Ashes On My Heart

Ash Wednesday Symbol

I have previously fought our attendance at a reformed church, and a church that uses the church calendar. However, today is the start of Lent. Today is Ash Wednesday. Tonight, we will go to church where we will listen to a sermon on our sins and the darkness that led Christ to the cross. Tonight, the four of us will have crosses of ash placed on our foreheads in reminder that we are all in need of Christ’s grace. This is entrance into a grieving and humbling period in which we prepare to observe Christ’s death on the cross, and three days later celebrate His resurrection.

Over the next 40 days, I have resolved to seek Christ with all my heart. I am tired of this in-between faith I have been taking part of over the last year and a half. I am not the type to forgo material things for lent, because as I said, I have fought the church calendar. However, for the next 40 days I have resolved to give up fighting God with every ounce of my being. I will seek Him for healing of my trauma. I will grieve for my sins and the sins that have been committed against me, and I will pray to forgive. I have resolved to humble myself and listen to what He has to say to me. For the next 40 days, I will make sure my family is ready to leave for church on time, I will not complain about the church I attend or its distance from my home. I will listen to the pastor’s words to the best of my ability (with 4 year old and 6 month old in tow) and I will sing with all my heart. I will not fight my husband or speak poorly of him for any reason. I will not yell at my son and I will take the time to meet his emotional needs. I will seek God and fill the role He has for me with my whole heart. I can do anything for 40 days. For 40 days, I resolve to give myself to God. This may start as an endeavor in the flesh, but I pray God would enable me to follow Him once again through His grace.

Someone said to me that Matthew 27:27-31 is a picture of where Christ meets us in our physical suffering; of our past trauma. So I leave you with the verses:

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole garrison around Him. And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe around Him. When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head. And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified.


Mentor Lost And The Discombobulated Attachment Style

I think I recall learning in undergrad that only about 25% of people in the US have a secure attachment. That leaves the rest of us with anxious-avoidant, anxious-ambivalent, or disorganized attachments. The anxious-avoidant attachment style is characterized by unhealthy disinterest in attachment altogether. Those with an anxious-ambivalent attachment style over-attach themselves to people. The disorganized attachment style is considered the most destructive of attachment styles, and is marked by an unpredictable mix of all three of the previously mentioned attachment styles.

Though it was 2007, I recall learning these attachment styles with great clarity, down to which seat I sat in (second row from the right, second seat back- I am really a front row learner but embarrassment during undergrad led me to the second seat instead). At first, I thought the anxious-ambivalent fit me, and then was struck by how well the anxious-avoidant fit. Finally, my breath stopped at the disorganized attachment style; that was me!

Having a disorganized attachment has led to some doozies in relationships, namely with older mentors. I seem to have a need that I believe an older mentor would fill, and they do for a while. Inevitably however, they tire of my constant combination of neediness and withdrawal- often at the exact same time.

This has happened more than once, but my most recent mentor strikes the heaviest chord. Why? She tried the hardest. She held on for 35 weeks and 3 days; 2 days shy of 8 months. For 8 months, she reached out daily with phone calls and emails, I suppose hoping that her persistence would allow my anxiety to settle a little.

As much as I desired a healthy mentoring relationship, I could not allow someone to see my vulnerability. This goal to sabotage the very stability I desired was met with newfound vigor when she caught me in a public bathroom crying about a friend who had been killed by a drunk driver- she held me while I cried. I knew from that point forward that I could and could not trust her, both at the same time.

To say the least, our relationship became discombobulated and ended very badly, just over 7 months ago (7 months and 3 days to be exact), unfortunately with no resolution, closure, or discussion. We ran into each other a couple months ago, and with a passing touch to my forearm I knew she still cared. I hope and pray that one day a healthy friendship will be restored between us. That she’ll forgive if she hasn’t already- holding onto hurt is not her style. That my cycle of destroying the very human relationships I most desire will end.

I love and detest my disorganized attachment style. It keeps me safe, yet it ensures relationship is not how I will come to heal (and still it is how I most desire to heal). It is both my best and worst quality that has come about as a result of my trauma.

I believe only the Lord can handle this and not walk away. But I both love and detest the thought of trusting the One who watched and allowed my trauma. I am told to trust Him; I pray to trust Him. Only He can change my heart, and yet He has not. I keep searching for Him. Perhaps it’s the search He desires from me. Perhaps it’s the search He will use to heal me. I pray relief comes quickly before I destroy any other relationships in my wake.


Here is the first poem I ever wrote on 9-17-12, and it also happens to be my favorite. This was when my anxiety was first really climaxing and then I had my first flashback on 10-5-12. My faith was still strong at this point, but around this time I began to struggle greatly with my relationship with God. In order to understand the poem, you have to read the non-italics together (all Bible verses), and then read the italics together (my own thoughts). It’s two poems.

psalm 91_4-5

Your Word says toward me, how precious are Your thoughts

My soul will not be comforted day or night

While I was a sinner, Christ died on the cross

And my aching flesh puts up an endless fight

The desire of my soul is for Your name

We are commanded to not quench the Spirit

It was for Your love for me that Jesus came

But Lord, I feel so deaf and cannot hear it

You promised to help just at the break of dawn

The still small voice I am told to listen for

So I will sing to You, I sing a new song

But the waves crash too loud on the distant shore

I love You, my Rock, my Fortress, and my Strength

If my tears are in Your bottle and Your book

So I will stand and take up my shield of faith

Why do I feel You don’t take a second look?

I must wait patiently and trust in You, Lord

One who doubts is an uncontrollable wave

Your comforting Word is sharper than a sword

I’m double-minded, unstable in my ways

I fear not, I am Yours and You call my name

Lord, I do believe; please help my unbelief

You promised to wipe tears and relieve my pain

Comfort my soul, I am begging for relief

I trust that You will forever be the same.



Something inside of me snapped. I’m not sure what it was because I’m still completely numb. People are asking questions. People are reaching out. People in my real life are telling me they care. This feeling is so foreign and I’m not sure I’m comfortable with it. My daughter was given a beautiful quilt today at church. I had conversation with other women who also struggle to get dinner on the table, and who can’t sing, and who can’t sew. For the first time, it felt like there might be a small place in my church where I belong… And I don’t like this feeling. I am used to being the quiet one who is overlooked and often unintentionally ignored. I don’t like speaking out and I hate answering questions. I don’t like being called “strong” and “courageous” for speaking out against generational cycles. I don’t even want to speak, I want to hide in the corner. I am finding myself on the verge of retreating completely, of shutting down, of removing myself from all social interaction in order to survive. I am much safer when I’m not in the center of attention. I find myself desperately seeking my unhealthy coping skills in order to quickly feel like myself again. I want to continue to feel safe in my unsafe and scared world. There is a part of me that does not want to heal because it’s not comfortable. I hate change but it’s happening anyway; good change or bad change, I’m not sure. Probably a little of both. Against my will. Hopefully when (read: if) I come out on the other side, kicking and screaming against my will, I will open my eyes and see flowers, green grass, and sunlight. Only when I am sure I can stand on firm ground will I feel safe enough to venture from this box I have created for myself; a box chained and locked and thrown overboard so that nobody can find me. Only there am I safe.