This my friends is what a self-inflicted (I voluntary allowed it, I didn’t actually do it to myself) wound looks like that SHOULD (in theory) remove a scar from trauma I received in ministry almost a year ago. I know what you’re thinking … in ministry? What do you mean? and also … girl what are you thinking doing that ON PURPOSE?!? I know … I know.
It’s a little bit of a journey so grab a cup of coffee or tea and let me share with you what has taken 9 months to process and heal. If I’m honest, I’m not sure the healing process is fully complete just yet.
If you don’t already know, I have been an advocate for human trafficking victims and a liaison for over 10 years. It started back in 2012 and I started full speed ahead in the fight against human trafficking. I have had a non-profit, a safe house, and connected with our local police departments to bring awareness and training to our law enforcement, community, and youth. I knew the dangers of what I was doing and made every effort to set boundaries to protect everyone volunteering with me. I have gone to pick up trafficking victims in the middle of the night. I have been face to face with a pimp in a public confrontation. I have assisted in sting operations with the police to help make change. I have literally and knowingly skirted the line of danger … always being hyper vigilant to stay on the side of safety.
I have retired Beauty Will Rise (the nonprofit I had) and decided to simply work behind the scenes with other organizations consulting and supporting their fight. I had a great opportunity to work with and for a dear friend whose heart was aligned with mine in this fight. We were bringing small workshops to a small group of clientele (victims or organizations that directly helped human trafficking victims or ladies in the life who wanted to get out) so that they could make a sustainable income.
One of the biggest challenges in human trafficking or prostitution is how are they going to make a living if they aren’t doing what they are doing? How do they survive once they leave? We were working to put a nationally scaled solution in place to answer that hard equation. We had set up workshops in the Houston area based on the framework that had worked in another state which would allow the clients to create products and receive a reasonable wage in doing so. Then the products would be sold and the profit made invested back into creating more jobs and the momentum would grow.
As we were implementing these workshops everything was going smoothly. If there was a glitch we adjusted. If there was an issue, we addressed it. It was becoming a good, well oiled program for the organization, clients, and program for expansion. Until April 7, 2022.
We held our workshop on its normally scheduled day and everything was going smoothly. This would be my last workshop to attend before I started my cancer treatments and had a lumpectomy. About 11am the workshop was in full force with hands busy creating and music playing. One of the ladies was playing her specific genre of Christian music which was a little different from your mainstream Christian beats. It annoyed another lady because how loud it was.
There became a quickly escalating verbal altercation about the loudness of the music between the older client (60’s) and a younger middle age client (late 40’s). When the younger client got up to escalate the conflict from verbal to physical, immediate actions were take to separate the two. She was removed from the room, and all hands were on deck from not only our organization but also the ones we were hosting and partnering with. I sat next to the older lady to help keep calm the ever rising emotions and tempers.
After the first woman was removed, the older lady continued her verbal assault, never looking up from her work or leaving her chair, just running her mouth and spewing out nastiness. The friend of the younger lady then got up to defend her absent friend and began to lung towards the older client. Again volunteers, other workers, and staff sprang into action and remove her from the room preventing her from assaulting the older lady. Did this stop the ladie’s mouths? It did not.
Once the two middle age friend were out of the room, you could hear them loudly arguing their points to the staff and volunteers in the hallway. Their anger and frustration fueled outside the shut door towards the older client, and this is when it happened. Remember, I am sitting next to this older lady.
In a matter of 3 to 5 seconds all that I am about to describe happened. A comment was made by one of the younger ladies (which I didn’t clearly hear because the door was shut and they were in the hallway). Then the older client yelled, “Yo Momma!”. I remember thinking .. “did you really just make a Your momma comment? and kinda chuckled inside. As soon as she said that, I leaned in towards her and calmly whispered, “You know your words can be more violent than a fist at times.” At the exact time I whispered that, one of the younger women busted through the door, snatched an iPhone from one of the volunteers, and in full force hurled it through the air like a missile at the older lady aiming for the back of her head. Needless to say … she was not a good shot.
