Are You a Victim of Trauma?
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” -Jesus
See Matthew 9:12
Trauma can impact our lives negatively, in so many ways, especially if we don’t take steps to heal from it. First, let’s define trauma: a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.
Here are ten examples:
- Molestation – What was done to you was not okay. That relative, neighbor, or person was wrong–VERY WRONG. This was not your fault.
- Abandonment – That parent, spouse, friend, or loved one left because of their own issues, not because of you. This was not your fault.
- War – The excruciating things you’ve seen and experienced were part of your everyday life as you simply did your job. Just because you’re back home physically doesn’t mean you’re back mentally. You were in survival mode for so long and now you don’t know how to not be in survival mode. This is not your fault.
- Religion – God’s character is nothing like the people who treated you like trash. That manipulation didn’t come from Him, even if they acted like it did. He loves you. He’s always gentle, patient, and kind toward you, even while correcting you. This was not your fault.
- Physical injury – It’s a tragedy what happened to you and there’s nothing that can be done to change it. But this isn’t the end of your life. God can still bring you great joy and purpose, even through your adversity–if not more.
- The silent treatment – This can be considered a type of abandonment only it’s repeated again and again, sometimes over the course of a lifetime. They shut you out, and it hurts. As a result, you overlook your own well-being and needs, scrambling to please them, but it doesn’t work. Even if it does, it’s normally not good enough or doesn’t last long; that is, until they give you the cold shoulder yet again. Thankfully, God never does such a traumatic thing to you. This is that person’s bag of crap, not yours. Let them hold on to it while you enjoy your life. Not your fault.
- Adultery – Physical and emotional adultery is rampant today due to social media. There’s never been an easier way to be cheated on. You can be sleeping in one room and your spouse is cheating in the other. This isn’t your fault no matter what they say or excuses they give, especially when you catch them. If you haven’t caught them yet, you will, if they’re doing this to you.
- Public dishonor – Reputations are ruined with the stroke of some keys, every day. Used to be, when you broke up with someone only a handful of people knew about it. Now the status of Single, Separated, Divorced, or whatever is front page news on everyone’s feed. But it doesn’t stop there. Lazy, dishonest employees who were fired, former friends who did you wrong, and even salty relatives can put stuff online as if it’s true. Public dishonor is so prevalent for teens, their suicide rate is at an all-time high. This trauma isn’t your fault.
- Death of a loved one – The loss of a child is unimaginable; the passing of someone in the prime of their life or even while struggling with life, this is a devastating trauma. Of course, not your fault.
- Divorce – The severing of a family impacts so many different people on so many different levels, not just the two divorcing. The destructive domino effect for the children and generations to come, along with the gut-wrenching emotions caused by this trauma? Astronomical.
Friend, I understand there are many more types of trauma. I’m so sorry you’ve experienced such anguish. It wasn’t fair and your feelings are valid and important. You are important. Your life is important. If I’ve missed your trauma, fill in the blank:
“___________________ is my trauma. This was not my fault.”
Unfortunately, serious issues can develop from trauma:
Knee-jerk bitter reactions (even toward those who truly care for us), extreme distrust, debilitating fear, social anxiety, private anxiety, constant worry, sleeplessness, night terrors, hair-trigger anger, alcoholism, drug addiction, food addiction, sex addiction, porn addiction, gambling addiction, electronics addiction, isolation, workaholism, rage, working out excessively, indulging in hobbies excessively, extreme laziness, depression, sweeping the issues of others under the rug, codependency, people-pleasing, pastoral worship, pastoral hate, church worship, church hate, denying sex for your spouse, using sex as a bartering tool, projecting, gas lighting, legalism, licentiousness, placating, lack of boundaries, lack of time management, and more.
