Trauma & Healing
Battlefield Triage – Lesson 5 of the “Overcome” Recovery Curriculum
Whether from our environment or self-induced, traumatic events often consume us. Bitterness, anger and depression are often rooted in these events. When we have not properly grieved or healed, these wounds only grow deeper and more infected. Without proper care, the wounds are able consume us and we set up permanent residence there. As you’ll learn in Lesson 5 of our recovery curriculum, forgiveness is integral for healing.
Without proper attention to wounds, we resort to battlefield triage…just to get by; shove it back down, get over it. Back in the old days, before antibiotics and medical advancements, the cure was hack a limb off, cauterize the wound shut or use leaches. Many amputations back then could have been prevented, and still many were due to unsterilized equipment and barbaric surgical method… leading to unnecessary infections, which led to amputation.
Growing up in the south, I have heard my fair share of crazy old-timer’s cures, some like blowing cigar smoke in your ear to cure aches. Many people still prescribe to this sort of thinking, which essentially is the backbone for the psychological term the Placebo Effect, which basically means, if you believe enough in it, it will work. Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe there is some actual proof some of my grandmother’s cures work, such as vinegar in the sink to keep gnats away. However, an entire industry sprang up in the 1800s that relied upon this same sort of thinking, reference Snake Oil in your down time.
I know for many of us, the ideas of the 1800s seem archaic and idiotic, that we are so much more enlightened now. We think this is crazy, but the same thing is being done today… Take medications for example; not really addressing the problem but instead creating just enough side effects to mask or distract. We have our own snake oil now-adays, we just don’t call it that.
Before I go any further, please understand what I say is meant to educate, encourage and engage you. This is a difficult topic to unpack in such few words and I want to be as intentional as possible. Since dealing with trauma feels like chasing phantoms, it makes logical sense to look firstly at what trauma produces and what produces trauma at the same time. Much of this reaction is tied together and cannot be easily separated into neat little categories.
Briefly, trauma is a direct result of what others have done to us and what our reaction is to the offense. Trauma relies on the ripple effect to reach maturity. For many of us, we are victims of generational trauma. We repeat things we have seen, good or bad. We are still ironing out things our grandparents folded up wrinkled and put in a drawer… some of the things we deal with are generational baggage and sins. With family, who needs enemies?
Simply put, words and actions can produce trauma. Something someone said in the heat of an argument, an action by a loved one. These are all events that we perceive and then interpret. Unconsciously, we assign value to the event and it becomes a subject of thought and eventually becomes a memory, which soon dictates how we perceive and live life. When this occurs, we become desensitized to those words and actions and the maturity cycle begins. This cycle will ultimately dictate whether or not we become producers of future traumatic events or be held bound and captive by the past events.
There is one caveat to this topic. If you are in the valley of a traumatic event, find someone to talk to that you can confide in and trust. Find a fellow believer and let them minister to you. When an individual is in the midst of addiction that has suffered traumatic events, the proclivity is to hunt for something that will medicate. Something that will kill the pain. Without consciously recognizing it, we feel justified in selling ourselves snake oil, no matter how little it does or how bitter the taste.
Cut a major artery and they tell you to remain calm, why? This is another promise from Gods word. With this verse we need to stop, slow down and try to form a picture in your mind. Picture being wounded… this is trauma and our response or reaction to it subconsciously motivates and encourages our next step.
He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.Psalm 147:3
Now, picture that wound is infected… This is the long-term effects of unforgiveness in our lives… relationships, work, everything. If we react to trauma wrongly, it will soon infect every area of our life. However, if it is handled properly, it can heal and become stronger. I recently read a quote that said a surgeon could be judged by his or her skill by the amount of scar tissue that formed during healing. An excellent surgeon could essentially make a wound disappear. To some extent I believe that is possible, given the realm of man, but we have access to a much greater Surgeon, that will not only heal the wound, but make it a source of strength not only for us, but others.
Connect the Dots
If the event is front and center in your mind and you are aware of it, all it requires is the choice. However, if it has been buried deep, we have to begin by looking at the past and our current actions and seeing what dots connect. For me, this was best done with a notebook and solitude. What we want to see is if any of the dots we have connected are partly responsible for our behaviors, or are they so deeply rooted in us that they subconsciously led and direct us throughout the day? As you are made aware of these events you must then take them to God to get His perspective on them. To realize where we reacted wrongly and take the next step of learning how to respond correctly.
“Do you want to be healed?”John 5:5-9
Realize and understand we live in a fallen world and unpleasant events are going to occur. We are sinful, all of us. We humans are a messy species. Sin always leads to pain. We hurt people we don’t know, they hurt us and most of the time we are hurting people we do know. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. The wounds we are talking about are the ones we can’t see, the broken hearted. The question we have to ask is, do we want to be healed?
“Overcome” Recovery Curriculum
Application – A Choice
A simple, but possibly the hardest choice you will ever make will take us from trauma to healing: the choice to forgive. We are told to forgive. It is not just a suggestion, and it takes trust in God to do this. We are told to forgive, because it is for our good. Forgiveness, in this regard, is for deliverance from the pain. Forgiveness is choosing to no longer let the wound direct your life. It doesn’t matter if you think they deserve forgiveness or not, whether they have asked you for it or whether they have repented for it. Forgiveness is not for the other persons’ benefit. It is for yours and it works.
Understand, I am not trying to be a snake oil salesman. I speak from experience. Forgiving those who seriously injured me in the past has been a catalyst for further spiritual growth, freedom and joy. Spend some time this week searching your heart for unforgiveness. If any is found, I ask you to at least entertain the thought of giving up the debt they owe you. The verses below illustrate this point. And if you need additional inspiration and motivation to undertake this noble task, pay special attention to the last one…
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.Ephesians 4:32
…bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.Col 3:13
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”Luke 23:34a
The “Overcome” Recovery Curriculum is part of the discipleship program at First Contact Ministries in Hendersonville, NC.
Did you miss the other lessons in this series? Click see the entire Overcome Recovery Curriculum.
We always look forward to meeting new people at our Tuesday night support group meetings at 6:30 pm, located at Mud Creek Church in Hendersonville, NC. Our classes are designed to teach biblical principles for addiction recovery through discipleship. Our goal is to show the love of Jesus by supporting those who need it most.
For more information or to purchase “The Resistance” by Josh Staton to use as a Christian leadership book, or curriculum for an addiction recovery class, please visit: The Resistance: Becoming A Servant Leader Through the Beatitudes Christian Leadership Book