Severed trees provided rustic seating around the campfire on the mountain that chilly fall night. The group of Christian Singles was engaged in singing praise and worship songs, accompanied by a single guitar. They were on a weekend retreat and interspersed between songs and prayer, individuals would share their testimony. Several participants told personal stories that evoked tears within the congregation of twenty-two retreat attendees. The environment seemed appropriate to disclose my own inner pain, as other contributors were receiving loving feedback when they expressed their wounded feelings. However, for me, it went very wrong and I suffered emotional trauma for many years following that night.
The crisp autumn chill accentuated the intoxicating scents of surrounding pines and eucalyptus trees, mixed with the cozy smell of the blazing campfire. There seemed to be a sense of camaraderie and closeness within the group and I longed to be included, but deep inside, I was broken. At a lull in the singing, my heart began to beat rapidly, which I believed was a sign for me to speak out. In a quivering voice, I verbalized:
“I am feeling like I don’t want to go on living anymore”
Silence. Not a sound from anyone. I wanted to shrink and run away. A moment later, someone spoke up, but it was to share an unrelated story and the attention focused on her. Rejected. After a few minutes, I slipped off my log and walked alone in the dark; crying. Nobody cared.
I felt humiliated as I wandered around the moonlit pathway to our cabin. Stumbling upon a dirty tree stump, I sat down and lifted tear-bursting eyes to the blue-black sky and cried out to God:
“Why am I so unwanted and unloved?” Sobbing, I whispered: “Just let me die here and now.”
I wished I could say that someone came to me and comforted me, but I cannot, because no one appeared.
But God did.
Feeling spent after my emotional bleeding, I experienced radiating warmth within my body. Basking in this feeling of Heavenly Love, I returned to the still empty cabin and went to sleep.
The following morning was Sunday and we were preparing to return home. I was still feeling embarrassed for sharing what I did and remained quiet. Nothing was ever mentioned about what I had shared. That episode became a great wall in my emotional well-being and from that day forward, I chose to never again bare my soul to anyone.
After many years of depression as a result of those buried feelings, God led me to various persons who were compassionate and demonstrated real love to me. Slowly, over a long period of time, I was able to open up with others who told me that I was loved and a person of worth. It took a long time in healing my broken heart, but God has used me in many ways as a direct result of that event.
Looking back at that painful night around the campfire, I realized that although the setting was appropriate for sharing, what I verbalized was too difficult for my peers to respond to, so they did not. That did not excuse them for ignoring my pain, but it has taught me to be aware of others who are experiencing similar rejections.
God loves us all, even those of us who are perceived by others to be weird or strange or crazy. In other words: unlovable. My advice now is that when you see someone who seems socially inept, or just different, please take time to talk with them. They are hurting human beings, just like you and me. Touch them; look in their eyes and tell them you care, and mean it. It may be the one conversation that makes a difference between death and life.
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