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More On Reorganization

The following is an apt description of two of the most typical ways the brain reorganizes on its own, without any help.  It can be found in Eugene Peterson’s translation of the Bible, The Message.  It is part of the introduction of the book of Ezekiel in the Old Testament.  It can be read with the words ‘sexual violence’ substituted for the word ‘catastrophe.’

“Catastrophe strikes and a person’s world falls apart.  People respond variously, but two of the more common responses are denial and despair.  Denial refuses to acknowledge the catastrophe.  It shuts its eye tight or looks the other way; it manages to act as if everything is going to be just fine; it takes refuge in distractions and lies and fantasies.  Despair is paralyzed by the catastrophe and accepts it as the end of the world.  It is unwilling to do anything, concluding that life for all intents and purposes if over.  Despair listlessly closes its eye to a world in which all the color has drained out, a world gone dead.”  (a great description of deep depression, my note)

“Among biblical writers, Ezekiel is our master at dealing with catastrophe.  When catastrophe struck–it was the sixth-century B.C. invasion of Israel by Babylon–denial was the primary response.  Ezekiel found himself  living among a people of God who (astonishingly similar to us!) stubbornly refused to see what was right before their eyes (the denial crowd).  There were also some who were unwilling to see anything other than what was right before their eyes (the despair crowd).

But Ezekiel saw.  He saw what the people with whom he lived wither couldn’t or wouldn’t see…God at work in a catastrophic era.  The denial people refused to see that the catastrophe was in fact catastrophic.  How could it be?  God wouldn’t let anything that bad happen to them.  Ezekiel showed them that yes, there was catastrophe, but God was at work in the catastrophe, sovereignly using the catastrophe.  He showed them so that they would be able to embrace God in the worst of times. 

The despair people, overwhelmed by the devastation, refused to see that life was worth living.  How could it be?  They had lost everything, or would soon–country, Temple, freedom, and many, many lives.  Ezekiel showed them.  He showed them that God was and would be at work in the wreckage and rubble, sovereignly using the disaster to create a new people of God.

Whether through denial or despair, the people of God nearly lost their identity as a people of God.  But they didn’t.  God’s people emerged from that catastrophic century robust and whole.  And the reason, in large part was Ezekiel.”

Some survivors will identify strongly with denial and/or despair.  The purest denial ones will not.  There are many other ways to try to survive a catastrophe with ‘comfortable’ coping strategies as well, but as is said above, these are just the two most common.  If you or someone you know is a survivor, will you let the catastrophe invite you into an Unintended Journey of education, change, healing, growth?  The catastrophe of any type of sexual violence, at any age, has the potential of changing everyone even slightly involved into more Christ-likeness.  This type of change does however take an Intentional Choice on the part of any individual, whether the survivor, a friend, a pastor, a family member.  To read a book, join a group, go to specialized counseling, are just some of the ways to find some ‘Ezekiels’ to bring us out of our individual coping methods, denial and despair just being two of them.

The most hopeless cases are the ones where sexual violence has touched their lives in some way, shape or form, and they think they do not need an Ezekiel.  Other ones, even if they are Christians, sadly have never even been taught that every child of God needs to be continually changing in order to be putting off the old man (or nature) and putting on the new man (characteristics of God).

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