Psalm 18:2-6; 25-30 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold; I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies. The pangs of death surround me, and the floods of ungodliness made me afraid. The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice in His temple, and my cry came before Him, even to His ears. With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful; with a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless; with the pure You will show Yourself pure; and with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd. For You will save the humble people, but will bring down haughty looks. For You will light my lamp; The Lord God will enlighten my darkness. For by You I can run against a troop, By my God I can leap over a wall. As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is shield to all who trust in Him.
Most experts divide trauma into two major categories. The first is invasion trauma. Something that shouldn’t happen happens to a person that causes trauma. The second is abandonment trauma. This is when something that should happen doesn’t happen (such as not feeling loved, protected, etc.) that creates damage. The second kind can be harder to recognize because sometimes the person doesn’t know what he or she is missing. These two kinds of trauma affect people emotionally, physically, sexually, and spiritually.
Emotional invasion happens when people feel criticized, ashamed, or blamed, either verbally or nonverbally. A good example can be sighing which expresses anger or displeasure. It also happens when people talk others out of their feelings. Patricia Evans gives an example in her book Controlling People of a little boy who falls down and hurts his leg. His parents tell him he’s not really hurting. “Big girls don’t cry” and “Christians don’t feel that way” are also good examples. This type of trauma can also occur when an adult or parent reverses roles and expects a child to be the caregiver.
In my other posts, I’ve discussed physical and emotional abuse. Sexual abuse occurs when a person is penetrated or touched in sexual areas outside a mutual relationship. Sexual trauma can also happen verbally, e.g. when someone is teased or criticized about their bodies. Spiritual abuse occurs when people are led to believe they are not worthy of God’s grace and love. Often rigid, fear-based religious teaching can have this effect. It doesn’t matter what the intent happens to be – the effect can happen because this type of religion leads to shame that is difficult to handle.
Emotional abandonment occurs when love, attention, and affirmation are not given. The results – profound loneliness. Physical abandonment can occur when physical needs such as food, shelter and clothing aren’t met. People can experience physical abandonment when they’re not touched enough – with hugs or cuddles.
What to do if you’ve realized you are a trauma survivor:
1. Become educated about the nature of trauma. Confront all denial.
2. Find comforting, accepting, and nonjudgmental listeners who believe you
3. Learn to express your anger about the trauma
4. Learn the need and the process of grieving
5. Realize you didn’t cause this nor did you deserve it
6. Develop good, clear, healthy boundaries
7. Learn to see the positive strengths that can result from healing
8. Learn to eventually forgive – this is the ultimate spiritual victory
Being a Christian does not exempt us from the suffering of this world. But it’s always good to remember that:
· Suffering is not always chastisement from God. God does allow people to face the consequences of bad or wicked choices, but it doesn’t mean everyone in the world who is suffering is being chastised. Sometimes God allows suffering in order to strengthen resolve, to shake us out of our complacency, or to help us empathize with others.
· God doesn’t leave our side when we suffer (Ps. 23:4-6)
· God will reward us for the suffering we endure for His sake (Matt. 5:10)
When we trust in God, we can change our perspective on life’s traumas from “why me” to “how can I grow from this?”
(Edited to correct a typo)