Restoring the Lost Years

A few weeks ago we were sitting together as a family, watching old home videos. In the video frame we were all playing together at Chuck E Cheese… the girls were laughing and dancing, and I was there… but not really.

I mean, I was in the video; fully present in my absence. I was disengaged in the background.
The next video clip was Ambria’s birthday party. She was blowing out two candles, and we were singing as a family. But, for the life of me, I can’t remember the event.
As we watched the old videos together, I just began to wonder ~ When was this? I don’t remember this event. I mean, I’m in the video… I’m clearly there, but I have no memory of this moment.
And as Jamie has been calculating Ashlyn’s developmental delays, she would point out a comparison to Ambria. “Remember, Ambria was eating cereal with a spoon by this age.” And I would shake my head. “No, I don’t remember.”
Last week I was flying from Asheville to Chicago, to return home to Michigan. On the plane I pulled out a scratch piece of paper and did some chronological calculations. I squeezed out a memory from late February of 2008: We were walking into the gymnasium of the Muskegon Catholic High School, where the leadership at Lakeshore Church was going to announce my forced resignation. All eyes were on the DePoy family, as we walked through the front doors… and in that delicate moment, Ambria threw up all over the place. “Good timing”, I thought.
But then, there was nothing. For nineteen damned months, nothing.
My next memory retained was September 22, 2009 – The day we stopped and took a family picture at the border of North Carolina, initiating a new chapter in our lives.
Last wednesday I was sharing this revelation to my trusted counselor. He is a certified Psychiatrist, and has many years of experience… As we sat outside on the porch drinking coffee, he immediately pointed out that this memory block was an obvious symptom of post traumatic stress.
“Think about it… it was the emotional equivalence of a bomb detonating in your brain! You had just suffered a spiritual explosion in your ministry, and everything would be blown to smithereens. Because your private sin became public, you lost your health insurance, your income, your house, and your friends. It’s no wonder why you’re a zombie in the family videos… You’re like a war veteran with flashbacks every time you remember the conflict.”
He continued to ask questions… “Did you wake up in a cold sweat? Nightmares?”
I nodded.
“And what about walking around in public… did you just want to run home and lock the door?”
Once again, “Exactly.”
So much of this epiphany has answered a ton of questions for me lately. Why do I avoid conflict? Why do I shy away from confrontation? Because I have never really had a healthy experience with Christian conflict/reconciliation before.
In my experience, conflict + confrontation = rejection.
My prayer is that the Great Physician will heal me from the inside out. As Romans 12 mentions, “the renewing of the mind”, and the Old Testament book of Joel prophecies, “God will restore the years that the locusts have eaten…”
Last night, I took my daughters for a walk. I brought a camera, and I captured the memory… but this memory will burn the midnight oil.

2 thoughts on “Restoring the Lost Years

  1. I understand . . .oh I do.

    God has done a lot of healing, and it's easier, but even after many years I can still be thrown into a heart-pounding, sweat dripping state if something that brings back the pain and rejection our family experienced at the hands of fellow believers hits too close to us. . . .

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