Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Writing about Life-changing Events

When Writing Helps to Process Trauma by Debbie Roome
We’ve all experienced life-changing events to one degree or another. They’re the type of thing that halt you in your tracks, make you stop and think, cause a re-evaluation of priorities.

I experienced such an event in the early hours of Saturday 4th September. A major earthquake with a magnitude of 7.1 struck Christchurch at 4:30 am. From being sound asleep, I was suddenly thrust into a world that was rocking, heaving and banging. My heart was racing and although I was trying desperately to get to my children, the motion prevented me from moving. I don’t remember ever feeling so terrified and helpless.

A couple of hours later, I started feeling the need to write. I’ve always handled difficulties by writing about them and find it clears my head and may even help others in the process. So I headed into town with my camera and younger daughter to photograph the devastation before the police blocked the central city off.

Although I’ve only lived in Christchurch for 4 ½ years, I love it as though I’ve been here forever. It was heartbreaking to see the destruction: heritage buildings smashed, walls missing, awnings and roofs collapsed. The profile of the city has been irrevocably changed.

Since Saturday, I’ve written several news articles about the earthquake as well as my own personal story. These have been read by thousands of people and that makes it worthwhile for me. I was also asked to present a slideshow of my photos at church last Sunday and share about what I’d seen.

The people of Christchurch are emotional and traumatized and our sense of security has been shattered. Each morning brings new challenges and we desperately need the support and prayers of Christians around the world. Aftershocks continue to shake the city and those who don’t know God are finding it hard to cope.

As I’ve written, I’ve realized anew how much unnecessary stuff I clutter my life with, how much time I waste on things of little value. The earthquake has forced a change of priorities. Finding enough bottled water for my family is suddenly top of my list and things like TV hardly feature. I know life will settle down and routines will become normal once again - but my prayer is that God uses this earthquake to deposit something rich and meaningful in my life that will last for eternity.

Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe

Psalm 61:1-3 (NIV)

Debbie Roome works as a freelance writer from her home in New Zealand. Visit her at Debbie Roome or read some of her work at Suite 101, Associated Content and Faithwriters.

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