How to heal from trauma:
- Feel your feelings – “It’s so messed up you feel that way!” is a lie coming from someone who doesn’t understand just how important your feelings are. You must feel your feelings and not ignore them. God gave you the ability to feel for a reason. Feelings aren’t right or wrong, they’re indicators of what’s happening to you, around you, and in your mind. Feel what you need to feel and don’t feel bad about it. If you do feel bad about it, let yourself feel bad, then move forward knowing that feeling is fine too. Let yourself feeeeeeeeel! Rule of thumb: Don’t let your feelings lead you, let God lead you, but never think that God is telling you not to feel. He wants to guide you as you feel. Big difference.
- Hold the person responsible who caused you trauma – This is hard. It’s hard because we can take this to the extreme either way; blaming them for everything–for every problem in our life–or never holding them responsible for anything. Don’t do either. Instead, make a decision to say, “Your choices caused me severe pain, this is why: _________________. You owed me ________________. It’s not okay you didn’t give this to me. You hurt me greatly and have impacted my life negatively.” Even if they aren’t there to hear you, have passed away, or if they never hear this, say it so you can hear it. If it’s the government, war enemy, or even God, you can still do the same thing. For God, you won’t hurt His feelings. He understands your pain even though He didn’t cause it. He’s secure, so express yourself! Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares!
- Choose to forgive – Jesus understood the foundation of true peace and fulfillment: forgive those who have hurt you. The legalist will say, “If you don’t forgive others God won’t forgive you!” but that’s a lie which causes more trauma. Jesus said this to the Mosaic Law-lovers to get them to turn toward faith in Him alone. Those self-righteous jerks thought they could forgive their way to heaven and Jesus was pointing out their failures. On this side of the Cross we forgive to release ourselves from another’s grasp on our soul, never to be forgiven. The person who’s harmed you doesn’t even have to know you’ve forgiven them, but they can, if you want to tell them. You don’t have to feel like forgiving or wait until you’re ready, nor is forgiveness a process. Trust is a process, yes, but forgiveness is an instant choice of our will. Simply say, “At this time, on this date, I choose to release you from what you owe me,” and then watch what God does with your attitude.
- Establish boundaries – Healthy boundaries are always founded on love, both for yourself and the other person. Boundaries aren’t walls, they are see-through fences with gates meant to protect you and others. The gates let people in, show people out, and also allow us to take out our own trash. Boundaries determine where we begin and others end; our responsibilities and theirs. Boundaries allow self-care and create clear minds. Boundaries teach us to not be so hard on ourselves and to notice when others are. Boundaries say, “No.” “Not now.” “Sure.” “That won’t work for me.” “I’ve changed my mind.” “This needs to change because I care.” “I love you, but that’s not okay.” Boundaries are calm. Boundaries are not reactive. Boundaries are our responsibility, not anyone else’s. Boundaries allow us to think about the worst possible outcome and remain peaceful, even in the midst of the pain. Anger is the baby steps of boundaries, serenity is the maturation. Boundaries are not ultimatums but loving and respectful cornerstones of relational life. I recommend the book series Boundaries, by Henry Cloud and John Townsend, to everyone who’s experienced trauma.
- Grow in God’s grace – The Bible says the grace of God teaches us how to live our lives! (See Titus 2:11-12). Grace is not an add-on to stuff; grace-based this, grace-based that. Grace is our very life! Grace is Jesus and Jesus is grace! So grow in grace and grow in Him! He’s the true Healer of every trauma we’ve ever had or ever will!
A prayer for you: Father, thank you so much for helping me heal from my past traumas and continuing to do so. Thank you for always being there for me when others weren’t, and even when I wasn’t kind to myself. Thank you for guiding me toward the truth of your great love, and teaching me there’s nothing wrong with me. I’m forever grateful for your Spirit within me. Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. Countless people are suffering, Dad. The trauma they’ve experienced, or still are, isn’t fair. Encourage them to feel their feelings and to fall into you for advice, guidance, wisdom, and comfort. You use all things together for good. You make everything new, including our mindsets and thought life. Thank you. In Christ’s name, amen.
This devotional is from my upcoming book, The Christian Identity, Volume 3. Check out my other bestselling books here!