There is no escaping the fact that we will experience pain or trauma triggers in this world. I like to say that the depth that we love is also the depth that we feel pain.
Love opens our hearts and welcomes the possibility of what could be and what is.
I spent years relearning what love was, knowing that it wasn’t abuse or manipulation. I had to experience a God who wasn’t about “give and take” like the love that I knew which was I did something for you so you need to do something for me.
I was skeptical. How could God choose me and why would He?
Although God doesn’t cause the pain, living with fallen humans, we know that we aren’t going to get it right.
We will have pain, hurt, and experience trauma (creating trauma triggers).
There are three main types of trauma: Acute, Chronic, or Complex
There is also emotional trauma which is the end result of events or experiences that leave us feeling unsafe and often helpless in the situation. It can result from a single event or be part of an ongoing experience, such as chronic abuse, bullying, discrimination or humiliation.
We can also read about Big T traumas and Little T traumas.
Big T Trauma is generally related to a life-threatening event or situation. This could be a natural disaster, a violent crime, a school shooting, or a serious car accident. In addition, acute psychological traumas, such as the death of a parent, are part of the big T trauma definition.
Little t trauma refers to events that typically don’t involve violence or disaster but do create significant distress. For example, small trauma might be a breakup, the death of a pet, losing a job, getting bullied, or being rejected by a friend group. While these incidents don’t threaten physical safety.
For me, I want to be cautious to label everything we experience as trauma (and trauma triggers). When people disagree with us, when we get offended, upset at our co-workers, or in a fight with a friend, we are having life experiences where we have to work through conflict.
(When our feelings are hurt, it’s not always a trauma, and we should be careful to label them appropriately.)
We have responses from our pain, based on trauma triggers, and our bodies will respond accordingly.
However, this is what I want you to know God’s love for you is not on trial. He wants to walk through this healing with you as you become more like Him.
He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) He’s not changing His mind about you.
What starts to happen is our feelings go unchecked and out of submission, and our wounds are left bleeding, hindering our ability to receive God’s grace and mercy in our lives. Trauma triggers can form from situations we don’t bring before God.
We start to think and eventually believe, “I’m not good enough for God. I made too many mistakes. Why would He want to love me? How could He forgive me?”
The good news is that His love, grace, and mercy have nothing to do with what you did or didn’t do. You didn’t go to the cross for your sins. Jesus did. That means that what you do or don’t do now, still has no effect on His affection towards you.
You can’t change what you didn’t start.
I want to break down why acknowledging what we know (logic and truth), and our relationships (emotional) must be in balance with each other to experience the fullness of God and to heal our trauma triggers.
Our brains have two sides: left and right. The right side is where we feel a connection, relational components, identity and worth, emotional expression, nonverbal communication through the body, and imagination, to name a few.
Our left brain focuses on logic, critical thinking, reasoning, conscious thought, and speech.
Each side works together at the same time. However, one side of our brain tends to guide us more than the other—the logical side or the emotional side.
Trying to build a relationship through works is why I believe so many of us have a hard time living out the truth we read in the pages of our Bibles. And restoring the brokenness (trauma triggers), we feel versus receiving forgiveness through repentance.
The good news is that God doesn’t care about how much we know or do in His name; He wants to know if we know Him.
Matthew 7:21–23 paints a clear picture of this for us:
Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”
The context of this scripture is that He is closing out His Sermon on the Mount by sharing a final warning about true faith. Jesus is reminding us that people will use all the right words, but they will not belong to the Lord. Jesus was not talking about knowledge in this scripture. He was talking about relationships.
God created us for relationship with Him.
Let’s take a deep look at what happens when we live in our pain and sin:
Emotional pain left unchecked loops in the emotional side of the brain, disconnecting from the part of the brain that conducts reasoning and cognitive (conscious thinking) processing. The reasonable part of the brain is unable to help the emotionally loaded part of the brain get away from the pain.
When we experience pain, trauma (creating trauma triggers), and sin, adrenaline rushes through the body, and the memory is imprinted into the amygdala (which holds the emotional significance of the event, including the intensity and impulse of emotion), which is part of the limbic system (the part of the brain involved in our behavioral and emotional responses, especially when it comes to behaviors we need for survival).
For example, if you’re on a roller coaster, your sensory information is “fear, speed, stress, excitement, not life-threatening.” The amygdala can read the emotional significance of the event as it’s a fun ride that you’ll be off in three minutes.
The memories are stored through fragments of visual images, smells, sounds, tastes, or touch. (Why scripture also tells us to not live carnally – to live carnally is to live by our five senses.)
Engaging the body and the mind in the recovery process is crucial, especially when healing from trauma triggers. This is where faith and works draw parallel. It’s not about our works, but our faith is completed by our works. People see what we do. Our actions should support our faith.
Tips on repairing and strengthening your relationship with God: (Think of things that require relationships to be strong)
- Find your distractions. (What is distracting you from the truth)
- Get quiet. (Put down your phone)
- Get honest. (Stop hiding from God)
- Be humble. (Let go of blame and self-righteousness)
- Listen. (Dialogue, not monologue)
- Surrender what’s out of your control. (Know what’s in your control)
- Take your pain to God. (Tell Him, cry with Him, sit with Him)
- Intentional prayer. (Praying scripture)
Praying for you,