A global trauma.
This has been the label that people have used to describe the collective ordeal that our world has faced in the recent years. Now that things have shifted back to “normal,” a lot of experts are concerned at how quick we are in moving forward.
John Eldridge, in his book Resilience, shares the same sentiment:
“Right now we’re in a sort of denial about the actual cost of these hard years. We just want to get past it all, so we’re currently trying to comfort ourselves with some sense of recovery and relief. But folks, we haven’t yet paid the psychological bill for all we’ve been through.”
The truth of the matter is, it isn’t just the global trauma that souls are carrying. Long before this, each of us have had to already deal with our own stories of trauma—whether it’s something we’ve had to endure as a child growing up or an experience we’ve had to face as an adult.
Some of us, like how quickly we’re trying to get past the true condition of our souls post-pandemic, also didn’t have the time to heal from our own traumatic experiences. So things have just added up.
They say that our souls are incredibly resilient. It can endure hardships longer than we could ever imagine. And yet, while it is resilient, it is also unexpectedly fragile. If we do not carefully pay attention to what our souls have gone through, resilient as it may be, it could give up anytime without a warning.
This is why it is important that we do not shun the pain of our souls. Because one way or another, no matter how deep we try to bury our traumatic experiences, it will show up sideways. And this is what makes it even more detrimental.
Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, the founder and director of the Trauma Stewardship Institute said this about trauma: “As hard as the initial trauma is, it’s the aftermath that destroys people.”
We can pursue healing together.
Psychology says that traumatic experiences are so painful that they tend to become buried deep in our subconscious. However, even if the experience itself has been forgotten, our bodies remember. It keeps score of what we’ve been through.
I am in no way an expert in psychology and I am not here to give you a lecture on trauma and how our brains work.
But I am writing today from the perspective of someone who has also gone through the crippling effects of trauma, like some of you do. And hopefully as I open my heart about my own experience, I can encourage and walk with you through the truth that no matter how painful or ugly our experiences are, there is healing and redemption available for us.
The first step we can take towards healing is acknowledging we have been pained. It seems to be that it is innate in us to forget the bad things that happened to us. Maybe it is our body’s defense towards pain. We either bury it immediately or size the experience down and deny it so it doesn’t have to affect us deeply.
The voices around us sometimes aren’t helpful either. People are quick to advise us to just move forward or to forgive immediately. And while those are valuable and important parts to our journey, know that it is okay to first acknowledge and feel what you are feeling.
It is in our awareness of what has happened to us and what it made us feel that we begin our healing.
In my own journey of healing from trauma, when my own self does not even have the capacity to understand the depths of what I’ve gone through and I didn’t know where to begin my healing, I take comfort in the truth that we have a God who searches and knows our hearts. While our souls try to bury our pains so deep so that we forget, I know I could submit my pained heart to God because He knows exactly where to begin to heal me. He doesn’t just search me so He could bring out the pain up to the surface and leave me like that. He searches me because His desire is to bring healing and restoration to whatever it is that has been broken inside of me.
I know sometimes it isn’t easy to open up about your trauma. But you can entrust your heart, your painful and traumatic experiences, to God. You can bear it all out to Him. I can’t promise that it won’t be painful when your traumatic experiences are brought back to surface, but what I can assure you is that when you do it with God, you will find Him in the process as one who is gentle, loving, and kind. He is a safe space to bear out your soul.
Start with that.
ASKING FOR HELP
Dealing with our trauma is a journey. And in my own journey towards healing, I cannot imagine having to do it on my own. Thankfully, we do not have to.
Some of our trauma may be inflicted by other people, most of the time by some relationships that are close to us, but it is also in the context of relationships that we find healing.
We can ask for help. And asking for help isn’t something we should be ashamed of. When we are surrounded with friends, with people who love us, with relationships that are a safe space for us, it fosters an environment for us where we can heal.
Recently, as I dealt with a pile of unprocessed trauma, I have decided to seek professional help (which, by the way, is something I would highly recommend). After a few counseling sessions with her, she noticed a remarkable change and progress in the way I was healing. While having professional help was a big contributor to that, I cannot forget how she highlighted one factor that she thought was also key to my healing, “It seems to be that you have a great support system that helped you heal faster.”
While she said that, my mind began to have flashbacks of the faces of people who have been part of the support system she was mentioning. People who were patient with me, people who were generous with their time and allowed me to process my thoughts with them, people who gave me the ministry of their presence, people who created a safe space to bear my heart out without judgment, people who made sure I don’t forget to have fun even in the midst of my pain.
There is power in these relationships. And my prayer for you is that you will be able to find these people in your life. As you seek healing from the trauma you’ve experienced, may God be first and foremost your place of safety to process your pain. And as you surround yourself with godly relationships, may they become a tangible expression of God’s gentleness, kindness, and love to you as you journey with them through the healing of your soul.