Have you ever experienced a sudden rush of nausea and dizziness when unexpectedly coming across something that reminds you of something terrible you once experienced but haven't thought of for months or even years?
One of our church leaders used to be on the police force and was called out to assist in the clean up of a large plane that crashed and left hundreds of people either seriously injured or dead. He thought he had dealt with the disaster rather well until the first time he had to put himself on a similar make of airplane as a passenger. As he entered the plane memories of the disaster he had assisted with came rushing back and momentarily knocked him off his emotional balance.
I have never seen something so awful as the aftermath of a major airplane crash, but I did have a similar "after the fact" reaction this morning.
As I was looking at some photos of a most happy event a friend of ours was participating in, suddenly I found myself looking into the face of someone I have not seen for many years now, someone who once made my life a living hell for a short period of time. I was completely startled, had forgotten there was even a connection between this person and our friend. Instantly my stomach began to churn, I thought the nausea was going to overtake me, my head began to pound and I thought I was going to pass out on the floor.
The reaction lasted for only a few seconds before I regained control of myself, but what a surprise to me to have such a reaction. I have not thought of this person in so long and had forgiven the person ages and ages ago for the problems that happened between us. Until today, remembering the incident has caused me no apparent further upset.
I suppose when we are emotionally traumatized at any level, regardless of whether or not the situation has been satisfactorily dealt with, such scars can give the odd pain that reminds us of their existence. Then we also remember the wound that caused the scarring and in a split second some of that pain and anguish resurfaces.
In a way it is good it happened to me today. It gave me pause to check on my own emotions and to question the depth of my forgiveness toward that person. Now I am satisfied that any lingering unforgiveness or hurt has been dealt with as much as possible, I think I will be able to handle any more such unexpected encounters that may arise...with God's help.