Why Unaddressed Trauma is an Open Wound in Need of Healing: Part 1

Podcast link: https://open.spotify.com/show/7mZHeGcvCaBkUNKb7Oc27o

This is the FIRST OF THE SERIES ON TRAUMA.

Why the Open Wound of Trauma Needs to be Healed

Hello my friends!

I want to talk to you today and over the next few months actually about a pretty heavy topic – and that is Trauma. The Lord has laid this message on my heart and shown me the great need for it in these times we’re living in. It’s a message for anyone at any age who has walked through trauma.

I think this is the elephant in the room today. As we all walk through this pandemic, we’re all grieving the loss of “normal” life. It’s traumatic for everyone.

Before I dive in, let me give you a definition of trauma for SAMHSA – which is the Substance abuse and Mental Health Services Administration:

“SAMHSA describes individual trauma as resulting from “an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.”

Trauma has no boundaries with regard to age, gender, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Trauma is a common experience for adults and children in American communities, and it is especially common in the lives of people with mental and substance use disorders. For this reason, the need to address trauma is increasingly seen as an important part of effective behavioral health care and an integral part of the healing and recovery process.”

Everyone – is going to have to recover from this epidemic – mentally, emotionally, spiritually. And what I want to do is talk about how we’re going to recover.

Like the SAMSHA definition said, trauma doesn’t discriminate age, race, anything. 

You may be one of those people who has experienced a trauma recently, or ages ago, and it’s still affecting you. 

If this is you, I am so sorry you’ve had to go through that. What you went through is valid and painful to you in a way that no one else can understand. No matter how minimal you think it is, it is a big deal to you, and it is a big deal to God. 

You may not know it yet, but in this pain, God is actually closer than you think. He wants to meet you in your brokenness. Whatever happened, he didn’t do this to punish you. He knows there is evil and sin in the world. The enemy loves when you blame God, but the truth is that God is the one who wants to be there, and heal you from it. 

So, I pray you’ll find him in this. I pray you’ll let me be there for you on this journey. 

Please know, I am not a trauma professional, therapist or psychologist. I’m just someone whose gone through trauma – an initial one, and a retrauma and been brought THROUGH it with God’s help. 

I want to help you become the victor OVER this trauma, rather than the victim OF it. 

So, let’s pretend I’m sitting right there with you or we’re taking a walk on the beach and we’re just going to have a few conversations about this.

***

I think sometimes when we’re busy in life, things are going as planned, we have an easier time avoiding pain because we can kinda run from it or schedule ourselves out of feeling it. The thing with Covid-19 though is by things changing – we’re being forced to face stuff we’ve avoided.

I actually believe that is an open door for God to help us. But it always seems easier to ignore the pain, run from it, or worse – numb it. But I can tell you none of those things make it go away. They only make it fester.

I don’t want it to fester for you. I want it to be revealed in your heart so God can heal it. 

You don’t have to ignore it with him. You don’t have to run from it with him. You don’t even have to numb it. 

He says in Matthew 11:30, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

How often do we think, “He doesn’t care about me or what happened.” But he DOES!

Corrie Ten Boom said it best, “There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.”

Psalm 68 says in verse 5 he is “a father to the fatherless, a defender of the widows is God in his holy dwelling. Verse 8, “God sets the lonely in families.”

Psalm 46 says in verses 1-3, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountain quake with their surging.”

It doesn’t matter if it feels like our world is falling apart. He is our ever present hope in trouble. Does He always bring us through when we want? No. But if we trust Him, he can bring us to the other side. But we have to want healing. We have to want His help.

*** 

I know first hand, it is not easy to walk through and recover from trauma. I also know it’s not always easy to find resources and I pray that those are revealed to you in this process. 

You know, it breaks my heart when I see people who’ve been through trauma that are taken advantage of because they may seem “weak” to an unsafe person. Yet to me? They are strong, because of what they’ve survived. It’s just that they need help to overcome the effects.

Recently, I’ve been watching a few Netflix documentaries.

One is the Jeffrey Epstein one called, “Filthy Rich.” It chronicles his life and the worldwide sex trafficking ring he ran. Hearing these stories said to me he was the essence of evil. Talk about trauma for these young women who were trafficked. 

Many of them told stories of their upbringing and  being raised in traumatic environments. Then they met him. This man was taking advantage of them in absolutely horrible ways. To see how it affected them broke my heart. But it was also a beautiful thing when they came together in solidarity to face him in court. 

The other series was called, “Cheer.” It documents the cheerleading team at Navarro College in Texas, how they train and prepare for their one-time competition. Their coach is Monica Adalma who is very committed to her team and treats them like her own kids. 

She gives them guidance and discipline that many of them never had before. Some of these kids were traumatized as children and they were blessed to get connected to this woman who helped them come out of their darkness. It was a really cool thing to watch them feel so loved and on purpose.

Both of these documentaries reminded me – trauma is absolutely everywhere and desperately needs to be acknowledged and addressed.

And here’s what I want to tell you about your trauma — 

It’s not about the trauma itself per-say, it’s about how it felt to you. 

It’s not about how yours might not be “as bad” as someone else’s.

