A few years ago my father and I were in an argument and he said to me, “You are like the sun. Beautiful. Warm. Necessary for life. But up close your intense energy and heat are deadly.”
I admit that I am a person of intense energy. For much of my life that energy has been useful—except when it hasn’t. And now, in this time of pandemic, it has surfaced many thorny questions. I have found myself more conflicted than ever before. Conflicted in my role as a wife and mother, the leader of an organization and as a citizen of my city. And conflicted by how to use that energy—when to channel it and push forward and when to pause to acknowledge what the world needs of me, and what I need for myself. What follows is an account of my personal struggle to answer the question: What am I called to do right now?
My energy is connected to both my trauma and my deeply knitted relationships. My initial trauma happened at birth. I came out of my mother’s womb not breathing and with a facial deformity. This scarred me in different ways throughout my life and was so traumatic for my parents that they decided my father would deliver my two younger siblings at home. While a bit of a renaissance man—a painter, poet, and master chess player—my father is a plumber by trade and said that delivering my siblings was just working with a different type of plumbing.
Around my eighth birthday, I was kidnapped from my childhood home. A man entered my bedroom. I didn’t actually wake up until he had already carried me out my front door. I clearly remember the multicoloured pattern of my nightgown—the black, yellow, red, and green—his gun, and the blue car we drove off in. At some point I found the strength to tell this stranger that I forgave him. That Jesus forgave him.
He paused, opened the car door, and let me out. Alone and barefoot in the dark of night, I walked until I eventually found my way home. I entered the now unlocked front door of my house and went directly to my parents’ room to tell them what happened. They didn’t believe me. Understandably, they thought it was just a bad dream.