That morning I had chosen to wear my glasses (which I had never done before, thank you Holy Spirit) and I am so glad I did. When the cellphone made contact it was not with the target she was aiming at; it was the side of my face just under my temple and eye socket. The phone projected off my glasses, knocking them off of my face. This caused the injury you see but it did not allow the impact to break my face as it could have if my glasses not been there. I blacked out for a moment not even knowing what had just happened. It took me a hot minute, to just grasp the reality that I had been hit. I didn’t even realize it was a phone that was thrown until someone told me. I thought a fist had hit me and I was about to show my fight side. At that point my thoughts were not so holy or nice. I am a fighter by nature and that was the mental mode I shifted to … until I felt my face.
Everyone went into emergency mode. I wish I could tell you what all happened after that, but it’s a bit of a blur. But to the best of my recollection this is what happened. My colleague/friend/boss shut the workshop down immediately and wrapped everything up for us to go home early. I felt my face and my eye was massively swollen, so I asked for ice and began to care for myself and moved to a place of quiet and solitude to calm down. Everyone there was asking and willing to help in every way possible, but I just wasn’t computing all that was happening.
Who would have thought in all of my years in ministry and in this particular lane this would be how I would be traumatized and hurt. I had dealt with emotional trauma and hurt from ministry and the Lord healed it. I had experienced spiritual trauma from ministry and the Lord healed it. But this was a new thing.
This was the afternoon of the assault. You can see the smile is still there. The light is still in my eyes.
I thought ok this won’t be so bad. Just a little bruising. Little did I know.
I woke up the next morning and it took me a good 2-3 minutes to form the thought, tap my husband on the shoulder, and tell him in a barely audible whisper, ” I need … to go … go to … the ER.” I could not think nor move. I was very, VERY slow to form words or actions. Everything was overly bright, overly loud and off. My amazing kind and gentle husband helped me get dressed, walked in front of me down the stairs to ensure my safety as my balance was shot, and hovered over me at the ER as doctors and nurses looked at him suspiciously through the exam.
All the scans came back clear for no brain bleeds or permanent damage but I assure you damage was done. I had sustained and significant concussion. Now, I had been down physically before and forced to slow down to “recover”. I have been down emotionally before and forced to heal. But never have I mentally been in a state like this. I was sentenced to complete “brain rest” by the Drs. If you don’t know what that is, it it the worst kind of torture you can inflict upon a Type-A creative that is a mover and a shaker.
Brain rest … no loud sounds, no bright lights, no reading, no tv, no phones or social media. NOTHING. I could pretty much sit in a chair and look out the window or take a short walk every now and then. I tried to NOT comply but my head and body forced me into submission.
Two Days after the assault this was my state. It was starting to sink in the magnitude of the pain and change that was coming. You see the light has dimmed and the smile gone.
I was scheduled to have my lumpectomy a week after this photo but for the first time in my life I was truly scared to go under anesthesia. When I went to see my Oncologist the week of surgery I shared my concerns that I was still feeling “off”. She agreed with me that the best course of action was to delay the surgery and allow more brain rest. Two more weeks of it. Two more week of no mental, creative, or physical stimulation. Two more weeks of necessary solitude. Two more weeks of no interaction with the Lord and no prayer. I know what you’re thinking on that last statement … wait what do you mean? Why can’t you pray or interact with the Lord? BRAIN REST.
I tried my “normal” prayer and worship time with the Lord and the music was excruciating to my head. Even the soft gentle soaking kind was too much. I tried to pray … even just form thoughts of prayer to Him in my head, and I could not. And when I did … you guessed it … extreme pain. So this is where I learned a lesson I will never forget. Listen up here … it’s important.
As I laid in on my left side in my bed post surgery with a case of shingles lining down my spine and wrapping around my waist on the right threatening to ravish the uncut and cut portions of my torso, my head was still not fully recovered from the concussion. I cried. I had both breasts healing from incision due to the lumpectomy and revision. I had shingles breaking out, and I had a head not working normally.
My heart cried to the Lord, “What good am I here if I can’t even pray? or worship?” I so wanted and needed time with Him so badly.
