This article discusses topics in the nature of physical and emotional abuse and may trigger those sensitive to these conversations. If you are feeling as though you need immediate help, please do not hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or dial 911.
Over the past two weeks, we have been discussing the collective experience of trauma: what it is, why many believe it is taboo to discuss, personal experiences with trauma, and what God has said about the subject. We have recognized that society seeks to limit our conversations about trauma, often leaving us to feel alone or as if something is wrong with us. We have also found that this is not and has never been the intention of God and that examples of trauma and the open discussion of such events can be found throughout the Old and New Testament; most glaringly throughout the Psalms of King David. Today we conclude our short series as we seek to understand how we can, as believers in Christ and allies in the the pain of the fallen world, help others to openly speak of their own experiences and understand God's truth about them.
Talk it Out
As we have discussed throughout this series, the discussion of trauma has generally been seen a taboo within the wider secular AND Christian society under the guise that discussing such pain makes the victim seem weak or of little faith. We know this is wrong, however, and that standing up to discuss such experiences can, in fact, be one of the strongest and most courageous things we can do! It can also be one of the greatest ways to exercise our faith, just as David did in his lowest and most pressing times of need.
We want to encourage others to speak out their pain, to help others understand what they are feeling is valid and that it isn't uncommon at all. Everyone wants to know that someone else understands what they have been through and how they feel and so it is important to facilitate such conversations with delicacy and compassion, free of all blame or even our own two sense on how the trauma could have been misidentified or handled differently. No one needs to be told that their "victimhood" is misplaced. It's not, and that sort of discussion closes off the conversation rather than opens it up.
We want to also seek to share our own experiences, when we feel ready, and to let someone know the struggles that we face and how it impacts our life and faith. It's okay if it takes you time. It's also okay to be honest and talk about the ways in which your trauma has pulled you to or from your relationship with God or has influenced the decisions you have made since. People understand (if they don't, find someone who does) and God certainly understands and will never hold such truths against you. So, talk it out when and where you can do so.
Bring it Back to God
Along with facilitating open conversation about trauma, we want to be mindful that many (including ourselves) have gained a false understanding of God and His goodness due to the trauma they have faced. How could a good and loving God allow me to feel this pain? It's a fair question to ask and as believers, we want to be ready and willing to share the truth. God does not ever intend for us to endure pain, whether it be physical, emotional, or spiritual). As we read last week, God's creation was made with the intention to be good and Jesus came to restore that to us; but the world has other plans. Because of the inherit and individual sin of man, we cannot exist in this life without hard times and hurt. That's why we call it a fallen world. Satan holds it in His hands until his inevitable final defeat. So, as believers we have to remind ourselves and others about God's intention, goodness, and love and shine a light on the real enemy in our midst; and it is important to do so with the solid foundation of the Word.
In Part Three of this series, I shared a few passages that highlight how God feels about our trauma and how He intends to restore us from it, but those are not the only verses on the subject. Do a bit of research and arm yourself with the Truth, so that when the conversation starts, you know where God wants you to take it.
Finally, as we talk about the sensitive topic of trauma, I want to once again remind you to approach such conversations without judgement (and to find someone who will do the same for you). We want to remember that even the most faithful believer is still a patient at the hospital of Jesus Christ. We make mistakes, our faith wanes, our judgement gets blurry, we feel hate for those who hurt us... this is all normal and God is not shutting us out for it, so we should not shut others out either. We should make it our great duty to make others feel seen, heard, and understood just as Jesus sees, hears, and understands us fully. Only then will we be able to be the face of God as we help others heal and we seek to heal as well.
Love and light to you, dear reader.