Her name is Amy.
Or “Ame”. Depends on which personality
attacks addresses her, the deep voiced rapist or the high school friend.
Amy and I were never formally introduced. Her messiness spilled out to anyone within a five-foot radius…which included me.
My plan to find a quiet secluded corner proved to be a challenge in a Panera full of patrons finishing up lunch. Instead of settling down in one of my normal two-chair tables along the front windows (already taken), I headed toward the comfy chairs with the attached trays.
Balancing my cinnamon crunch bagel on its plate while setting my computer bag on the floor I heard her giggle out loud. My free hand immediately checked the back hem of my dress. Had I been wearing my computer bag in such a way as to “flash” the entire Panera restaurant on my search for the perfect spot?
Well. If I just flashed everyone, all I could do now was act as “normal” as possible and pray I would never see any of those people EVER again.
She giggled once more. Okay it couldn’t be that funny. Then I noticed she stared intently into her laptop. Perhaps watching an episode of “How I met your mother” had led to the sudden outbursts of laughter?
My phone rang with an anticipated call and I soon dismissed the giggles.
Ending my call and opening up my computer, the giggling neighbor now began to carry on a very loud conversation. But she wasn’t holding a phone.
I reached into my bag hoping to find ear buds. The last thing I needed was a distracting conversation during this rare moment alone with my computer.
Listening to my new favorite “All Sons & Daughters” Pandora station was not enough to drowned out her loud “protest”. I pulled out one ear bud just as she held her hand out to her side and declared, “Stop bothering me!”
Out of curiosity I slowly removed the second ear bud. Who was bothering her? Following her gaze, I landed on a sweet dad enjoying lunch with his two little boys.
Then came more pleas, louder, stronger and more frequent:
“I’m not listening to you.”
“I’m not interested in you.”
A moment later it became clear to whom she was speaking…in a low voice she replied, “See how gross and ugly that man is. That ugly man is going to come over here and hurt you.”
Then back to her normal voice, “I don’t like you. No thanks. Get away.”
Back came the deep voice with more violent threats. Specific threats. She responded, “Stop looking at me you stupid, yucky rapist.”
Her false reality became apparent. With each personality she assumed, my heart broke a little more. For the next hour and a half, every time a man entered her line of vision another “personality” voiced concern over his intent to harm her in some way.
Little by little her past was shared with me, an uninvited “friend.” I became her protector. When strangers sat down nearby and tossed “weirdo” looks her way, I wanted to explain, “She is broken. Her past includes: torture, angst, loss of a child, abuse, sadness, and deep fear. Don’t look annoyed like I used to be. Show compassion.”
Fear & Brokenness
We all have brokenness. Hopefully nowhere near the level of Amy. Unlike Amy, most of our hurts aren’t expressed “out loud” for bystanders to witness. We bury our yuckiness deep.
Here is my brokenness…For the past year I’ve felt negativity looming. I’ve longed for joy. I’ve tried to “choose joy”. I’ve prayed for joy. This quote helped explained my nagging negativity:
“Thoughts create your moods.
When you experience a fear-based emotion you will feel depressed and your thoughts will be characterized by negativity.” Dr. Caroline Leaf
If I take Dr. Leaf’s logic backward…my negativity is based in depression which is rooted in fear.
Thinking of Dr. Leaf’s quote it makes sense why just praying for joy isn’t going to remove gloom. The root cause is fear. My prayers needed to focus on trusting God and removing fear. I cried out:
“Lord, what am I afraid of?”
The list began to form:
I’m afraid one child will get hurt while I’m busy taking care of another child (which has happened). I’m afraid a stranger or friend will criticize the way I handle my brood while in public. I’m afraid my harshness will ruin my boys’ future selves. I’m afraid my poor home management disappoints my husband.
Even though it wasn’t my battle, Amy’s persistance exhausted me. Repeating defensive phrases: “I’m not talking to you.” “Get away.” “No thanks.” “I’m not talking to you.” “Get away.” “No thanks.” “I’m not talking to you.” “Get away.” “No thanks.”
Her relentless determination to combat her inner fears and outer demons also inspired me.
I know truth deep down. But when fears appear and lies flood my mind, what phrase can I repeat in defense? What is my “go-to” truth available to combat the lies? I can’t wait until my next quiet time to find an applicable verse. Truth should be locked and loaded for the next attack.
Here are my new defense phrases against the “voices” in my head:
- “Be still.”
- “I know that you are God.”
- “You knit them together.”
- “Give thanks.”
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12
Do you struggle with fear? Negativity? What phrases can you repeat when those lies begin to surface?
**The entire time I “sat” with Amy I prayed for God to put her soul at rest. I prayed for healing. I approached two girls, who were wearing t-shirts quoting Scripture, and asked if they wanted to pray over Amy with me. They didn’t feel comfortable with my idea. So I continued to pray quietly at a distance. As the restaurant cleared her voices quieted.