Pain! Pain! Pain! I was surrounded by pain, grief and despair, and the one question that kept coming to my mind was, when will this pain go away?
I had lost twelve members of my family in the massacre in Jonestown. On the fifteenth anniversary I reached the lowest point in my life. It could have been so easy for me to give up and end it all, but because of the incredible love and support from my family and Christian friends, I was able to go on.
Three years later, as the eighteenth anniversary approached, I decided I wanted to put all of my pain behind me. For once I wanted to have some fun on that day, so when I saw an advertisement for a Caribbean cruise, I knew I had to go. I felt it would be a source of healing for me. God made it possible for me to go. I don’t know how he did it, because I did not have a lot of money. I will always be grateful to him for making it possible for me to have this wonderful experience.
I flew to the Miami Airport on November 16th. When the pilot announced we were about to land, it dawned on me, this was the last place I saw my mother and younger siblings alive. I had let them walk off that bus and out of my life without a goodbye hug. The pain returned then, and then again when I saw a sign for Guyana. As I walked onto that ship Sunday afternoon on November 17th, I knew I needed this cruise. I was ready for some fun and excitement.
The ship was on the Norwegian Cruise Line, larger and more beautiful and exciting than I ever could have imagined. Since this was my first cruise, I did not know what to expect. I was a little nervous because I had watched the movie, Titanic, the night before, and I did not know how to swim.
I was glad my cabin had a view of the ocean. It was spectacular. I met my cabin mate, Marjorie, who informed me of a change in our schedule. We were going to the Eastern Caribbean instead of the Western, because of a hurricane or something. I have to admit I was a little disappointed, but since I had not been to either one, it did not make much of a difference. It was better to be safe than sorry.
Being at sea for three whole days was something else. All you could see was water. I told someone I can see why God created the earth and people, he got tired of looking at all that water.
It was good I had a conference to attend during that time, because otherwise I would have been bored. I did not know anyone, and I did not know all the things you could do on a ship. The conference was informative and encouraging, it made me want to keep going with my writing.
I enjoyed the walking tours. I did not take the organized ship tours, but instead stayed with my small group, which did our own sightseeing. We got to move at our own pace and see what we wanted to see. I have some beautiful memories of St. Thomas, San Juan and Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas. I am a shy person, and sometimes I am amazed at the number of people I have met and gotten to know.
The cruise, as the title of this article suggests, was healing for me. God truly blessed me. He enabled me to put my pain behind me and move on. I will never forget my family, but I will no longer be crippled with pain and sadness. Instead I will rejoice in knowing that God not only wipe away our tears in heaven, he does it here on earth. I will remember that cruise as the time and place where my healing began.
I hear of people who have been through horrible things in their lives, and they find it hard to move on from there. I believe you eventually have to, otherwise you die. I do not mean a physical death – even though sometimes that happens – but one that keeps you from moving on with your life. That is no way to live.
You have to reach out to someone to help you with your pain or take hold of something that will enable you to let it go and bring happiness in your life again.
I do not have earthly riches or a family of my own, but through Christ, I am content with my life and all he has and is giving me. I have cast all my cares on him, because he loves me, and if my life can be an encouragement to others, I pray to be used by God to do so. As I remember my pastor saying, “Sometimes we have to shed tears to water someone else’s garden.” My healing shows God is in control of my life, and he wants to be in control of yours as well. It is a good time to heal. It is a good time to let go of the sorrow and the tears. It is time to let others in. Forgive the ones who have hurt you. You are not responsible for them, but you are responsible for yourself and your own happiness.
Smile, take in all that the world has to offer. There is so much to discover. As they say, “the world is your oyster,” and if you look inside, you’ll find the pearl waiting for you.
(Hattie Newell is a regular contributor to the jonestown report. Her complete collection of articles for this site appears here.)