knowing that the hardest thing is over, and even though there may be more unsafe edges to climb over, having conquered the first edge we are granted courage to know that we can do it.
Overcome a hurdle and the next
similar hurdle is no such worry.
God has ordained for each of us this life that we live. It is all we have, so we make the most of the opportunity. If we shrink back now and don’t make the most of the days we have, we very well miss what is ours alone to have. Today is the day to step forward into the day’s destiny.
So, the opportunity ahead of each of us is to identify which edges we need to step over, and to find safe ways of entering into the healing that God has for each of us.

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