the session was over. everyone was moving toward the coffee machine or the bathrooms for the short break when she spoke up.
“can i just add one thing?” of course we all stopped and turned toward the voice.
“we’ve been talking about how to counsel women who have experienced traumatic things in life, and even how to prevent feeling traumatized ourselves through hearing the horribly disturbing stories, but i feel like i should mention another way being involved in this kind of work might threaten your emotional well-being.”
the group of women—leaders of amazing advocacy organizations—were all listening intently as she continued.
“a psychologist once told me that real emotional trauma can be caused by any experience outside of your own norm. i used to beat myself up for continuing to feel distraught over my divorce while i was face-to-face with real agony every day in the lives of these trafficked women. i felt so self-centered for feeling sad about my own circumstances when my troubles looked like nothing compared to what they go through.”
i lost it. it was like God was speaking straight to me. how many times have i scolded myself for my sorrow, frustration, or anger over losing my mom, when right in front of me so many are suffering from injustices far more overwhelming than my hurts? i tried to hide my tears as she offered a last word of encouragement.
“i just want you all to take to heart the truth that your hurts are not insignificant or unjustified. what you experience is real, and God cares about your trauma just as much as the woman who has lost her entire family while fleeing her country, or the girl who has been physically and emotionally tortured her entire life.”
those words, which almost didn’t get shared, impacted me just as much as anything said during the sessions over those three days. i know many of my friends care deeply about social justice and often find themselves facing heartache in the circumstances of the orphans, the poor, and the ignored and mistreated. please remember that your personal hurts are not to be disregarded or belittled. i know i needed the reminder.