Few people have the ability to put a smile on your face by just being their own sincere self. Even fewer people have the ability to see the deeper picture, the soul behind the mask, without an inch of judgment.
God was graceful enough to allow my path to cross with that of Barbara Louw, one of these special people.
Many moons ago I covered the story of Inter Trauma Nexus opening an office in Eersterust, a coloured area in Pretoria, terrorized by gangsters.
Soon after that I met her again at the Pretoria Magistrate's Court where Barbara ran an office, counselling the hurting and emotionally torn people who go through the motions of the justice system.
I realized that this woman has a special purpose, that she was a willing instrument in the Lord's hands. Together she and He managed to touch many lives, put a kiss, ointment and a plaster over bleeding wounds.
Barbara became not only an expert I would contact for comment on stories. She became an expert who I would refer people to. As her phone is never off, I eventually ended up "abusing" her for any bit of advice.
"Barbs, please help to pray for this? Barbs, I met this person who has problems with that."
Never did she become impatient.
These characteristics are evident in her daily work.
Barbara does not give up. She and her team will walk the (sometimes) bumpy road to recovery with you. There is nothing she has not heard before. Fighting on her knees with her clients, Barbara cannot be shocked or disgusted by what has happened to you or by what you have done.
Neither will an issue be too small.
This wise woman once told me: "Life is like a backpack with stones in it. You carry it while you are climbing the mountain of life. Along the way you gather stones of various sizes. Happy stones, sad stones. Stones that tell the story of your life. To handle anything from minor issues to devastating trauma, you have to sometimes take a break and go through your backpack. Sort out the stones. Which ones can remain behind, which ones need attention. If you don't, and keep on climbing the mountain, your bag becomes heavier until it tears. And then all the stones fall out. That is when everything you have emotionally collected over the years become too much. Because you haven't sorted it out from time to time".
What I did not tell her, was that I was at a point where the Earth was weighing a bit too heavy on my shoulders. But hey, reporters are tough!. Yet, Barbara was sharp enough, and willing enough to be guided by the Holy Spirit, to say the right thing at that time.
The moral is: we cannot live with trauma. There are ways and means to get through it, to heal. Sometimes we just need a little help.
It is the coward who pretends that everything is all right and does not seek help.
It is the brave who sticks out a hand, who have the courage and wisdom to acknowledge something is wrong, and to ask for help.
I truly believe this book will touch many who need to know they are not fighting alone.