The sweetest and kindest question came back, ” What did I do with Adam and Eve in the beginning? Did I ask them to pray or worship?”
My internal thought was, “No, you just wanted to walk with and be with them”.
“That’s all I want with you, to be with you.”
So, I laid there in the only semi-comfortable spot I could find, allowed the tears to gently roll onto my silk pillow case, and made the final thought/prayer to the Lord I would make for the next month or so, “Ok Lord, this is me, doing nothing, having nothing, and just laying my head in your lap to be with you. That’s all I have. Nothing.”
“That’s all I want. You.” was the comforting response I heard. An internal peace wrapped me up like a warm blanket on a cold day and allowed a new kind of rest come into my soul. A great rest I had never felt before.
As you can see, I was still healing not just mentally, but also physically and emotionally from all that had happened. I was a shell of who I was before, but I’m not convinced that was a bad thing.
Looking back I feel like I could have managed the physical surgery and shingles fairly well because I’m experienced in that. BUT not being able to use my brain or my spirit to engage with the Lord was a next level – stop you in your tracks – kind of thing. What do you do when you can do nothing, have nothing, and can give nothing to the ones you love the most and live to give to? You allow yourself to receive a lot … in a different way.
Once the major symptoms from the concussion subsided the PTSD kicked in. I started having panic attacks anytime I got into the car to head to an appointment. I would feel as though someone was going to hit us even though my husband is the world’s safest driver. I would hear a loud commotion in public and find myself unknowingly placing myself behind my husband for protection. My body was also physically responding to the trauma. If i heard or saw something abrupt, loud, or potentially painful on TV I would literally feel my body empathizing by shooting pain throughout it. It was intensely unusual.
It took me months to heal enough to go back to semi-socializing and that would exhaust me. And I am an extrovert. So for me to step off of the hamster wheel of life and have my rat race screech to a halt changed everything. So, where am I now?
I have yet to step into the human trafficking advocation lane again. Not because of fear but because no opportunity has opened up for me too. I never expected an assault to happen like this due to ministry although I knew the risks and dangers of what I was doing. I do not hold anger, resentment or grief towards anyone involved. Mainly because I have been forgiven for much, so I choose to forgive much. I have started life “back to normal” but my new normal does not include a rat race or hamster wheel. It includes the new level of rest that I have learned, intentional choices of what I feel is important to place my time and energy into, and a newfound appreciation for my brain, creativity, and body.
My last step in laying this event to rest was an attempt to remove a permanent mark that was under my right eye. It has lingered from the impact of the glasses or phone edge that struck me. Concealer kinda hid it but not fully. When my friend who helps me with my skincare offered to remove it with one of her modern torture devices, I trustingly accepted. And yes it hurt. And yes, it’s ugly (for now). I wanted nothing more than NOT remember how hard losing my brain function was. However, it doesn’t remove the mark it left on my life, I will wear the battle scar as a reminder of this story. A story of unnecessary anger, intentional and unintentional harm, weakness beyond measure, and a sweet, sweet comfort from above that outweighed it all.
I will always remember how the Lord never ASKED for anything from me, even though I am always wanting to give Him everything. I’ll remember how my nothing was enough and how when I had enough I probably squandered it on giving it to more than just Him. When it comes down to it … the Lord has my heart, my will, my body, and now my mind. All that I am and all that I will be, belongs to Him. So “Goodbye” rat race of doing for Him and “Hello” to being with Him.
And that my friends is my healing journey from the assault of trauma of ministry in my life to the healing journey of enough. This incident did not halt my life ministry, it simply forced me to go deeper in it with the Lord … and differently. Shifting me from where I was to where I am. Maybe it’s time to cling to Him a little deeper … differently.
I don’t know what to say. If we were sitting together and you shared that with me, I think I’d just reach over to grasp your hand, and say thank you for sharing that with me, and just sit and be present with you.
Ministry is not easy. Physical and empirical trauma can happen when we are serving. I’m processing and healing from some emotional trauma for my time in ministry. It’s something I’m not sure how or even if to share because it’s the ugly side of humans in the church that people don’t often want to hear about.