Trauma affects mind, body, and spirit. Trauma locks itself into our bodies.
I discern things in my body. Often, I can relate pain to circumstances.
One time, I was pushed onto my back. For years, whenever I experienced something similar, I immediately felt pain in my back.
When I asked the Lord, He showed me I had locked fear into my back from that first experience. I was still carrying it. Every new trauma triggered that pain.
So I prayed to release the trauma. I don’t have trouble with my back anymore. If I do feel back pain, I know I need to check spiritually how I’m doing.
Often we manifest physically what we are carrying spiritually.
Like grief – it often settles in the lungs. A friend went through several funerals, just a few weeks apart. She started experiencing respiratory problems. Her body was compromised as she was walking through grief.
Another friend developed chronic respiratory problems after her father died suddenly. He died in the autumn, and every autumn she experienced respiratory problems. Grieving is a process, a gift God gives us to work through our pain and loss. But if we know the ways we are carrying grief in our bodies, we can ask God to lift that.
When we don’t resolve our trauma, it can build over time.
Think about a person who experienced childhood trauma. She never found healing for it. As an adult, she experienced other traumatic events, whether physical or emotional. Again, the trauma wasn’t resolved. So it just builds up.
One day, the slightest thing goes wrong – maybe she misplaces her car keys – and she has a complete meltdown. She feels overwhelmed, like she can’t handle one more thing. Her overwhelm isn’t really about misplaced car keys. It’s going back and picking up all that unhealed trauma.
We have to invite the Prince of Peace, Jesus, into those old places of trauma. He is able to lift out the trauma and replace it with peace, so we don’t keep carrying it and constantly feeling overwhelmed.
About 10 years ago, I took an inner healing class where I learned that the way we see God as adults can be shaped by the way we saw our parents or primary caregivers in childhood.
Parents Can Affect the Way We See God
For example, if a parent abused me, I might expect (in my heart) that God will abuse me somehow. Even though I say, “God is good,” I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I never quite trust Him.
This expectation can be very subtle. My heart may hold onto a hidden belief that God is against me. I keep seeing evidence of that expectation, even though I say out loud, “God is good.”
As another example, if a parent wasn’t around much in my childhood or didn’t spend time with me, I might expect the same from God. So I struggle to sense His presence. I don’t expect God to show up when I need Him most. I try to take care of myself instead.
Or if a parent didn’t seem interested in anything I had to say as a child, I might conclude God isn’t interested either. My prayer life suffers because even though I talk to God, I don’t really believe He wants to hear from me. Mom or Dad modeled that for me.
Because these expectations are often hidden in the heart, I don’t realize I’m seeing God in this skewed way. But if I start to explore these areas where I struggle in my relationship with God, the Holy Spirit will bring to mind those childhood experiences that affect how I see God.
As I learned about these kinds of situations in that inner healing class, the examples made sense to me. So I asked God how my parents might have affected the way I see Him. I was shocked at what God showed me.
Why I Feared God Would Die
My dad died suddenly when I was only 15. It was a terrible trauma for me. I had been locked into that trauma for 27 years. I couldn’t even talk about my dad or think about him. Memories of the event and memories of my life with him were shoved into a closet in my mind, with the door bolted. I avoided the subject of death. When people talked about someone who died, I grew very uncomfortable and left the room.
When I asked how that affected my relationship with God, He showed me that I also thought God would die and abandon me forever. I thought when it came my time to die and go to heaven, God would already be gone. No wonder I was terrified of death.
Inviting Jesus into that Place of Trauma and Death
My prayer minister and I invited Jesus into the place in my heart where I was stuck in trauma. I felt like Jesus understood my shock and grief. He wept with me, and He lifted the trauma off of me. Jesus showed me He was there with me when my dad died. I could literally see the memory of the paramedics taking away my dad, but Jesus was still standing there with me, holding onto me, and He never left me.
As suddenly as my dad had died, that’s how sudden the peace was that filled my heart. I could breathe again. I felt joy instead of sorrow because I knew my dad was absolutely alive – still the vibrant and fun-loving person I remembered. He wasn’t lying in the ground somewhere. He was hanging out with Jesus. And finally I knew, with my whole heart, Jesus would stay with me too. He wasn’t going anywhere!
I repented for judging God – for believing the lie that He would die and leave me – and for not really believing He was eternal. That unbelief had been hidden in my heart. I always said God was eternal, but in my heart I didn’t believe it. That’s why I struggled so much around “death.” The truth I spoke with my lips – that Jesus gives eternal life – was not what I held in my heart. You can see where that creates a constant struggle.
