Your trauma is unique. It might be from a one-time event like the loss of a loved one, a car wreck, or a natural disaster. It might be chronic, from prolonged or repeated events like abuse, addiction, racism, or hate.
Trauma is a response to a deeply disturbing or distressing event. It’s complex and takes time to process, but I’m learning that healing is possible for each of us. It likely won’t be easy or instant, but the work you’re putting in to process your trauma is making a difference. If you need prayer, click here and you’ll be connected to someone who’d love to pray with you.
You Can Find Hope
My life turned upside down a few years ago. My family and I went through several painful transitions, disappointments, and unexpected setbacks.
Individually, these things might have been manageable and easy to process. But together, it caused trauma. Initially, I didn’t process these things well. I shut down, overwhelmed by the life I was living, and feeling a numbness that I struggle to put into words. Can you relate?
During this period of my life, I remember so many well-meaning believers quoting Paul’s words in Romans 8:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 NIV
And while I know they had the best intentions, their words hurt me. I knew the words of Romans 8 were true, but they weren’t what I needed to hear in the moment. It felt like I was on this ride of uncertainty that I couldn’t stop or get off of. Within a period of months, I found myself in a dark place with intrusive thoughts that were incredibly scary.
Now, years later, I’m learning how to process that season of my life. And I want to share some of what I’m learning. While all trauma is unique, I hope and pray that these ways to process trauma can help you begin to find relief, hope, and healing.
3 Ways I’m Learning to Process Trauma
1. I’m seeking connection with people I trust.
When life is hard or I’m processing disappointing or even traumatic events, I tend to push people away. I usually isolate myself and believe the lie that I can protect myself. But what I’m learning is that there’s truth in this verse from Paul:
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 NIV
I’m learning that the people around me care deeply about the circumstances in my life, and how these experiences are impacting my health and relationship with Jesus. My husband, my LifeGroup, and my counselor have been incredible sources of hope and healing as I share what I’m processing. They’re also the people who will sit with me when my emotions and feelings seem too big to handle. Sometimes the connection looks different, but the people are constant.
Who are your trusted people? And how much do they actually know about you? Consider talking about your trauma with trusted friends, or a mental health professional.
2. I’m prayerfully trusting God.
I know that God is my source of healing, comfort, and peace. But just because I know these truths about Him doesn’t mean that it always feels that way. Sometimes it feels like God is distant and doesn’t care about the pain I’m experiencing. In those moments, I find myself crying out to Him and trusting that He is who He says He is.
God is compassionate. He cares deeply for me.
God is gracious. He’s not scared of my burdens and pain.
God is overflowing with love.
God is faithful.
Because I know who God is, I can take my trauma and burdens to Him.
3. I’m looking for purpose in the pain.
In the midst of my trauma and depression, I found myself asking God, “Why?” Why me? Why are You allowing this, God? Why is this happening? Why can’t I find joy and feel happiness? Why is numb the only thing I’m feeling?
Wondering why is a normal response to pain and traumatic events. You can find “why” questions all throughout the Psalms. When you bring your whys into prayer with God, into trusted relationships, and to professionals, these questions can help you begin to process your trauma.
As you’re connecting with others and pressing in to God, it’s okay to look for the purpose in your pain, and it’s also okay if you’re not quite ready for that. Even while I was asking why, I still wasn’t ready to hear about purpose right away.
Remember Paul’s words in Romans 8:28? This Scripture might not have felt helpful to me in the moments when well-meaning people first shared it with me, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t true. We can know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, even before we understand how.
Today, I can see that my traumatic experiences have grown my empathy for others. While our trauma might look different, many of the underlying feelings of numbness, anger, abandonment, and hurt can be similar. And now I can empathize with people who are in the middle of these feelings.
When the time was right, I was able to start looking for the good in my experience. I wasn’t ready to seek goodness from my trauma at the beginning. But over time, as I leaned into community and pressed in to God, I was able to start wondering, how might God use this for His goodness?
Here are a few things that have been helpful for me as I process trauma.
- I realized that, in addition to my pastors and friends, I needed to talk to a professional therapist.
- Episode 52: Freedom to Feel of the You’ve Heard It Said podcast taught me how I can start naming my feelings to process the hurt I’m experiencing.
- The Wisdom for Mental Health Bible Plan on YouVersion taught me about different ways to find peace in chaos.
- Life.Church Worship’s song As You Are gave me hope that Jesus loves me wherever I am in my journey, and that my disappointments and experiences aren’t too big for Him.