How to Heal from Trauma
- Friday, October 17, 2008
Deal with your grief. You need to express the grief you feel rather than expecting it to go away or trying to fix it or get over it without work. Working through grief is a slow but necessary process. Keep in mind that everyone grieves and heals differently, so don’t compare yourself to others or compare your loss with theirs. Remember that grief isn’t logical or predictable, so expect to be surprised by how it wells up in your life sometimes. Don’t try to rush through your grief. Pray for the comfort Jesus wants to give you, remembering that He grieves with you. Don’t try to get your life back to the way it was before your trauma; accept the fact that life won’t get back to normal. However, you can create a new normal for your life as you recover. Hold onto your memories, but let go of whatever you need to let go of in order to move on – like regrets, unfulfilled expectations, anger, a routine, or the lifestyle you used to have.
Tell your story. Get the story of what you’ve gone through out, instead of denying it, repressing it, trying to walk through it alone, or hoping it will just go away if given enough time. Face the story of your trauma and share it with God and at least one person you trust. Acknowledge that you’re carrying pain from past events; become completely honest with God about your sin, brokenness, rage, sadness, and hurt; and find safe people who will listen to your story (such as a friend, small group, therapy group, or Christian counselor). But be sure to share your story on your own terms, without giving into any pressure from others. Remember that you can choose what to tell and how and when to tell it. After you tell your story, invite God to come into your story.
Renew your faith in God. Trauma may have uprooted some of your basic assumptions about life that you had taken for granted before the trauma: like that life is fair, that the world is a safe place, or that people are trustworthy. Trauma might also change the way you see God, shattering any assumptions you may have made about Him that don’t reflect reality. Remember that everyone in our fallen world must confront trauma, but God suffers for us and with us in the midst of it. Although, one day, the world will be healed once and for all, at this time in history you need to search for God at work in this fallen world. Cling to God’s promise in Romans 8:28 that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.
Embrace your identity in Christ. Trauma may scramble some of your basic assumptions about who you are. It can bring you face-to-face with your inadequacy and incompetence; assault your view of the world so you move through life with less confidence and security; and cause you to feel strange and damaged, which could lead you to cut yourself off from the relationships you need with other people. Instead of taking on the identity of a victim, however, find your true identity in Christ as someone who is deeply loved by God. Bring your shame and guilt to the cross, trusting Jesus to handle it, and resting assured that, in Him, you will never be condemned. Face your brokenness and let it make you aware of how much you need God’s mercy and help. Ask God to pour out His strength into your life through your areas of weakness. Expect God to reverse the negative power of your trauma and change it into positive power that will be a conduit for His love and healing to flow through. Remember that God will complete the good work He has started in your life. Ask Him to eventually even use you to bring healing to other traumatized people as well.
Write for healing. Use writing as a tool to help you explore and work through issues related to your trauma. Describe what your life was like before the traumatic event, what specifically is different now, what ideas you have to make your life more the way you want it to be, and what dreams you have for the future. Reconstruct the traumatic event in a factual way, as if you’re watching a movie. Include details about what you’re feeling and thinking as you watch the movie in your mind. Evaluate how the trauma has changed your life and challenged you. Then write a future report on yourself in three years, describing what you’d like to be like and how you can rely on God to make the necessary changes in your life between now and then. Remember that, no matter how much trauma has affected you, the last chapter of your life hasn’t been written yet – and with God’s help, there is much good coming.
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