One of the most remarkable things about human beings is how resilient we can be. The Primal Drive for Life can accomplish impressive things. Saint John took his suffering and brought forth beauty; Nelson Mandela survived twenty-seven years of imprisonment and brought forth forgiveness.
Yet one of the most surprising things about human beings is how all that resilience can evaporate in a moment. One day the resources we have to sustain the Primal Drive for Life simply run out. The mother who for decades pours and pours into her family, and then one day up and has an affair with her best friend’s husband. The minister who for decades served up banquets from the Word of God suddenly decides he doesn’t believe in Jesus anymore.
It has to do with reserves.
We tap into our deep reserves to endure years of suffering and deprivation. Then one day our heart simply says, I don’t care anymore; I’m done. We abandon the fight and go off to find relief. I fear this is what’s happening now on a global scale.
Human beings are at the same time both resilient and unpredictably fragile, like camels. A better test for how vulnerable we may actually be is to check on our reserves. For we can rally, and we have rallied. Way to go, everybody! But every time you rally, you tap into your reserves, and though you might feel like you’re doing pretty well on any given day, you’re still burning through precious resources and your reserve tank is precariously low … like the drip, drip, dripping water bags of Wilfred Thesiger’s party, way out in the middle of the desert.
This is the trauma cycle. We rally in the face of harm, and when the harm subsides, we live in denial of it and go off in search of some taste of Eden. When our efforts are thwarted, rage surfaces — which is common to trauma responses.
This is why rallying can actually be deceptive. Reserves tell the true story.