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  • Writer's pictureTammy Toney-Butler

What do I do now? How do I turn it off?

The sights and sounds are different. The smells are different. It's not like how I have survived for the past four years. What, you mean I can put my weapon away? But it has been my companion for so long. How do I let it go? What's that? This place is not like where I just left.

Do you think they know? What I did to survive? All those who did not come back with me? The guilt and shame I carry? Why did I live and get to walk through this door? What do I do now that I am home? This place feels so foreign, so uncomfortable. I feel hopeless here. Maybe I should try to go back? I had a brotherhood there, friends, a sense of belonging. How do I find that here?

These thoughts won't stop, the constant barrage of anger spilling out of me at any given time like a dam bursting. I have no control over when it comes over me, you know, that feeling like a volcano that will erupt and spew hateful words back at those I love. How can I turn it off? Work? Carry my load as a father, as a provider?

Will I end up on the streets like all the others? The shame and guilt devouring my soul. I made it home, but a piece of me died there. I will never be the same.

What's that, the shame can go away? Do you mean there is hope? I am not sure if I believe that or dare to believe that. What if you are wrong? Nothing helps; I call out and think of ending it all, but why did I live? There must be a reason I made it back. What's that? There is, and I have a purpose. Really? Who would want me? I am a mess.

What's that? You were a mess, too, full of shame and guilt, and you were set free. Really, what do I have to do to have what you have? Nothing, you say, believe. Believe in Jesus Christ and find hope in Him. Ha, believe in something I can not even see? What's that? I already did that when I joined the military. I believed in the concept of freedom through brotherhood and community. Christianity is like that, you say. We are all members of the same body. Christ is the head; basically, you follow Him around through the Holy Spirit and find your freedom in Him.

Try it, you say? What do I have to lose? I am already broken and a mess. You say that's when Christ can do His best work. That through my weakness, I can become whole. That sounds crazy, but it gives me hope. Maybe I could pick up a Bible and read a few words.

What's that the Psalms helped you when you were in such a dark place, guilt-ridden and buried in shame? Try reading Psalm 88.

Prayers of Peace,

Tammy Toney-Butler

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