Something I have learned over the years is that pain changes us. Sometimes it makes us grow; we use the difficult times in a healthy way. Sometimes it makes us bitter and unpleasant; we let the hard things control us. Both are a process, but the end result of one is positive and the other is negative.
There are many ways we can approach trauma, but no matter what, the choices we make in our approach lead down a path of change. It is easy to excuse ourselves and tell ourselves and others that the trauma was just too much. We can’t overcome it, we will always be this way, and there is nothing we can do about it. But this presupposes that we can always be the same. We can’t. That’s not how life works. From the in and out of breathing to the fusing of our bones as we grow, every aspect of us points us toward a constant state of at least slight changes. And yes, outside influences do have an impact upon us we cannot control.
For example, gravity not only holds us to the ground, it also has it’s affect on something as basic and seemingly constant as our height. There are many factors that increase or decrease gravity’s impact on our height, but truthfully, gravity always works toward pulling us back toward the ground. We cannot change that. Now, we can strengthen our core muscles which make it easier for our bodies to hold their own, but there will still be at least a slight change.
In the same way, yes, trauma does have an impact upon us and we cannot control the trauma. We can never completely stop all bad things from happening; when we focus on trying to stop them, we increase our own anxiety over them. That makes us victims of the trauma before it even takes place. It controls us, and we have allowed it to do so.
Since we cannot prevent all bad things from happening, we’re not even going to consider what we can control in that regard. We’re going to discuss instead the things we can control AFTER trauma has occurred.
After trauma, any control seems a hopeless pipe dream. Yet, we do have choices. Sometimes, we don’t want to hear it. Making a choice usually means we have to do some work. Hard work. And we have to behave in a a manner contrary to our natural tendencies. And while I use the term control, the truth is, when we make those choices, we have to give control over to God because we simply cannot consistently make those choices without help from One much more powerful than us.
That being said, the Biblical commands paint a pretty clear picture what needs to happen after a trauma to allow someone to live within a healthy mental framework. We may seek to fight against these simply because we hear them in connection with God, yet much of what psychology tells us is effective lines up closely against the Scriptural mandates. Considering others more than ourselves, replacing anxiety with prayer and thanksgiving, forgiving, just to name a few, really truly moves us from a position of controlled by trauma to having victory over trauma.
While the Bible does not mandate writing about our pain, we do see Biblical authors very clearly taking their pain to God. This most poignantly reveals itself through the Psalms. The writers of the Psalms often poured out a depth of emotion that many of us understand. They turned their pain into songs and those songs ultimately led them to worship their Creator.
Some of us just don’t enjoy poetry, and that is okay. We can still sit down and write, draw, paint, whatever creative outlet we want to use. There’s something about working through pain in our creative ventures that helps us bridge the gap between the trauma and the worship which will take our minds out of misery and place them on the One who has the power to not only heal our hearts but also turn our trauma into an opportunity for tremendous growth.
Further, as we write about our experiences, especially how we grew through them, we share with others what God has done and bring glory to Him. This displays our hope, the most wonderful news we can spread, the certainty of eternity in heaven. That’s worth it!