Trauma and suffering affect us all. Sometimes it is a single huge event, sometimes it is “death by a thousand cuts.” Whether it is one (or more) gaping wound, or 1000 tiny wounds, we feel pain and weakness as we bleed. These wounds cause scars. Bloody wounds and hardened scars that never completely heal, no matter how we try to cover them up.
Everyone has pain and trauma and scars in this life. Everyone. Even watching someone else suffer hurts and causes second-hand trauma. The question is not “will I get hurt?” You will. The question is “what will I do with my pain; with my bloody wounds and hardened scars that refuse to completely heal?”
There are several answers to that question. I have tried them all.
You can harden yourself to the pain – building walls around your heart so no one can get in and inflict further damage. I spent most of my life behind such walls, locked in a lonely prison cell where I walled everyone else out and myself in. I lost the ability both to receive and to give love.
You can refuse to feel the pain. I locked mine up into a box inside and tried to forget its existence. But by refusing to feel pain, I also deadened my ability to feel all the good emotions like love and joy.
You can also respond to hurt and pain with anger, lashing out at everyone around you, or directing it inward against yourself. For me anger is easier to deal with than pain. I can do something with anger. I can hit things, I can work out, I can condemn myself and promise to do better. But anger leads to bitterness, and bitterness eats away at me from the inside. Blaming myself (all abuse victims blame themselves) is anger directed inward. It says I deserve this pain, and it leads to depression that can’t heal my pain or make me feel better.
You can drown your sorrows, seeking relief in the forgetfulness of addiction to alcohol or drugs or sex or any number of other things; but this forgetfulness is just another path of self-destruction. Addiction to anything is slavery, and it will devour you in the end.
Each of these things, or even all of them together, are little more than tiny band-aids stuck on gaping wounds. You can have smiley faces and cartoon characters printed on your band-aids, but reality is that you have a bleeding mortal injury with gangrene setting in.
There is another way – a real solution. Something that doesn’t just hide or numb the pain, but actually brings healing.
Oh yes, healing is painful, very painful; pain like cutting away the infection out of an already painful wound. And it is humbling. Humbling my broken self before God Almighty, the all-powerful Creator of the universe. It is submitting myself to the Holy One who loves me with an everlasting steadfast love. It is Steadfast Love that holds me during the healing, that cradles and soothes and calms. He replaces the stone fortress of my heart with a heart of flesh – a heart that feels again, a heart that can receive and give love.
During the past 15 years, God has brought incredible healing in my life. It has been a long, slow, painful process, which I know will not be over until I reach Heaven. Not only were the wounds very deep, there are new wounds inflicted all through life. But God has given me an amazing gift in this healing process – He has given me Himself.
In the process of recognizing my brokenness and giving it to Jesus to heal, I have learned to trust Him. As I have learned to trust Him, our relationship has grown exponentially. The relationship I now have with God I would not trade for anything. I would rather know God the way I know Him now than have had a perfect childhood that knew no abuse, or a perfect marriage that knew no betrayal. Even the pain of my own sins has brought an understanding of God’s grace and mercy that I would never have known otherwise.
God brings healing and has shown me His Love in amazing ways… not because of anything I have done or accomplished or because I bring anything valuable to the table, quite the opposite. I bring nothing but brokenness to Him. I have no other offering for Him. I find it remarkable that the shame and brokenness that I spent my life trying to hide are the very things that God wants me to offer to Him. He gives me visions of His Love because I am broken, not because I am whole. In the hands of the Great Physician, my broken woundedness has become a thing of great blessing and beauty; it is a picture of God’s Steadfast Love.
The path God has for me is a broken path – the path of a wounded heart. But the healing He brings is worth every wound I have suffered.
Psalm 25:10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.
Luke 5:31-32 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
Ezekiel 36:26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
Isaiah 43:1-2 But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…”
Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.
For more insight into this topic, read the book of Psalms. And all of Romans 8, then all of Romans. And the rest of the Bible. For insight into suffering, listen to and read anything by Elisabeth Elliot. For trauma recovery read and listen to Dan Allender.
©Rebecca A Givens, 08/20/17