“Wow. Did you feel it?” This is the question I hear a lot after an individual finds out that I was in Kathmandu, Nepal during the 7.8 earthquake that shook the country in April 2015. Their response rattles me as reminders of people screaming, building swinging, and the ground under my feet shifting, flashes across my thoughts.
Coming home from YWAM after a year of serving, my life began to slow down and return to a normal pace. I was registered to start up at University in January, a certain boy had asked me for coffee, and I was welcomed back to my old job. It was good to be home in the city I had missed so much. But then, things took an unexpected turn. I remember standing on Granville Street my first week home waiting for the bus. The sidewalk shook as the Skytrain came through underneath the street to its station. The world slowed down and I blacked out. I blinked, and I was brought right back to the street I stood on when the brick buildings around me started to crumble. I came to in tears and on all fours with my cellphone crushed in my hand, dialing to a friend for help. I couldn’t breathe, and I couldn’t find an answer to what I had just experienced.
Confiding in those that I trust, I was able to piece together that I was displaying clear signs of post-traumatic stress. All this did was cultivate anger and confusion. It had been almost a year since the quake and while I had had a few moments of un-comfortability since then, nothing to this extreme. I came to understand that in entering a season of normalcy, my mind was finally given the time to work through and process the past year of my life, the good and the bad. Every single day from then on became a struggle. The trauma consumed me. I couldn’t look at a building without imagining its capability of withstanding the “big one’ that Vancouver is waiting for. I avoided going downtown, and no one could convince me to get on a ferry to Victoria.
It took a long time for me to bring this before the Lord. I lived in fear, and more than ever did I feel alone. Psalm 62:6 says, “He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.” In Christ I found rest. In him I was safe; he was the grounding truth I needed to hold on to when the rest of my world was falling apart around me. In everything and through everything, I can be confident that he is beside me. Though this the Lord invited me into greater depths of trust in him, to build a firm foundation on his reality, and hold steadfast to his declaration of love over me.
These past eight months have been a long journey, but with the community I have around me– my friends and church–I have seen huge amounts of victory. Without them I don’t know where I would be. I am beyond grateful for the people have walked with me through this. You have held my hand on the Seabus when the waves were rocking the boat, and held me closer still when the big trucks go by and shake the street. There aren’t enough words to thank you. Sometimes I still hold my breath when I ride in the elevator, but I have come to terms with the process I’m being taken through. I accept that I will have hard days, because through all of it my God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and even more so the community supporting me.
Lastly, if you are the one struggling, if you feel alone because no one understands the quaking inside of you, take a leap of faith and trust someone to walk with you. Christ will not turn you away, and neither will this community.