Yesterday my counselor gave me the assignment to spend some time thinking about what trauma has produced in my life.
I have to speak honestly. I’m about up to my eyeballs in thinking about trauma and all the pain that it has caused for me and my family. I’d much rather talk about something else-like my favorite TV show, (which right now Hulu’s The Path wins the prize)however no matter how much I’d like to not think about it, the effects of trauma are usually ever before me, so I might as well write about them.
Yesterday, I went online to listen to a couple of local pastor’s sermons. I try to listen every so often to see if God is going to say something profound enough through one of them that’ll motivate me to go back to church. Usually, I’m able to gain some encouraging truths from what they say, but the thought never goes away that some kicker in the message is going to come and something they say will traumatize me.
It is clear to me that one of the effects in my life from the most recent church trauma is fear. Because those in my former church took my voice away and exposed the abusive relationship I’d been involved in with the former pastor, I am ever afraid it will happen again. Trauma produces hypervigilence. Without even being aware, I’m looking for the kicker in the sermon in the slightest inflection in the pastor’s voice that even though he might say God loves me, this pastor really expects me to prove it somehow.
I want to get past this. I really do. But my traumatized brain will not let me. There are a few people that I will listen to online mostly through the Keylife podcast. Their motto is, “God’s not mad at you.” There is never a kicker, and when I listen I always feel better. Recently, I’ve been listening to the Chief Sinners Podcast and they encourage me, too. So far neither of these programs have voiced anything that has added anymore pressure to my traumatized mind. They cause my hypervigilence to be put at ease. Trauma has produced in me such a fear of people knowing who I am and rejecting me. It has also produced a fear of being exposed again and others expecting the worst from me.
The last time I went to a church I’d come to actually like, the pastor was preaching on the Beatitudes and made a statement that we needed to act in such a way that we would not bring shame to God’s name. And the fog came into my mind, saturating my every thought. You brought so much harm to the name of Jesus, I heard shame and evil whisper. I know now that that was a lie and a trigger that set off a bomb. I realize now it wasn’t true, however I still haven’t gone back to that church again, because of the fear of that happening again is too much.
I wonder sometimes if this is as good as it gets. I am afraid to hope that God will take this fear away, and I’ll be able to focus on Him rather than people. But I am not there yet. So I continue to take baby steps towards the church and only going when I feel strong enough emotionally. I don’t know when I will be again. Maybe this Sunday. Maybe not.
Steve Brown’s words bring the comfort and healing that I need to hear for my mind to have peace.
The only ones who get better are the ones who know that God will still love them even if they don’t get better.
I hope that they bring you peace of mind as well. God loves us just where we are, and I recognize I need to sit in this truth until it sinks in more and be patient with myself.
Perfect love casts out fear.
May His love cast out all of our fear and open our hearts to love Him and others more.
I hope to write more on the effects of trauma in the days to come.