It’s about how YOU have personally responded to what has happened to you.

It’s about how YOU’VE responded to life OUT of this trauma. 

It’s about how it’s impacted your life.

It has affected your mental health, your physical health, your emotional health – everything. 

And it CANNOT be overcome with willpower alone.

Trauma is like an open wound that doesn’t heal until it’s treated with care. If we don’t treat it, it gets infected and infects our whole life. 

So, the question for you is – are you willing to treat that open wound…even if you can’t see it?

I know what it’s like to minimize the pain, or rationalize it and not until I realized it was real to me was a willing to look at it.

Let me tell you about something that helped me see it.

It’s called, the ACE Study. There is a quiz you can take to help you find out if you’ve had, what are called, “Adverse Childhood Experiences.” The rougher your childhood, the higher the score, the more likely it is that you’ll be impacted physically, mentally etcetera. 

Now – here is the thing. You can look at this in two ways like, “Oh okay well I’m screwed,” OR you can think, “Wait a minute. This gives me something to work with here. This gives me a reason to address it because it’s real!”

So there are three types of ACES:

  1. Abuse – be it physical, emotional, or sexual. (Now, how many people are too ashamed or afraid to acknowledge these? How many people think emotional abuse isn’t a big deal?)
  1. Neglect – physical or emotional. (So if a parent isn’t physically or emotionally present, that’s going to be an issue)
  1. Dysfunctional home – mental illness, mother treated violently, divorce, incarcerations or substance abuse. (So if there is anyone in your home who has suffered from a mental illness – treated or not, your mother isn’t treated well, your parents get divorced, someone is in jail or someone is addicted, you are more at risk).

You can have one or a combination of a few. I’ve certainly had a combination of a few, and never thought what I went through was a big deal because you know “Everyone goes through it.” But seeing this showed me – wow, my pain is valid.

Now – here are the ways it can affect our health:

Addictions, obesity, diabetes, depression, heart disease, cancer, stroke, broken bones….things you would never think would be connected – but they are!

Let me give you another resource and I’ll put these on my website. It’s a book and it’s called, “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma” by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D. I’ll be talking about that a bit too. It’s heavy on the science but it gives you a good idea of how this can affect you.

***

Let’s talk about God’s part in this. 

If you’ve been through trauma you probably have or even ARE asking “Why God? Why me? Why would this happen to me?”

I have been there.

And I mentioned some of this earlier, but you have to know – what I have come to know deeply through Scripture:

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” That’s Psalm 34:18

When I thought HANDS DOWN God doesn’t care about me or doesn’t see me, and I was afraid, He revealed Himself to me in the Word, 

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” That’s from Matthew 10:29-31,

EVEN the VERY HAIRS OF YOUR HEAD ARE NUMBERED.

And let me tell you – even today, almost 10 years after I’ve been baptized in Christ – I still need to hear this. That’s why I LISTEN and watch for the Lord in my everyday life and He reveals himself to me again and again.

Let me give you a recent example.

I few weeks ago we celebrated Ellie’s first birthday. The morning of the party we were running around and as it goes with most big events, things weren’t going right. So, my husband calls me out to the garage and asks me to call the cat in because there is a sparrow stuck in the garage. I walked out and saw our cat staring at this sparrow stuck way up on a shelf and I thought, “Huh.”

Then I remembered how many times the sparrow is mentioned in the Bible, “His eye is on the sparrow and is watching me, came to mind.” And I heard this, “Don’t worry. Today will be crazy but you’ll be okay.” 

Then later, Scripture confirmed it. In Matthew 6, verses 26-27 it says,

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

Total confirmation that God was speaking through something simple as a sparrow.

So if you think He doesn’t care or isn’t paying attention…think again.

I just want to end with a Scripture from Isaiah. 

Now, what’s funny about Isaiah and how much I’m going to talk about it in this series is that when the prophet Isaiah was writing this, he was prophesying to a nation that had TURNED A DEAF EAR TO THE LORD. They offered sacrifices at God’s temple and committed injustices throughout the nation. They’d turned their back on God and Isaiah was declaring how they could turn BACK to God. How many of us do this when we think that God has abandoned us?

So go to Isaiah 30 in your Bible. Here he’s talking to the rebellious people and I believe it’s also to those of us that just don’t want to face it because we don’t want to go through the hurt – 

Verse 15,

“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”

Verse 18-21

“But the Lord LONGS to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are those who wait for Him.

People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. 

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear the voice behind you saying, “THIS IS THE WAY, WALK IN IT.”

Here is what many people don’t know – the Lord WANTS – he LONGS to be gracious to you. AS SOON AS HE HEARS you, HE WILL ANSWER YOU. 

1st John 5:15 tells us, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”

HE HEARS YOU. 

He WANTS to show you the WAY so you can WALK IN IT.

You do not have to go this alone my friend.

Let me just leave you with one from Isaiah 41 verse 13,

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

Take this Word to heart my friends. Write it down. It’s truth.

I will see you next week when we talk a little bit more about OUR WHY – why this work is so important.

If you want to hear more, join me next week on the Podcast or listen to this week’s so I can pray for you at the end.

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