Thanks to Jesus, a Lot Has Changed
Since that time, so much has changed. I’m able to talk about death and able to mourn with people when they lose someone they love. My wonderful memories of my dad have returned. I can talk about him with my family and can see the ways I resemble him (my sense of humor, especially). I have found old photos and set them around my home (where before, I only set out photos of my mom).
This Christmas, as a special treat, my sister showed a DVD she had made from old home movies. For the first time, I got to see my dad in his younger years, before I was born. I loved every minute of watching him and have asked for a copy of the DVD so I can watch again. I never could have done that without the healing Jesus brought into my trauma.
Janet Eriksson is a prayer minister, writer, editor, and teacher in Dahlonega, Georgia. She loves conversation with friends, front porch swings, sweet tea, and spending time on lakes and rivers. The author of five books and editor of many more, Janet blogs and teaches online at https://adventureswithgod.blog/.
Trauma affects mind, body, and spirit. Trauma can lock itself into our bodies. As adults, we can carry unresolved trauma from earlier in our lives. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He wants us to invite Him into our hearts, where we’ve carried trauma. So He can redeem, restore, and bring peace.
I used to have flashbacks of traumatic moments. When I was a child, we lived just off the main corridor highway leading from a prison. Often, when the prisoners would escape, they would run the railroad tracks, connect to our road, and then get on the four-lane to get out of town. Prisoners would come through our yard and snatch the clothes off our line.
So at night, I would hear the sirens go off and I would cower in the corner. Can you imagine the trauma?
Years later, as an adult, I would have flashbacks of me cowering in a corner. I didn’t understand at first, but those were hints the Holy Spirit was giving me, of places that were still unhealed in my heart.
While I didn’t immediately connect those flashbacks with the prisoners coming through our yard, I knew not to discount the images I was seeing. Instead, I brought them before the Lord and said, “Lord, why did You show me that?”
When I realized where the trauma had come from, I was able to go back to the Lord and say, “Lord, I can see that image of myself. Where were You?” And I could see Him with me in that scene now, protecting me.
He brings those things to our remembrance for a reason. Not to scare us and not to make us angry about the circumstances – angry at parents who didn’t comfort us, or at people who didn’t know how to respond as our little hearts needed.
Instead, the Lord brings these moments to mind, to give us an opportunity to recognize that He never left us and never forsook us.
For some people, the trauma comes from violence. Or maybe a car accident. A death of a loved one. All those things are traumatic. Just imagine seeing those things from the eyes of a child. Children don’t know how to process traumatic events without help. Often, adults don’t realize how something traumatic has affected a child.
I remember growing up, we had family friends that lived in a funeral home, go figure. One of the kids locked me in the coffin room. I was probably five. So here I was, looking at all these coffins. I was scared to death, almost, no pun intended. But imagine. That was a trauma for me.
Think about things children go through, that they aren’t capable of processing. How might a child respond to hearing prisoners in the yard at night? Cowering in fear. Locking fear into her body. Believing a lie that she was never safe at night. Or that things would always go wrong. Closing off part of her heart. Resolving to take care of herself, or to not need help. All these responses, out of self-preservation, set patterns in motion that affect our lives.
Most of us didn’t have somebody that said, “I know you’re afraid. I know you’re scared.” Somebody that would have pulled us close and prayed the presence of the Lord over us, or prayed trauma off of us. Most adults don’t know to do that.
So those are the things the Lord wants to redeem in us. He invites us to sit in His presence, and allow Him to redeem, restore … bring us back to right order. He does this for the sake of our own identity and for the sake of us being able to live in a Sabbath rest. That’s His best for us: that we live in a place of rest.
I have epiphanies in the shower. I don’t know why they happen in the shower but I am thankful that I take lots of showers. This morning the Lord showed me the importance of living our life in Christ.
I deal often with folks who have, because of trauma, separated from themselves (in one way or another) as a means of dealing with the pain. By the Lord’s leading and their free will we can lead those folks to reconnect with whatever part of themselves they have locked away because of pain. (Is. 61).
One of my favorite scriptures is 2 Cor. 3-16. Which basically says “We become what we behold.”
(Behold means to magnify.) If I am beholding myself and/or the trauma that was inflicted on or against me, then I become locked in that trauma. BUT, if I behold the face of Christ in those circumstances, no matter what happens, I can stand. I am hidden in Christ. Prayer allows us to invite Christ to show Himself in that trauma. Once we behold Christ in our trauma we can release it. Once released, the trauma (and the enemy) loses power.
Scripture says that the earth is waiting for us to turn to righteousness in becoming the sons (and daughters) of God. I encourage you today to stop looking at your pain and start looking for Christ in your pain. Christ is the key that moves us from “gory to Glory.” (2 Cor. 3:18).