Christians and trauma

During traumatic events, we’re imprinted by the pain we’ve endured. The horrors are real and regardless of our age, race, religion, nationality or social status, we’ll have to fight through the trauma. There aren’t any healthy shortcuts.

“A traumatic event is an experience that causes physical, emotional, psychological distress, or harm. It is an event that is perceived and experienced as a threat to one’s safety or to the stability of one’s world.”/1

Our life context, maturity, emotional stability, upbringing, education, support system and a host of other factors frame our coping skills. The trauma is real and the consequences are, as well. Denial will not remove them. We must deal with them as they come.

As days pass, trauma triggers will undeniably open the wounds.

“A trigger is something that sets off a memory tape or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her/his original trauma.”/2

They will be as varied as the experiences people endured. They may be a result of smells, sounds, names, settings, feelings, colors, etc. Based on their intensity, damage can range from fleeting to profound. Each event must be dealt with in a unique way.

Christians may have greater opportunities for help (Luke 4:18; 5:31-32; Philippians 4:6-7), but the trauma and its triggers will still exist. Trauma is natural to the human experience and pretending it’s not is dangerous. Christians in denial will allow Satan leverage to attack us (1 Peter 5:8).

How can we help other Christians? We must be highly sensitive and never ridicule the trauma that people endure. Our own experiences must never be the standard.

People who are afraid of certain rooms, places, names or smells aren’t stupid. They’re real to that person and we must be empathetic enough to allow people their own experiences.

A sensitive, empathetic Christian will be careful how they treat others and compassionate enough to realize that we can’t know what will bother people.

Preaching is a minefield because we can inadvertently hurt someone with the most banal illustration. We just have to be cautious with our words.

When accidents do happen, don’t act defensive or dismissive. Their trauma is real regardless of what we think. Belittling the pain of others can send souls away from God permanently. We’re to be helping Christ, not hurting his cause (Matthew 28:18-20).

Take the time to learn about traumatic experiences while realizing that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Develop a tender heart and a soft touch. When people hurt, they need love, not ridicule (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

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