Divorce, Fractured Into Wholeness, My Life with God

No Two Rooms

We help each other through shared experiences, but we need to make sure we’re not assuming carbon copies.

We try to relate and let people know we understand because we’ve been in a familiar place. However, it’s the difference between remembering a room and walking into it.

For example, I know when someone contacts me because they’ve read my book, share a mutual friend, or hear of my story some other way, and they ask me a question, it’s rarely a question about my personal experience—my room. It’s more about the room they’re currently in. They’re trying to make sense it, and because we have similar experiences, I might have the answer.

I might, but I am always hesitant to offer an answer, and I will typically verbalize my hesitation something like this, “I’m not here to give you answers, because I don’t have all the answers. I’ve shared many of the details of how I dealt with trauma. Some of my process might help you, but some of it might look very different to what next steps you need to take. But I can relate to many of the feelings and challenges you are experiencing, and I will be the best listener and encourager I know how to be. And with that will come some difficult questions and accountability you will need in order to survive and grow through this.”

When I consider the difference between remembering the room and walking into it, I have a visceral reaction. The room is the crux of the crisis, and for me, it’s indeed associated with a tangible room. And that room is full of chaos, devastation, and confusion. I don’t need to, nor can I, walk into that room. But I can feel it. I don’t want to project anything onto a person sitting in a similar room as I talk to them. More than the fact that some of their details will be different than mine is the fact they are overwhelmed. (Some of that will subside over time but only with dedicated effort. It pains my heart when I see people over time not able or willing to do the difficult work of getting out of that room because, in an odd way, the chaos feels comfortable, since it was the closest point of time they remember somewhat normalcy.)

Of course, we’re not talking about a physical room, even though, as I said, there is a room that comes to mind for me. But it is a place of emotional turmoil and trauma. And in that place, there is so much happening, as much as someone might say they need quick answers, they truly cannot handle more debris flying around them. I don’t want to lob anything capable of hurting them, since they’re not oriented enough to discern well. But I can listen, reflect, and give hope—not false hope in easy answers and resolutions but a deeper hope of the basics like breathing, trustworthy friendship, and the sun rising the next day.

I believe God can use different situations in our lives for us to reach out to and help others. However, I also believe we get it wrong sometimes and misuse those situations. Instead of helping someone through the way we were helped or wanted to be helped through, we need to trust how God is leading us to help. He rarely gives us all the answers to pass along. And that’s okay, because he has the answers. We have the humility to look to him for guidance every step of the way. Even if it doesn’t make sense to us, he is well aware of the details and the path forward, and we can trust him—much more than we can trust ourselves.

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