“Don’t be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering” I Peter 4:12
Trauma is a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. When we think of trauma, we often think of the combat veteran returning home, the rape victim, or the person who just received a devastating medical report. But trauma comes in many shapes and sizes. It is sometimes a response to a single event, or it may be a response to a series of experiences which negatively impact our nervous systems.
What is the Natural Response to Trauma?
In general terms, most people respond to the immediate impact of traumatic events or triggers in one of three ways. We often move in and out of these three, even within the same period.
- Fight: respond with self-defense, directly confronting our perceived threat
- Flight: retreat from the threat with as little cognitive response as possible
- Freeze: inability to process or cope; unable to make decisions
God has created our bodies such that they respond to something perceived as frightening or stressful by preparing us for a fight, flee, or freeze response. Hormones, including adrenaline, are released in our bodies to prepare us for action. When the threat passes, our bodies usually return to a pre-threat state. However, many individuals get stuck in a reactive state after trauma.
Traumatic experiences affect each system of our being:
- Cognitive: our ability to process thoughts and make sound judgments
- Emotional: feelings which include fear, shame, anger, and pain
- Physical: affecting our bodies, sleep patterns, and digestion
- Social: impacting relationships within family, friends, and work
- Spiritual: our connection and relationship with God
What are the Symptoms of Trauma?
Each person responds differently, and no two sets of traumatic events are identical. That said, if you are experiencing more than two of the following symptoms, you may need to seek help.
What are the Best Ways to Deal with Trauma?
We will all face trauma from time to time, whether driven by an event or a longitudinal set of circumstances. When we are ready to engage the process of healing, God will partner with us on that journey. These are just a few of the things you need to do to in response to trauma.
- See a Christian counselor.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Practice good self-care.
- Build a solid support group.
- Journal about your feelings.
- Make no big decisions in the short term.
What is PTSD?
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is real. PTSD may be diagnosed when an individual experiences such serious and prolonged trauma symptoms that they interfere with everyday life and relationships. Any traumatic event can cause this. Anyone experiencing debilitating trauma symptoms after a month should consider seeking professional help.
What Does God have to Say about Trauma?
- Fear not. (Isaiah 41:10)
- We live in a fallen world. (Romans 5:12)
- What God allows, He will redeem. (Romans 8:28)
- You are not alone. (Isaiah 41:13)
- He will never leave you. (Deuteronomy 31:8)