My father’s life experiences would send most of us to therapy. No such services were available then in rural Kansas, and if they were, stigma was attached. People born in 1935 pressed on, stoic as they internalized their grief and pain, all while doing their duty, serving their country, raising their families, and performing their jobs with excellence. It was a hardscrabble life.
Meanwhile, deep wounds festered for decades, his trauma shaping my fears. When he entered his eighties, all of a sudden, he began speaking about experiences he’d never discussed openly in the past. One by one, the Lord resurfaced the life-altering events that had shaped his life.
First, he talked his way through his naval service. We honored him for his valor during long swims through shark-infested waters, enemy fire in turbulent oceans, hearing loss from his role as gunner’s mate, and swabbing decks covered in radioactive fallout after watching nuclear bombs tested in the Pacific. He spent much time in this place of reminiscence.
Then, seeming to have come to peace with his military experiences, he shut that door, moving on to consider the tragic death of his brother, which he had witnessed as a thirteen-year-old. My sister and I sat breathless, barely moving or breathing as he described in detail the car accident that changed his life. We’d never before heard these facts. Gently, the Lord enabled him to come to peace, to see that as the little brother in the backseat, he was not to blame. More healing.
There were other harms. One by one, the Lord surfaced these. This inner work allowed my father to be at peace at last, more at rest in the Lord than I’ve ever before seen him. Now his prayers are spontaneous and sweet, his love more tender.
Watching the Lord gently guide this process of personal growth, bringing wounds to the surface, and then applying the balm of comfort and grace has been a great encouragement. My mother says we’re watching God prepare my father for heaven. I’m deeply reassured and comforted by the love God has shown by patiently and lovingly bringing healing into his life.
Though we live and write in a different time than my father experienced as a young man, the Lord’s help has existed for generations, and it continues. He works in the lives of each generation according to our needs, our cognition, and our current technology, or lack thereof.
Nowadays, we sift and sort through our traumas more readily, resurfacing them and getting professional help if necessary. We’ve realized that talking through issues with encouragement from God’s Word can help greatly. We more readily seek input from our pastors and friends as we wrestle with the Lord during hardships. We reach out for community support when needed. We discuss topics that were avoided in previous generations.
We can now research online. We need not bear these experiences in silence for an entire lifetime. Anyone can find Bible study help, assistance with original languages, and guidance for practically any situation, because of the ready tools at our fingertips. We are a new generation in a new era, with more access to the written word than ever before, now available on our gadgets, computers, and phones.
At this unique time, the Lord has gifted us to be writers. Us! What a privilege!
As Christian writers, God can use our words to give encouragement to the suffering, providing a source of help to turn them toward God’s Word. Given the pain my father experienced and that we, his family, suffered as he struggled for decades, I feel particularly blessed to be used by the Lord right now as a writer of encouragement.
Writers, our mission is from God, for this time and in this season. When we pray, seek God’s wisdom and inspiration, and write to uplift others, we participate in God’s restorative work. The words he gives can transform lives, apply salve to heartache, and begin the healing of families.
This work is holy. Lean into your holy calling. The Lord uses your gifting for good.