The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

January 30, 2014

Walking through the fire of a personal crisis

By Ruth Ann Replogle, Columnist
Enid News and Eagle

— “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” – Scottish theologian Ian Maclaren

I had seen this quote before and even downloaded it to my iPhone, but I didn’t pay much mind to it. Following a personal crisis three weeks ago, it struck me to the core.

It was as if God was showing me an epiphany of sorts. It suddenly made sense. My eyes were opened as I endured my own battle.

I was going to work, going to church, and not a single soul would ever know what was tearing me up inside. Every person I encountered couldn’t see what was bothering me and continued to treat me as they would normally treat me, sometimes unwittingly hurtful or cruel.

And it hit me.

The world doesn’t stop spinning just because I was suffering.

Therein lies the lesson: Be kind. Always.

You never know what is happening behind the scenes, at home or internally with another human being.

Your co-worker, your fellow church member or your customer service representative may be going through an excruciating illness, bearing the loss of a loved one, facing a devastating circumstance or combating terrible things out of their control that affects how they feel, act or live.

Unfortunately — or maybe not unfortunate since I believe everything happens for a reason — I’m speaking from experience. It never truly occurred to me to consider the person next to me or in front of me might be struggling.

Don’t get me wrong. I think the Golden Rule is a great adage to live by. I just hadn’t seen it from this perspective before, from the other side of the mirror, per se. Hence the unusual leap of understanding.

The other realization I had during this time was God is in control.

Strange for a pastor’s daughter to be admitting, right?

Let me restate it. I learned in a very hard way I am definitely not in control.

Bad things happen to good people. But I have no doubts that everything happens for a reason. God is pretty clear in His word that He orchestrates everything for my good and He has a plan for me. (See Romans 8:28 and Jeremiah 29:11 for a couple of examples.)

Now mind you, my beliefs stated above don’t make it any easier. My situation was extremely painful and I bounced through all the normal stages of shock, grief and anger to name a few.

I recently completed my initial training as a victim advocate with the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) at Vance Air Force Base. One of the lessons I learned was victims may cycle through all the above for weeks or months and are permanently changed for the rest of their lives. They adopt a “new normal” based on their traumatic experience.

My intent is not to compare my personal crisis to that of a victim’s, but do you see the parallel? I’ve come out on the other side with a different view, a new normal.

I appreciate even more so what a visiting missionary shared with us several months ago: “When the heat is the hottest, danger the greatest, that is when God is working the most.”

Bring it on. I’m up for the challenge and I’m going to be a stronger person because of it.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” — Joshua 1:9

Contact Ruth Ann Replogle at JustHoldOnRR or