I walked into my friend’s office feeling completely defeated. Only a few people in my life know how much I wrestle with trauma. For me, trauma is like an invisible terrorist, inflicting nightmares and flashbacks and prompting painful and fearful emotions to surface in the most unexpected ways.
Trauma is an ever-moving, invisible target. The slightest scent or scene can trigger an emotional response that causes you to startle, experience ongoing physical pain, question the motives of others, and doubt your own sense of security and sanity. Survivors of physical abuse, natural disasters, and psychological and emotional damage often feel danger is right around the corner. Trauma doesn’t make sense to people who haven’t suffered an overwhelming ordeal, so survivors tend to stay quiet, hoping the past will stay in the past. Try as we may, though, trauma continually disrupts our ability to enjoy life to the fullest on many, many levels.
With this weight, I walked into my friend’s office, troubled and tired. My ongoing inner war had been a topic of conversation between us for years. Cognitively, I knew how irrational my fears were, but emotionally they kept raging. I was exhausted.
As the office door closed, tears began to fall. I felt stupid for admitting I couldn’t fight it on my own. Asking for help can feel like defeat . . . when actually, it’s the bravest thing anyone can do. My friend and I talked for an hour or so. As we wrapped up, instead of feeling ashamed, I felt tremendous comfort in the accepting presence of a trusted friend.
Admitting unreasonable fear feels very elementary, which is why most of us living with trauma refuse to talk about it. Truthfully, the emotions I feel admitting vulnerability and asking for help are more about pride than I want to admit. One of the most insidious tools of the Enemy is pride—the internalized belief that we are supposed to be big enough and strong enough to handle daily life without help. I can tell you this: every time we try to fight life’s battles in isolation, the Enemy wins. You can’t fight on your own. I can’t. It’s that simple . . . and that complicated.
Jesus says our human condition is most like the nature of sheep. Sheep are impossibly difficult, easily terrified, and desperately dependent upon a shepherd’s presence at all times. John 10 tells us Jesus is the Good Shepherd; He knows us and longs for us to find rest in Him. He tells us that throughout life we will encounter “wolves,” people who find pleasure in destroying others. They purpose to steal, kill, and destroy others’ lives. But we who trust in Christ, the Good Shepherd, will find security, freedom, and joy in the midst of their attacks.
I don’t know what robs your joy or what internal fears you face each day. I do know the Enemy is out to steal, kill, and destroy you and me. The terrifying, deep wounds of trauma will stalk your soul like wolves in sheep’s clothing. You cannot fight trauma on your own. I know; I’ve tried for years.
I’m learning the only way to crush the invisible stalker named Trauma is to reach out and ask for help. You can keep trying to do it alone, but you won’t be free until you humble yourself, admit you cannot fight the battle alone, and seek support. It may not be trauma that has you bound up; the Enemy has all kinds of ways to keep us from living the life Jesus offers. Your “stalker” could be an addiction, an attitude of bitterness, a longing for revenge, painful circumstances, soul-crushing grief that has yet to be released . . . the thing coming to your mind right now, that thing you can’t wish away or bury in the dark no matter how you try, is the very thing you need to bring into the light.
Here’s what I’m learning as I open up and allow others into my heart:
- The first step toward freedom is to be thoroughly honest about where you are. Stop trying to fight the battle you’re facing on your own. You can’t.
- Honesty is the doorway to authenticity. The idea of “fake it till you make it” is futile. Stop pretending to be fine when you aren’t. Ask the Lord to provide safe, trustworthy people who will walk with you through life’s challenges.
- Strength comes when we allow others to help us. Regardless of how you feel, if you humbly admit your need you will find greater strength. We were never meant to face battles alone. There is strength in numbers.
Whatever you are facing today, I want you to know you aren’t alone. My struggle is rooted in trauma; yours may be rooted in something totally different. We both have an Enemy that prowls around hoping to isolate and devour us. That is not the life Christ has for you! He offers something so much better, but you have to reach out. Please, don’t wait another moment. Reach out for help today.
What is one ongoing battle you have tried to fight on your own? Isn’t it time you let someone know you need help? Let’s connect today and crush that stalker. If we fight together, he will not win the war against your soul.
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