One of the most debilitating obstacles in life is the trauma we carry in our bodies. It can haunt us for decades and take root for illness. All people suffer. Some work to resolve it, some carry it forward. It’s worth the hard work to understand it, limit it, heal it, and use it to bring good to our world.
Trauma has a familiar face. Those who know it, see it in others.
Trauma’s outlook is distinct. It completely colors life with the constant presence of fear, and the expectation of more harm to come … from anyone, anywhere, at any moment.
The names we give it vary: pain, suffering, abuse, anguish, PTSD, sorrow, shock, grief, a living hell, and more. But they all describe the inner, silent chaos of trauma. All people experience it.
If your trauma is from abuse (intentional inflicted harm) your story might include betrayal, oppression, atrocity, obliteration, agony, persecution, murder, and more. They all describe brutal violation which God abhors. “And the one who loves violence His soul hates.” (Psalm 11:5)
Abuse defies what is reasonable, kind, and good for all human beings made in the likeness of Jesus, the divine human. It mocks civility and degrades humanity. Plainly, it is sin against God and man.
Abuse is the face of evil in the flesh of humans. It forces (demands) submission at another’s expense. The wickedness done feeds and transfers hatred into abused hearts, hoping to repeat itself and keep the evil flowing along. It harms every person and every relationship it touches. Abuse is immoral, wicked, and destructive.
Trauma from abuse blows people to pieces. The damage done is an abomination to the psyche. It is the unfathomable, intensely personal mutiny that wars against everything inside us that’s pure and just and holy.
The destruction hides inside us, only to rear its ugly head when least expected. A glance, a place, a smell, a sound can bring it all flooding back in an instant. Our minds and emotions implode and we are haunted for weeks, or years. It re-injures us on cue (triggered).
The horror confronts our inner workings with polarizing confusion (chaos) and the fact that our world is unsafe and cruel. Nothing is in our control. The internal contradictions of mixed emotions, thoughts, defenses, shame, retaliation, hatred, and injustice is staggering.
Trauma makes parts of us die. Trusting loved ones and those in authority, dies away. Hope that the world is safe and good, dies. Love dies. Civility dies. Kindness dies. Trauma silences us, numbs us, and takes our breath away. It rolls us into self-condemnation and suffering, again and again. It slowly destroys us. Abuse can feel like murder. In many parts of the world, it is.
For kind and sensitive souls, a lie appears that only self-harm (anger turned inward) can give relief from this horror and pain. Do not become their minion, working for them to abuse you! Fight self-harm with the truth — that God, in His High and Holy place, also dwells with the oppressed and humble, restoring their spirit with courage (Isaiah 57:15). He lives every moment with you, to uphold your given dignity, so you can stand upright again.
Don’t Get Suckered Into Harming
Abuse is as old as the world. It entered humanity when the serpent lied to Eve and it continues today. We have passed down abuse (sin) for millennia. How?
Abuse produces anger, and “Anger gives the devil a foothold,” (Ephesians 4:27) which overflows into retaliation. It rolls on: abuse = anger = retaliation = abuse. Deny evil access by arguing against anger. The Bible is our best weapon, especially Psalms.
Abuse is contagious. Destruction and harm breeds more of the same. Those abusing others are likely doing so from their own hidden trauma of abuse. The evil cycle continues and creates insanity with the internal contradictions (chaos) of justice versus injustice.
All people can abuse, in the right conditions, with a quick transition from abused to abuser. Though it may be a lesser evil, our abuse could escalate over theirs. It’s a slippery slope. See verses below.
These truths expose the fact that humankind (a now-proven oxymoron) has free will. Every person decides to harm people or not. Some people even tend to harm those who disagree with them. Abuse is what apologies are for.
No one ever gets-by with abuse. God sees harm done and eventually brings justice. Some never see that justice. It still exists. Each person is responsible to pay for every harmful thing they do or say. (Hebrews 4:13) The solution is Jesus, who took the violent abuse, paying the cataclysmic penalty for sin, and rescuing mankind. He offers that payment to each of us, free of charge, because He made us and cherishes us.
The way is simple. Believe who he is for you personally, and ask to be saved. That’s it, believe and ask. We are His treasure. He will come in to your heart and life, and dine with you and you with Him forever. (Revelation 3:20)
Since harmed people, harm people, we could have compassion for our abusers. we know how harm feels. We can give them over to their own dealings with the God who sees. He will read their hearts and avenge, train, or forgive them appropriately. They may have started it, but you can stop yourself and the cycle. We can say, “I’m not gonna be that person,” who retaliates into seething sludge. We were made for better.
Keep in mind, trauma left unattended can spark emotional and physical illness beyond reach. It can ricochet into addictions and lodge in our vulnerable spots (throats, lungs, stomachs, brains). It waits in hiding for the moment when kind attention, compassion, and understanding will soothe its toxicity and return the body to rest.
No one creates life by retaliating. This fight against it can seem impossible, but these verses help.
- Never take revenge, my friends, but instead let God’s anger do it. For the scripture says, “I will take revenge, I will pay back, says the Lord. (Romans 12:19)
- Whoever digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit they have made. The trouble they cause recoils on them; their violence comes down on their own heads.(Psalm 7:15-16)
- Do not envy a man of violence And do not choose any of his ways. For the devious are an abomination to the LORD; But He is intimate with the upright. (Proverbs 3:31-32)
- Be angry but do not sin; sleep on it, search your heart, and be silent. (Psalm 4:4)
- But whoever listens to Me will dwell in safety, secure from the fear of evil. (Proverbs 1:33)
- Most of all, let love guide your life…. (Colossians 3:14)
- If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18)
- God is trustworthy to judge our abusers, and to forgive those who are humble. (Psalm 37)
What do we do with our trauma? How do we gain control over this stealth, reckless force inside us? See my next blog post, 25 Places of Healing for Trauma.
We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.