Trauma

Devotional Blog:

Topic: Breaking patterns of trauma, 9/15/11, Isaiah 57: 12-14

This entry in the book was ‘interesting’ and amounted to saying ‘get over yourself’ at the end or you are going to seriously $#@! up your kids. The simplicity in which she treats this topic bothered me a little. Now, I agree I just ‘summed’ up the topic above in one sentence but her approach and link to the verse was unclear to me until the end and I still was like…does this make sense in light of her ‘verse of the day’….so I dissected it.

NIV Version: Isaiah 57: By the way Isaiah is between Song of Solomon (or Song of Songs and Jeremiah)…Ya, I didn’t know where Song of Solomon was either…I basically approach my verse finding to Old Testament or New Testament and start flipping through the books til I catch the name Isaiah and go from there…

Verse: (12) I will expose your righteouness and works and they will not benefit you (13) When you cry out for help, let your idols save you! The wind will carry them all off, a mere breath will blow them away. But the man who makes his refuge will inherit the land and posses my holy mountain. (14) Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.

I’m perplexed…the devotional entry is about childhood trauma and not letting that affect your children when you grow up and the first verse is how God will ignore your cries for help. That’s a horrifying verse to ‘speak’ to someone that’s under gone trauma, believer or not and be told God will ignore them. Now I understand that the ‘goal’ of such a statement is to encourage people to find their strength and refuge in God, let him take the pain away so that it is not ‘over’ you in life and you can move on freed from it. As the personal recipient of some pretty horrifying trauma myself…despite my understanding of the verse, I am agog. Imagine someone that’s hit their bottomless pit of hopelessness and you spout that verse to them…despite your good intentions at getting them to find their ‘refuge’ in their relationship with God…all they would hear is God ignores their cries.

Why am I hammering on this? Perhaps its just a poor choice of verse? Because its in a published devotional, because I am a Christian with an understanding of what’s ‘supposed’ to be meant. Because not everyone who reads this is going to have someone to explain it to them and may have a limited Christian background.

I went to the internet looking for other translations of verse 12 and 13: the NLT version clarifies it to ‘so-called’ good deeds implying such mal-intent ‘good deeds’ are what God shuns. After scratching my head I move on down the verses and start to gather its total meaning–in fact I went back and read the whole chapter. The beginning of the chapter up through verse 13 is about those who worship idols, adulterers, sorcerers, prostitutes…in essence, not awesome people. So apparently verse 12 and 13 apply to that group. Essentially if you shun God, hate on him whatnot, openly defy him…he won’t listen to you. Ok so that makes more sense…why would God extend love, healing and peace to someone who spits in his face?  A kid threw a rock at me once in elementary school, said he did it because he and his friends thought I was ugly. I can tell you the last thing I was thinking was “peace, love and joy” to that kid; rather the opposite. Verse 14 to the end of the chapter discusses ‘humanity’ and how God responds to that and I think is is SO much more applicable to the trauma devotional than the previous verses.

Some of us have trauma unleashed on us through no provocation of our own, we’ve done nothing and yet it happens and it’s unfair and it sucks. There are some of us that make really poor decisions/mistakes that perhaps end up leading to such trauma. I am in the latter group and its that much harder not to completely blame yourself for you own naive stupidity. Did you live through the experience, yes (Thank God); does it haunt you–well yes. For years after it happened people at church would tell me to just ‘let it go’ but I didn’t know how, I would think to myself–Ok, deep breath annndddd ‘go!’ Of course the nightmares continued even years afterward, and then I started grad school and with the stress of my Ph.D. at one point it took a whole bottle of wine and leaving all the lights on in the house and having the comedy sitcom ‘Friends’ playing in the background as ‘white noise’ for me to get to sleep. Trauma can mess you up and for many years I blamed myself, felt I deserved the ‘aftermath’ because it was my own stupidity I felt that put me there.

Verse: Isaiah 57: (18) I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will guide him and restore comfort to him, (19) creating praise on the lips of the mourners in Israel. Peace, peace, to those far and near says the Lord. “And I will heal them.”

This is what those who’ve undergone trauma need to hear first…God can heal them. Then she goes on to a very applicable verse out of Ephesians, 4:27: “Do not give the devil a foothold”. In essence by dwelling and attempting to deal with my trauma myself I was opening myself up to even greater depression, anxiety and hurt. We are our own harshest judges sometimes…I know I judge my own actions and myself in general very ‘roughly’. My mom and Tyghe have often told me to not be so damn hard on who I am. I still struggle with ‘loving’ who I am. Its interesting in that, I really don’t give a rats @$$ what others think of me, but I highly prize my own opinion of myself (man that makes me sound conceited huh? Ha ha!) and when I let myself down, it’s pretty heinous.

By not dealing with what happened to me and seeking to clean the slate with others in essence I was allowing myself to be in that state longer…and rack up a very large wine bill courting alcoholism. She finishes by saying that if you’ve experienced trauma you need to seek professional help and deal with the source of that trauma in your life…otherwise you’ll give the ‘devils’ in your life footholds and power over you and it’ll trickle into your relationships with others and your children.

I don’t know that I’ve fully ‘healed’ from my own personal issues…not only issues from what happened but the personal ’emotional self-flaggelation‘ I gave myself for years afterward. But I seek the comfort I have in my faith and it helps and I talk to others who’ll listen both professional and personal. I’ve seen the damage that can happen from giving in to ones ‘personal demons’. ‘Personal demons’, and you can take that literally or figuratively, have literally killed loved ones (they took their own lives). Have I ever contemplated taking my own life? I’d be lying to say I never have. Does that make me ‘mental’? No, I makes me a ‘hurt’ individual who needed and sometimes still needs help.

I am determined to never be a casualty of my personal demons, I’d rather like to eject them from my life altogether.