The Shadow of Trauma
We all live in the shadow of trauma. This is the residue of trauma that is related to our own or other people’s traumatic experiences. Recently, I was browsing on Instagram and saw a quote by the recording artist Rashaan Patterson that made me think about the impact of generational experiences, specifically traumatic ones, and how they affect our lives. The post said, “Stop mistaking shared trauma as compatibility.” This statement stopped me for a moment. It made me wish someone told me this advice when I was younger, especially when I was dating.
This quote made me realize the pain of traumatic experiences such as loss, grief, disappointment, abuse and how we are impacted by ours and other peoples traumas. Trauma is everywhere. The term ‘trauma’ itself is, at times, overlooked because we tend to associate it with only tragic and devastating events. While this can be true, and I definitely don’t want to take away from anyone’s experience – I feel that we many times don’t address our own ‘traumas’ because they aren’t as dramatic as we envision trauma to be.
Please note: The following is not meant to discourage you from seeking professional help. One of the most important lessons I learned as I began my healing journey came via a wonderful counselor (who was also Christian) that helped me gain perspective on why I did some of the things I did – repeatedly. I learned my responses were my coping mechanism but they also, many times, made the situation worse.
Trauma By Proximity
For example, I grew up with a father who was an alcoholic. I speak about this in my book “What Just Happened? Living the Redeemed Life When All Hell Breaks Loose” (found at www.amazon.com). My father’s alcoholism left a mark on me that I probably didn’t recognize until I was older. He was mean some days, loving on other days and disconnected the rest of the time. His disconnection made me work extra hard to ‘prove’ my loyalty or love in the various relationships I had along the path to adulthood – even when they did not necessarily deserve that kind of commitment.
It was only after my own various failed relationships and many prayers (and counseling) that I gained a deeper understanding that his drinking was related to his very tragic upbringing and this was how he coped. He experienced loss, through death and separation, at a very young age. He grew up in abject conditions from being in a ‘coal miner family’. My father had to become an adult when many kids were experiencing the joys of teenage exploration and he found himself on his own by eighteen years old. That was when he joined the military. Drinking was my fathers only escape and he continued to drink for most of the rest of his life. I only knew the ‘trauma of his trauma’ and he probably only knew the trauma of his parent’s trauma. It has been an ongoing cycle for this branch of the family tree.
What I have learned about this ‘trauma by association experience’ is – sometimes the impacts are passed on generationally, and sometimes we are unwilling victims due to proximity. We adjust so easily to each other’s trauma that when we find traumas in common, we feel we’ve found our bestie, soul mate and friend. We’ve even come up with names for how we respond to trauma, e.g. triggers, but that often sounds like a deflection because we recognize it exists, but we don’t really address it in a way to heal the pain. That was the case for me. I recognized I had triggers but it took a long time before I finally asked God for the wisdom to truly heal. It was that realization that began my journey for peace within.
God’s Healing Power
What does God say about all of this? His number one goal for us is a ‘peace that surpasses all understanding’ and to not carry our traumas around like a big piece of luggage on wheels. God does not want us to lose sight that He is the one who can ultimately lighten the impact of our traumas to the point they are just faint memories in the rear-view mirror of life. I believe that is why Paul said in 1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your cares upon the Lord because He cares for you.”
God knew we would go through stuff in life. And some of it is so hard that it leaves the indelible stain of trauma. Satans number one goal is to use these experiences to stop us and keep us from our purpose.
John 12:40 is a scripture that reminds us of the healing God offers. It says-
“The Lord has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts— so that their eyes cannot see, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and have me heal them.”
Trauma has such a powerful effect that it can ‘blind us’ and ‘harden our hearts’ such that we can’t even turn outside of ourselves to get healing. Stop right now and seek God. Cry out to Him if you need to because He is a loving Father that is always listening. God says to take His yoke, to give Him your hurts and pains, and to let Him deal with and heal the traumas of life. God can transform your traumas into a brick in the foundation that catapults you into healing, purpose, and greatness. Let go and let God take that burden. Remember, Jesus came to not only give you life but life more abundantly.
Let The Healing Begin
Let the healing begin, now. Let God know you are hurting and want to give it all to Him. You can pray to God right now to lead you and guide you. He can make the rest of your life the best it can be, in Jesus Name!
A good resource to consult is New Life Ministries (www.newlife.com) which offers various resources and a network of counselors to assist you in beginning the journey. You can also leave a prayer request with me on the Contact page and I will pray with and for you. Don’t hesitate…healing begins today.