Trauma doesn't justify actions; how Christians respond right when we feel like doing wrong.
I couldn't have seen it coming. I thought I had buried my grief with my brother. Little did I know ten years later the trauma that I left unattended came back to haunt me. The tragedy of losing him at such a young age had had time to fester and grow. When it decided to come out my world was rocked like never before. Sever depression, physical sickness, and emotional turmoil left me broken and isolated. Eventually I reached a point of total despair.
The signs were there. A pattern was forming. Still, I was completely blindsided. Many people wouldn't have blamed me if I had excused myself from certain aspect of my life. Traumatic actions stemming from traumatic past may have been somewhat understood and dismissed with grace and sympathy. Except that's not the story God is interested in writing.
The night that I decided to make a decision, oddly enough, was the night I watched Rocky 3. The third installment of the Rocky Balboa saga that depicts a fairy tale hero rising to the top, only to lose it all amidst a lost title and fatal loss of his mentor and trainer Mick. Would I crawl in a hole and self-destruct like I wanted to or would I rise up and let the trauma be the footing I would use to see victory again?
The Bible is clear when it comes to trauma and action.
"Be angry and sin not. Do not let the sun set on your anger. Neither give place for the devil."
When it comes to trauma, three things are inevitable. Emotion, Expression, and Event. You cannot change that. These three things WILL happen. The scripture doesn't try to keep us from emotion natural to traumatic circumstances. Even Jesus endured excruciating emotion while enduring His own trauma. In a scene in, alone in the garden, He assumes the emotion natural to the circumstance of looking to His crucifixion.
Expression is the next natural step. We will all express our emotions. Jesus expressed His grief with praying in anguish, sweating droplets of blood (hematidrosis). Paul's charge to the church was essentially saying, "It's okay to be angry. That's understandable. But be careful with your expression. It could take you over and linger." Do not stew in your pain so long that it overcomes you.
Because the next step is an event. Wrongful expression will lead to a sinful event. "Neither give place to the devil." Jesus arose from his time of expressing His emotion, and went and carried out the Father's will. We all have a choice to make when past trauma rears it's ugly head. It will show up in events in our lives. Those weak in the faith or weak in character will choose sinful behavior and blame their trauma. Those anchored in Christ and proven by the fire of testing rise to get back the "Eye of The Tiger". (gentle nod to Rocky)
My life event was choosing to make things right. Rising from the anguish to carry out the Father's will. Eight years ago today I made a choice not to give place to Satan in my life. To use my post traumatic event to better my life, not destroy it. Seven years ago today I celebrated that decision.
If you are facing trauma from your past, or present, it doesn't justify making decisions to harm yourself or your family. Self harm is not optional. Leaving your spouse is not rational. Sin is not justifiable. The power of Christ is life giving. I'm not saying this because I made it possible. I'm saying it because He made it possible. Enduring the worst emotions, expressed in the worst anguish, yet living out the holiest of events.
Be angry! Be hurt! Be confused! It's okay. Don't let it go unresolved. Express it in a godly way. Don't let the following events be sinful. Don't let Satan plan your life!
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